12 Steps to Make Your Thanksgiving Gathering Easy and Perfect
Thanksgiving meal with Hamlet Ham

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, share some good food, and simply enjoy each other’s company. We’ve put together a guide to help you plan for the day so you can spend more time with those you love.   

  1. Make your guest list and send out invites. Choose how to invite your guest, go simple with text message or email invites, or go all out with personalized mailed invitations.  Remember to include all the important information. Who, What, When, Where, Why.
  2. Plan your menu, whether you’re cooking for five or 12 people, you have to decide on the menu.  Turkey and Ham are traditionally the main entrees.  It’s always an excellent idea to provide more than one option for appetizers, entrees, and side dishes to give your guests variety. Remember to keep your guest dietary restrictions, likes and dislikes in mind. 
  3. Choose your cocktails (or mocktails). Whether you decide to serve alcoholic beverages or not, you’ll want to make sure your guests have something to drink right away.  If your guest list is more than a handful of people, make a pre-batched punch, set up a drink station or designate someone to be the bartender so you can focus on the food. 
  4. Decorations, pull out your traditional Thanksgiving décor or find new items for your table. Traditional Thanksgiving table decorations can include fresh flowers, leaf garland, pumpkins, etc.  Just make sure whatever is in the center of your dinner table isn’t so tall that your guests can’t comfortably see each other and chat around it. 
  5. 1 week before Thanksgiving make a shopping list and purchase all non-perishable items.  Start cleaning out your refrigerator so you will have room for all the food. 
  6. Prep early, there are many things you can do before the big day to lower your stress level.    The week of Thanksgiving you’ll want to make sure that your home is presentable for guests.  Setup the table decorations and place settings, food serving dishing and utensils.     
  7. Menu planning is the key to making Thanksgiving enjoyable for the host. To reduce the holiday stress, find side dishes that can be made in advance. Then on Thanksgiving Day, you can cook or reheat as needed. Many vegetables in your side dishes can also be prepared the day before such as chopping and sautéing vegetables and making dressing or stuffing. Once the prep work is done, simply warm up your sides on Thanksgiving Day. Pie and rolls can be made a day ahead of time. However, consider a fruit pie such as cherry or apple as it can be frozen months ahead of time.
  8. Keep the kitchen clean as you go. Place dirty dishes in the dishwasher as you use them and be sure to run and empty it before guests arrive. This will allow for a quicker cleanup when you can fill an empty dishwasher.   
  9. 1 day before Thanksgiving defrost any frozen foods.
  10. Make a written timeline of all the cooking tasks you will have on Thanksgiving Day. It’s always satisfying to check something you’ve completed off the list.
  11. A couple of hours before guests arrive adjust the thermostat based on the number of guests you are having.
  12. Don’t forget the ICE!