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5)Tips & Ideas for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner is both a pleasure and an annual learning opportunity. Planning and preparation are key when you want to host a (relatively) stress-free, streamlined event.

Thanksgiving Dinner Planning

You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish throughout the months and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. From creating guest lists and place cards, freezing things ahead of time, and even re-organizing your kitchen to improve workflow and efficiency.

The Ultimate Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Thanksgiving hosts typically plan at least a week ahead. The reality is that the early planning for a larger-scale Thanksgiving meal, complete with an attractively set table, place settings, etc., should commence no later than the first week of November (sooner is better).

Thanksgiving Dinner Planner

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Put these on your turkey day “to-do” List ASAP

  • Your guest list
  • Centerpieces and sophisticated table decor
  • Place settings
  • Menus (including pre-meal snacks and/or appetizers, beverages, etc.)
  • Tablecloths (Are they big enough? Do they require dry cleaning? Pressing?)
  • Servingware and utensils (do you have enough to serve what your menu planning revealed?)
  • Picking up any items you borrow, writing down who you borrowed what from so you can return them afterwards

Having a week’s worth of pre-planning items ready weeks in advance gives you plenty of time to round up any of the items that may pop into your head during the remaining days leading up to the big meal.

Additionally, planning your décor early ensures that you get the decorations you want since many stores switch from Halloween to Christmas décor just after Halloween Night. If you wait too long, you may find that your store is out of stock of the silk fall leaves, rustic baskets, and unique gourds your decorator was hoping for.

Choose & Strategize Your Recipes

Of course, there are traditional Thanksgiving recipes and then there are the ones that you get to introduce or borrow from your favorite holiday dinners (we got our favorite Apple Pie With a Kick recipe from a friend). Once you’ve lined them all up, it’s time to strategize, divide, and conquer.







Take inventory and shop early

The large majority of ingredients can be purchased weeks ahead of time, leaving only the fresh veggie items for the “week of.” Write all the ingredients required from your recipes, figure out the total amounts you’ll need of each and then track your pantry supplies.

Shopping early for non-perishable items can save you money and time. For example, you could create your shopping list from that and buy all the non-perishables at least one week ahead of time. This will leave you with a short, quick trip to the store for perishable items the day or two before.

Looking for a mix of traditional and original T-Day recipes? Check out these delicious Thanksgiving Recipes from Allrecipes.

What can you make ahead?

For example, things like homemade cranberry sauce or stuffed sweet potatoes can be made weeks ahead and frozen—to be thawed and/or reheated that afternoon. Then there are things like mashed potatoes and certain veggie sides that can be made a day or two ahead and kept safely in the fridge until they’re ready to be reheated..


In some cases, you may only find yourself cooking the turkey and stuffing early—and reheating everything else on Thanksgiving. Yahoo! You’ve gained extra time to mingle, mix drinks and socialize!

Do You Have the Tools for the Trade?

Hosting a memorable party requires the right number of serving platters, serving spoons, carving tools, etc. You also need to have the right kitchen tools and appliances so that all your party food is ready when it’s served. Then there are all the tools that don’t seem like “must-haves” until time-saving tricks are required.


Run down the list of these 21 Must-Have Tools for Thanksgiving, and then start shopping for the lowest-dollar versions in your area.

Review your recipes and imagine them as already made; where will they live, what is required to get them onto plates, what will people be eating them with. Having a couple extra platters, bowls, and serving utensils on-hand “just in case” will help you prepare for a variety of dishes you serve that day.

Prepare Your Kitchen Space

A functional and efficient workflow makes all the differA functional and efficient workflow is important for an event like this; however, you also need to organize the space in a way that promotes socialization, guest comfort and working efficiency.ence; but for an event like this, you also need to organize the space in a way that promotes socialization and guest comfort, while allowing you to work!

Thanksgiving Kitchen Space

Organize ingredients

From a completely functional perspective, you’ll need to act like a play director/set designer as you set up your kitchen to support the mission of the day—meal prep and hosting.

A functional and efficient workflow is important when hosting an event such as this one, but it is also important to organize the space in a way that promotes socialization and guest comfort while allowing you to work.

Check out these 4 Simple Cabinet Changes for Thanksgiving and see if any of them will streamline your meal prep this year.

cabinet storage

Guide guests into “their places”

  1. Take time to “stage” your entertainment areas in a way that promotes guests’ enjoyment, sociability, comfort and food/beverage access, but that also allows you to keep on track of the tasks-at-hand.
    For example:
    1.  A kitchen island with appetizers is the hub for an epic holiday gathering.
    2.  Creating small groupings of 2-3 chairs with a snack table will immediately give guests a place to intimately reconnect with one another—never guessing you’re trying to avoid distractions and interruptions.
    3.  Set out pretty pitchers of water and wine with glasses so guests help themselves.
    4.  Add extra hangers to the coat closet, leave the door open. Make some extra room for your guest’s coats.
    5.  Place some board games or a puzzle in a corner or a specified place for little ones—even if they’re on the floor in another room.
Kitchen Island Part Hosting

Still don’t have a kitchen island or peninsula? Check out Popular Mechanic’s ideas for making a faux-island staging area to keep guests at bay while you’re busy cooking.

Download our FREE ultimate kitchen lookbook and browse through some of our most popular kitchen remodels.

Make Thanksgiving Extra Special With an Upgraded Kitchen

If you’re planning a future kitchen remodel, keep in mind these host-specific design guidelines for a Thanksgiving-worthy countertop or custom cabinets.

1. Build the pantry you’ve always wanted

Well-designed pantries provide ample storage space for all the essentials, with extra room for event-specific items and ease of access. Walk-in pantries are best, but pull-out pantries can be a great alternative.


2. Maximize your space’s potential

Open-floor plans are ideal for hosting parties at home. Even if you don’t like a completely open floor plan, open concept kitchen features (pony walls, wall-cut outs, etc.) enhance the flow of a kitchen during party time and traditional meal gatherings.

Open Concept Floor Plan Kitchen Design


3. Boost your storage efficiency

With the right kitchen storage solutions, you can save time and energy during holidays and any other day. Pull-out shelves and other cabinet organizers, lazy Susan in corner cabinets, pots-and-pan drawers, utensil and cookware organizers—all of these optimize storage efficiency to make cooking easier.


4. Add built-in seating

Built-in breakfast nooks and banquette-style seating provide versatile spaces for serving food and preloading servingware, as well as kiddie-seating. Visit 5 Creative and Comfy Kitchen Seating Ideas to see which ones make the most sense for your kitchen footprint.


 5.  Include base cabinet organizers

Organized cabinets and kitchen drawers are directly related to kitchen efficiency. The right spices, utensils, and other kitchen items can be organized in designated racks for quick access without any time wasted hunting or shuffling disorganized cabinet contents around.

Pots and Pans Organizers

6.  Put your drawers in order

Drawer inserts also exist, so you don’t have to waste time searching for your 1/2 teaspoon, the microplane rasp grater, the peeler and so on. Organize your drawers with these inserts and you will be amazed at how much time you gain. Have a look at Drawn to Kitchen Drawer Trends and you may see drawer organization inserts that never even crossed your mind.


Where can I book a dependable kitchen remodel in Lehigh County?

Hosting large dinners and social events is a learning process. You’ll improve exponentially with each one you host. Kitchen Magic at your corner can help you make your Thanksgiving dinner a memorable event. Don’t allow an outdated kitchen to deter you from enjoying holidays. Contact us today at (866)525-7999 to schedule your free design consultation today!

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