How To Host A Formal Thanksgiving Dinner

It’s that time of year again when the family gathers together to share food and memories for Thanksgiving.  Except this year is different: it’s YOUR turn to host the festivities! Don’t worry we’ve got all of the tips and tricks to guarantee your success. Whether it’s your first time hosting or you’re a seasoned veteran, these pointers will help your special day run smoothly.

Allow Yourself Time

No matter what the situation, time management is key when hosting an event. Make sure to start early in your preparations. For a formal Thanksgiving dinner, consider sending physical invitations after creating a guest list. Many websites offer the ability to create custom designs for your invitations, ranging from tasteful and simplistic to colorful and boisterous. If time is already an issue, consider online invitations instead. Remember to specify whether or not there is a dress code.

Make Sure Your Home Is Ready

Before you start to consider your decorating plans make sure that your home is in order. You may consider hiring a cleaning service before the guests arrive so that you can focus on food and decorations. Also, be sure any major repairs are finished far before the big day.


Don’t go overboard. Feel free to bring out the fancy dinner plates and silverware, but let the food be your main table decoration. Using a hollowed gourd or squash instead of a serving dishprovides a tasteful seasonal accent without cluttering up table space. Consider making customized place cards so your guests know where to sit.


Food is, of course, the most important part of Thanksgiving. Prepping any cold dishes ahead of time will help you stay on track. Make sure to include the food of family tradition, but try experimenting with an unexpected new recipe for one of the side dishes. Depending on how early you are expecting your guests to arrive, appetizers and snacks could also be a necessity.

If you have the time, consider preparing your turkey a different way. One preparation technique that has recently increased in popularity is brining.

Although this method leaves the skin of the turkey less crispy, it often brings forth a juicier meat than when prepared in traditional fashions. Also, consider cooking vegetarian options for your main course as alternative diets are increasing in popularity.


Try to have a good selection of beverages for your guests. Many expect a glass (or two) of wine with the meal, but try to avoid high-alcohol wine, as the meal alone is prone to induce “food comas.” There are usually many tasty seasonal beers and ciders offered this time of year for non-wine drinkers. For non-alcohol drinkers make sure to provide juice, iced tea, non-alcoholic cider, sparkling water and whatever else you see fit. It is customary to offer coffee or hot tea after the meal is finished.

Most of all enjoy yourself and your special time spent with family and friends.