Top 10 Tips for Planning and Organizing Thanksgiving Dinner

Don't let hosting Thanksgiving dinner stress you out. Here are the Top 10 Tips for Planning and Organizing Thanksgiving Dinner ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #dinner #planning
 

10 Essentials for planning Thanksgiving Dinner

If you have plans to host Thanksgiving dinner this year, you’re probably wondering where to begin. The amount of “to-dos” on your list can be overwhelming and you certainly don’t want to leave anything out! Start here with our list of ten things you need to do to plan and organize the best Thanksgiving dinner ever.

 

1. Make a guest list and get a head count

Invitations need to be extended early if you want certain friends and family to make an appearance. Make a list and start making phone calls and sending emails as soon as possible, and make sure you ask guests to RSVP by a certain date so you can get a final head count.

 

2. Plan your meal and make assignments

Once you know how many guests you’ll have, you can start planning your meal. If you’re planning a potluck be sure to contact your guests and ask what they’ll be bringing, or give them an assignment so you’re sure to cover all the Thanksgiving classics. You’ll want to let everyone know how many people will be coming so dishes can be prepared accordingly.

 

3. Make a grocery list and plan your shopping

Gather the recipes you’ll be using and make a grocery list from them. Plan to buy as many items as you can in advance to be sure that you won’t be hunting for something at the last minute. Some items may need to be purchased closer to Thanksgiving day, so make note of these for a final shopping trip.

 

4. Plan your table and décor

You may want to plan something special for your supper table and holiday decorating, or you may need a few more place settings for the amount of guests you’ll have. If you’re not sure where to start, these simple Thanksgiving tablescapes are sure to inspire you! Add any decorations, dinnerware, and other special items to your shopping lists.

 

5. Make a cleaning and decorating schedule

A cleaning and decorating schedule will be your best friend in the weeks leading up to the big meal. You’ll want to make room in your freezer, arrange for guests who will be staying with you, and complete any DIY decorating projects in advance. Plan to have fresh linens, fully-stocked bathrooms, and plenty of room for all the food!

 

6. Complete your shopping

Make your shopping trips as simple as possible. Have your lists at the ready and take some helpers if needed. You may want to delegate the shopping to a trusted family member if you need to complete other tasks. Make sure your freezer, refrigerator, and pantry are clean and ready for the abundance of Thanksgiving items.

 

7. Plan “busy activities” for kids and adults

The last thing you want is boredom at your fabulous Thanksgiving bash! Come up with some simple crafts, games, or other activities for any children you’ve invited, and make sure there are a few things for the adults to do too, just in case. If you feel out of your element in the entertainment department, you may want to ask a friend or family member to take over this task. Check out Pinterest and other websites for ideas.

 

8. Make a D-day schedule

This may be the most important part of your Thanksgiving organization! When it comes to final preparations, you’ll need a master list for things like what to defrost and when, what to cook and when, what needs to be set up, what needs to be cleaned last-minute, and when guests will be arriving. Ask for help if needed, especially when it comes to the most important tasks like cooking the turkey, making the gravy, and setting the table. You may also want to set out an appetizer or start guests off with something to drink while you finalize everything.

 

9. List last-minute preparations

You can make these things a part of your D-day schedule by placing them at the end. This part of your list should include things like carving the turkey, setting out the gravy, pouring drinks, lighting candles, turning off the oven, reheating pre-made side dishes, adding dressings to salads, and more. Once you’ve got those things under control, be sure to take a breath and enjoy the meal with your guests – you’ve earned it!

 

10. Take it easy after dinner!

Hopefully the stress you may have felt leading up to the meal has abated and you can look forward to dessert. You may need to do a few more things like slice pies or whip a cream topping. Chances are you’ll have many willing hands to help clean up once the food has been eaten. Be sure to wrap up leftovers as soon as possible (within two hours is best). More than anything, take time to sit and enjoy friends, family, and your time together on this wonderful Thanksgiving day!

 

Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at Utterly Inexperienced, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

For more Thanksgiving Inspiration check out these ideas:

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14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

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Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to join together around a table and share in the color, tastes, and textures of some of our seasonal favorites. All of those things can be enhanced with a classy Thanksgiving dinner tablescape, but after all that cooking, what host has time to come up with fancy table decorations? You do! Take a look at these inspiring, beautiful ideas for easy Thanksgiving tablescapes and put one together for your holiday meal.

 

 

1. Natural Wood

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

If you have access to some natural wood, this may be the tablescape for you. The simple cuts taken from 2-3 sizes of stump provide the perfect rustic base for the entire table. They can be used for holding place cards, candles, dishes, and even some of your Thanksgiving foods. A simple pinstriped fabric is used as a table runner and looks great beneath the colored pumpkins.

 

 

2. Natural Pieces with Bronze and Copper

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

A mix of natural and metallic elements can be the perfect pairing for your Thanksgiving table. Here, bronze and copper rest on straw and twig-type mats. The copper vase in the center also holds natural branches. Pears and a nice pop of color on the classic white dishes pull the whole look together!

 

 

3. Golden Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

Dip or spray paint the natural decorations of autumn to get this metallic look. A simple strip of burlap down the center of your table can be topped with golden pumpkins, gourds, pinecones, and branches, dotted with candles to really set the mood.

 

 

4. Fall Flowers and Rich Brown

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

Rich, chocolatey browns in the napkins and table runner bring the true feel of autumn to this table. Use live flowers in fall colors, tall candleholders filled with gourds, and mood-setting candles as your centerpieces.

 

 

5. Black and White

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

Although this tablescape was put together for Halloween, black and white can be a great look for your Turkey Day table too! Mix the bold contrast with a simple combination of gourds, pumpkins, raffia, and pinecones to bring things down a notch. Striped napkins and plain tags as name cards are a great addition.

 

6. Wheat and Acorns

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

Dried wheat bunches make fabulous centerpieces, and this table’s focal point is boosted by the wicker place mats under the plain white dinner plates. Burlap and artificial acorns (or real, if you live where they’re available!) add more natural elements. Use candlesticks of various heights to create dimension.

 

7. Metallics and Berries

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

Metallics really are a fabulous place to start when it comes to your Thanksgiving tablescape, and as you can see, there are many ways to use them. In this design, gold chargers and faux berry sprigs brighten the room, complemented by gold-trimmed napkins, tapered candles, and a platter of gourds.

 

8. Decorate While You Wait

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

Don’t forget the kids’ table! This one is covered in kraft paper and features seasonal fruit and crayons for decorating the “tablecloth.” Personalize each child’s plate with a name card just like the adults. They’re bound to love it!

 

9. Backyard Centerpieces

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

Take a walk in your own back yard if you need some last-minute centerpieces like these! Cut a few branches with colorful leaves for vases and gather pinecones to place at each plate setting. Natural colors like creams, browns, and leafy yellows make a great combination.

 

10. All Fall

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

There are many little treats to uncover with this tablescape. Start with an autumn plaid tablecloth and follow the directions on Celebrations.com for the creative leaf table runner. Candleholders in various shapes and sizes can be filled with acorns and topped with fall flowers, and pear place settings are once again a winning feature.

 

11. A Throw “Tablecloth” and Nature

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

Sweet Something Design calls it a “Charlie Brown” tablescape, but we call it simply fabulous! A plaid throw is used as a tablecloth and natural décor like twigs, pinecones, wicker, and acorns are all that is needed to dress things up. Play with colors and patterns in your dinnerware and napkins to make your settings pop.

 

12. Simple Elegance

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

This design uses things you might already have in your kitchen! Overturned pie plates are covered with autumn leaves to hold up candles anchored in miniature pumpkins. Tartlet molds become holders for place cards with the help of small magnets. Keep the rest of the table simple with plain tablecloths, dishes, and napkins for a simple, classic elegance.

 

13. Plank Tablerunner

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

A plank serves as a unique kind of table runner on this table. A couple of burlap strips and a centered basket of pinecones and greens top things off and the same greenery is a perfect way to tie up place cards. Give guests something to do while waiting for the meal with a paper on which to write statements of gratitude.

 

14. Crossed Burlap and Feathers

Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and to enjoy a wonderful meal together. Help to set the mood with a beautiful Thanksgiving tablescape. Here are 14 Easy Thanksgiving Tablescapes ~ Tipsaholic.com #thanksgiving #table #tablescape

We’re making a return to metallics here, but with some great additions. A cable-knit throw makes a clever tablecloth and is criss-crossed with strips of burlap. Napkins are printed with gold feathers to match the feathers used as part of the centerpiece arrangement. Make your silverware settings unique by tying them up with twigs and sprigs of rosemary or other greens.

 

 

Featured image via Better Homes and Gardens.

 

Kayla Lilly is a photographer, writer, wife, and mama making a house a home in eastern Idaho. She met her mister while working at an amusement park and married him a year later after deciding there was no way to live without him. The amusement has continued as they’ve added three kids and a passel of pets to their lives while finishing college and starting a photography business. Drawing inspiration from the whirlwinds of marriage, parenthood, and the media, Kayla blogs at Utterly Inexperienced, and spends the rest of her time chasing chickens, organizing junk drawers, diapering toddlers, and photographing everyone willing to step in front of her lens.

 

Need more Thanksgiving tips? Find them here:

13 Easy Side Dishes for Winter Gatherings - Tipsaholic.com          Turkey          Fall Desserts

Easy Side Dishes              Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes      Fall Dessert Recipes