Party Ideas

Planning a Thanksgiving to Be Thankful For

By JoAnna Carpentier

Put on your Thanksgiving pants, everybody; it’s time to eat! Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get together with your loved ones to celebrate the things you’re thankful for, all the while easing yourself into a food coma. Like any other holiday or big event, a successful Thanksgiving dinner requires careful planning. If you’re hosting, chances are you’ve got a lot of cooking to do!

Here are a few tips to make your life a little easier in the kitchen…


Plan Ahead

Find out how many guests to expect, who has a +1, who is a vegetarian, and so on. This will help you develop your recipes and know how much of each dish you’ll need to make.

Be sure you have enough table space, chairs, glassware, and dinnerware for everyone (plus extras for holding appetizers, side dishes, desserts, etc). If you’re hosting a large gathering, but live in a small household, there isn’t much sense in buying another table, chairs, and a bunch of dinnerware. Instead, look into rentals. In addition to saving you lots of money, rentals are great because they’re taken away after the event, freeing up precious storage space in your home

To wow your guests with festive decor, reach out to a party decorator or florist to achieve a Pinterest-worthy seasonal look.


Get Organized

Make a combined list of all of the ingredients (and amounts) you’ll need for each recipe and go shopping! Trust us — you do not want to make a supermarket run on Thanksgiving Day, (and you may not even be able to, as many businesses close for the holiday).




Know how long each dish takes, if it needs time to cool or should be served hot, how much oven or stovetop space is required, etc. and make a game plan! Make breads, desserts, and cranberry sauce the day before to make time and oven/stove space for the hot foods you’ll be preparing.

Do as much prep work as possible before Thanksgiving. Cut vegetables, portion and label ingredients, decorate, and prepare the dinner table. That way, on Thanksgiving day, you can just focus on cooking instead of scrambling to make up for lost time or trying to decorate in-between basting the turkey and mashing the potatoes.


Enlist Help

Having a few extra helping hands can make a big difference. Whether it’s help cooking, cleaning, or decorating — a bit of assistance certainly wouldn’t hurt!

To lighten your load, consider focusing solely on dinner and ask your guests to bring desserts and/or beverages. A potluck-style Thanksgiving dinner will require less of your time and effort, and gives everyone a chance to bring their favorite festive dish!

If you’d rather not ask your guests to bring anything, but aren’t feeling up to the task of preparing the meal yourself, hire a caterer. With a professional caterer, you’re not just getting great food; you’ll also get the chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy the company of your loved ones. (Oh, and they clean up after themselves, too. Score!)


Entertain Your Guests

For many families, it’s a Thanksgiving tradition to watch football or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Festive movies, like A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving-themed episodes of your favorite TV shows are also great options. (If you’re hosting a “Friendsgiving” this year, what better show to watch than Friends? The series has a Thanksgiving episode for each of its 10 seasons!)


Autumn Football


Keep the kids occupied with games, coloring pages, and crafts. For those of you in warmer climates, consider inflatable rentals, like slides or bounce houses, for an after-dinner treat. It’ll keep the kiddos busy for hours and give the adults some much-needed time to relax! Crowd-pleasing games like Apples to Apples, Corn Toss, or Horse Shoes are fun for kids and adults, alike.

Print out or create handmade Thanksgiving notecards, and encourage your guests to write down what they’re thankful for, then go around the table to give thanks. These cards are great for guests to take home with them, not only as a reminder of the wonderful holiday you shared, but of the things they’re most grateful for.

We wish you the happiest Thanksgiving (and a safe Black Friday — those bargain shoppers can get crazy)!

Check out our Thanksgiving Pinterest board for decorating tips, recipes, games, printables, and much more!


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  1. Verita November 15, 2015

    Need assistance for thanksgiving party. Serving and cleaning on thanksgiving? Are there any servers available?

    • Tessie Barnett November 16, 2015

      Hi Verita!

      We’d love to help you find someone! Here is a link to our homepage: You can do a search for servers, food services, or even catering. This will give you a list of your local professionals, and you can send them your event details. If you have need any help reaching out to someone, please feel free to give our office a call at 417-889-9909. I hope your Thanksgiving party is a hit!


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