How do I host Thanksgiving dinner in my new home? Following what has potentially felt like years and years of being someone else’s guest for celebratory events, a wonderful opportunity to christen and warm up your new home, is by taking on a hosting responsibility of your very own. A holiday event that has less overall pressure than Christmas, with just as much fun focus on delicious food and the gathering of good company – Thanksgiving Day! Mid September is the perfect time to get the ball rolling on brainstorming how you would like this experience to unfold. Giving yourself plenty of time to prepare is a great way to make sure things stay stress-free, first and foremost. Although there definitely does not need to be any self-imposed expectation to host like you are throwing a black tie ball for nobility, embracing the planning of an event that will involve more than ordering a few pizzas, can and actually should be, a lot of fun! Follow these easy steps to set out on a journey to become the host with the most.

#1 – Set The Date

Thanksgiving is a fantastic first hosting holiday to work with because you have an entire long weekend of days to choose from for your actual event. If you are leaning towards the ‘Friends-Giving’ route, you may want to think about Saturday over Sunday, or Monday. If you and your new home are taking over official festive duties from a family member, the more traditional time or actual holiday (aka Monday) might be a better fit. In terms of timing restrictions, Sunday can be a nice in between. Your younger guests can shake out the party bug earlier in the weekend, and with Monday off from school/work, etc., hopefully no one will feel rushed to get home early because of commitments in the morning. Deciding when you are going to pull the trigger on the big holiday moment in your new home, is your first important decision as Thanksgiving host.

#2 – Pick Your Guest List

If familial hosting responsibilities are being passed down to you, for better or worse, you might not have too much of a say in terms of who makes the guest list. However, check in with your area’s local COVID-19 indoor gathering recommendations and/or restrictions. Keeping your invite list limited, could help to make everyone attending feel safe and comfortable. If you are initiating this celebration and have full control over who you would like to invite – keep in mind that Thanksgiving tends to be on the cozier side of holidays. Traditionally people eat a lot, exchange what they are grateful for, and sink into the couch for relaxing and football watching. In other words, this might not be the best window of opportunity to have your boss and his/her significant other over for the very first time. Pick an appropriate number of guests that you can comfortably seat (without having to buy more furniture). Next, think of who you can really be yourself around, which of your friends and family get along well, and go from there. Surrounding yourself with people who bring great, positive energy, is key to hosting a happy Thanksgiving in your new home.

#3 – Decide And Design A Menu

Once you know how many guests you will be aiming to feed, you can get started on the menu you would like to prepare, and just how much food you will need to prepare it! One of the largest undertakings when hosting an event for the first time is mathematically figuring out just how many potatoes, and every other item, you will need. This may seem silly, but things can go downhill shockingly fast when there is not enough food to comfortably serve every guest. Once you have calculated portions, you can set yourself a budget, and follow up with all of your guests in regards to what they can bring. If you are prepared to provide all food items yourself, of course that is a personal choice. However, we strongly recommend taking up the offers of guests who ask if they can bring anything, and what. Even if it is simply a prepared dessert or dinner rolls, it allows them to contribute to the celebration and also takes something off of your to-do list (and out of your budget). When that is decided and settled, you can plan ahead of time for how much oven space you will need and what you can potentially prepare beforehand. If it is a BYOB gathering, typically a host will provide all of the non-alcoholic beverages. Don’t overcrowd your fridge with cans and jugs; grabbing a dollar store plastic barrel and filling it up with ice can be the perfect space saver for soft drinks, water, and juice. Investing in a counter sitting drink dispenser is another great option here too. If all else fails, keeping your guests full on food and drinks is a sure fire way to a successful first Thanksgiving in your new home.

#4 – Deck The Halls: Fall Edition

Next up: how do you want to serve your food? Is this a plated dinner event or more casual? Will everyone be seated at the table or do you plan on having guests scattered throughout the kitchen, dining room and/or family room? How people will be eating is key in understanding how you should decorate! Because Thanksgiving tends to be a meal with many different pieces, having a designated sitting area for all attending is probably best. Even if you are serving food in more of a potluck/buffet style; a good rule of thumb is that if utensils are needed, so is a chair. You can keep things simple here or be a little bit extra with place settings and name cards. Small individual pumpkins are always fun, and a great, inexpensive take home gift for each of your guests. This can be the moment you have been waiting for to bust out the good plates, or an awesome opportunity to purchase cute, decorative paper plates that can go right into the compost! Deciding ahead of time, and stocking up on extra plate/dinnerware if need be, can help to keep things running smoothly on the day. You can go all out at your local decor store, or get resourceful and creative. If it feels good, and invokes warmth – however you choose to decorate will help set the stage for you and your new home’s first run at hosting Thanksgiving.

#5 – Cover Your Basic Bases

Even though the biggest hurdles are now out of your way, resist the temptation to leave the smaller details undealt with, or until the last minute. When you are hosting a holiday and welcoming guests into your home, more than anything you want them to feel comfortable. This especially includes preparing your bathroom and having backup items and space ready if needed. Have a full hand soap, lots of toilet paper, and a few extra hand towels on standby. When more than your normal household is using a washroom and drying their hands, adding a fresh/dry towel mid evening is an extra nice touch. Have spare hangers in your entranceway set aside for coats, or designate an out of the way space for people to leave them. Load up on garbage bags and be prepared to switch them out throughout the evening, if and when they fill up. This goes for the recycling as well. Check ahead for football game times and that you have the channels or streaming capabilities to watch them. It also never hurts to prepare a playlist in advance so you are not constantly searching on your phone or computer for new music. If you live in a warmer area, you can organize a fun game of touch football in the backyard. This will help work everyone’s appetites up for dinner, and free up some space in the kitchen while you put the final touches on everything. Whether you share it with your guests or not, as a host, having a rough timeline/map of how and when the day’s events will unfold can be very helpful. When you have confidence and planning for keeping your guests entertained and fed on time; there is no way you won’t kill it as a first time Thanksgiving host.

Whichever day of the weekend you end up celebrating on, let this year’s Thanksgiving be your perfect inaugural run to hopefully many more festive parties in the future. If you give yourself enough space and time to plan and prepare, there is nothing you can’t tackle as a rookie holiday host. And once the first doorbell rings and things swing into motion; try to remember to have some fun yourself. The best host is not one locked away in the kitchen, or anxiously following everyone around with a cloth and garbage bag. Enjoy the food, enjoy the company, enjoy the day!

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