If you are planning to have friends and family over for a Thanksgiving feast, chances are you want everything to go as smoothly as possible. From cleaning to packing leftovers for departing guests, hosting a dinner can be very stressful.
To help with your holiday get together, I’ve created a free 6-page Thanksgiving planner (PDF) you can use along with some pointers on how to manage your time.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
There is a lot to do when throwing a semi-fancy dinner for friends and family. Below you will find some tips and ideas to make your night a success.
Avoid stress and enjoy your evening by planning ahead with our Thanksgiving planner (printable pdf). To get your free copy, just fill out the form at the end of this post.
Quick Links to Info Below
- 1 Things To Consider First
- 2 Using Your Thanksgiving Planner
- 3 Suggested Cleaning Schedule
- 4 Out of Town and Overnight Guests
- 5 Parking
- 6 And Lastly, Your Thanksgiving Planner
Things To Consider First
Before you decide to hold Thanksgiving in your home, here are some things to consider:
- Do you have the time to put a dinner together?
- Can you afford it?
- Is there enough space for the number of people you are inviting?
- Can you actually cook?
Scheduling Your Time
So, first things first. Depending on what you are planning for this day, make sure you have the time to do so. Cooking the dinner is going to take a chunk of your time that day, but you also have to set aside time for:
- cleaning your home
- shopping for ingredients AND for the home (kitchenware, dinnerware, decor, etc.)
- making appointments: caterers, carpet cleaners, landscaper, kennel
- following up on unanswered invitations
Thanksgiving Time Savers
If you don’t have the time to make your night a stressless success, then skip it. You will always have next year.
If your guests consist of close friends and family, I suggest asking for help. Trust me, they are probably happy to get out of doing their own dinner this year.
Another kitchen time-saver: ask guests to bring a dish. Or consider hiring caterers. You can even order some appetizers and sides from your local grocery chain.
No time for shopping? Lots of grocery chains have pick-up service and some even deliver. Check your local grocery chain for this type of service.
And, of course, don’t forget Amazon. If you are a Prime member, you can get 2-day “free” delivery on almost everything. Not a member? Click here to try them for free for 30 days. You can always cancel it later.
If you live in a participating area, Amazon Fresh can have fresh groceries delivered as well. Need something the day of your get together? Amazon may be able to help too with Amazon Now.
No time to clean? Hire a cleaning service. You can find one on Amazon as well. Try Amazon’s Home Service. They make sure to do background checks on all service providers.
They are also required to be licensed and insured. It’s where I found my handyman. The best part is that everything goes through Amazon including payment for services.
Budgeting your Thanksgiving Party
If you plan on throwing a grand dinner, make sure you can afford it. Remember that there are more holidays to follow in the coming month and those usually involve spending money on gifts.
My advice is to create a budget based on how many people are coming to your party. Don’t forget to include children, spouses, and significant others when calculating the headcount.
If the number of people coming is too much for your pocket, then limit your invitations to family and a few close friends.
Check out the budget page in the Thanksgiving planner to help you put together an affordable dinner for all invited.
Make sure that your home and kitchen can accommodate all your guests as well as all the dishes that need to be prepared. A hundred guests and one bathroom will not do.
You also want to make sure your kitchen can handle all the dishes on your menu so that your guests are not waiting two hours between courses.
Don’t have enough seating? Ask friends or neighbors for extra chairs they may be willing to lend you. If you are good friends with your next-door neighbor, extend an invite in exchange for using their kitchen.
If you live in a nice climate, take your dinner outside. Two years ago, my brother hosted Thanksgiving at his home in Florida. He had lots of guests who enjoyed the day both inside and outside the home. I know I did.
Just make sure to have seating for outside as well and have a backup plan if the weather doesn’t hold.
Leave the Experiments to the Pros
If you have never cooked dinner, or you know that your meals aren’t usually up to par, do not host a holiday like Thanksgiving. Although this holiday’s focus is on getting together with friends and family, good food is also expected.
But if you have your heart on hosting it, then please hire caterers or someone you know who is great at cooking. Some people fast all day just to make up for all the eating later.
Using Your Thanksgiving Planner
I suggest giving yourself a month or two to plan your holiday dinner. If you’re aiming for a big event, then you may need a little more time.
You may also need to enlist help from friends and family. Ask if they’d like to co-host your event. That way, it’s not all on you.
Below are a timeline and suggested tasks you can add to your Thanksgiving planner.
2 Months Out
- Make appointments for services such as catering and carpet cleaning
- Start creating your invitation list and calculate your budget
1 Month Out
- Make appointments for services such as landscaping and kenneling
- Send out invitations
- Fill out your cleaning schedule
- Inspect the home and fix any necessary repairs
3 Weeks Out
- Fill out your meal plan – don’t forget to ask invitees about any food allergies and restrictions including alcoholic beverages
- Add ingredients to your grocery shopping list
- Put together recipes
- Fill out the cooking schedule – determine what can be made ahead of time
2 Weeks Out
- Do any home shopping: furniture, decor, silver-, kitchen-, and dinnerware
- Have entertainment ready for kids as well as adults – board games, karaoke, etc.
- Get final headcount by following up on unanswered invitations
- Begin chores listed on cleaning schedule – see suggestions for cleaning schedule below
1 Week Out
- Begin moving furniture and decluttering messes to make room around the home
- Continue following your cleaning schedule – see below for suggestions
- Buy all necessary ingredients and drinks
- Begin prepping for recipes
- Prepare any foods that can be made ahead of time
- Start cooking – follow the cooking schedule
- Do any last-minute cleaning
- If everything is running smoothly, shower, dress, and get ready for guests
- Finally, enjoy spending time with friends and family knowing that you planned well and things might just happen – no biggie.
Suggested Cleaning Schedule
- Day 14 – Dust ceiling, ceiling fans, vents, light fixtures
- Day 13 – Clean windows
- Day 12 – Clean baseboards
- Day 11 – Clean up the yard and front entryway
- Day 10 – Wash curtains: windows and shower curtains
- Day 9 – Clean and organize rooms
- Day 8 – Clean kitchen cabinets and drawers
- Day 7 – Clean the oven
- Day 6 – Dust everything
- Day 5 – Add decor to home
- Day 4 – Clean refrigerator
- Day 3 – Clean bathrooms, doorknobs, banisters, and light switch covers
- Day 2 – Scour kitchen sink after cooking; sweep/vacuum/mop floors; empty coat closet
- Day 1 – Do some quick touch-ups in bathrooms
Out of Town and Overnight Guests
Make sure to provide out-of-town guests with hotel accommodations.
If you are planning to have overnight guests in your home, make sure you have enough pillows, blankets, etc. Click here if you need help with accommodating your overnight guests.
Don’t forget parking. If you are having a large party, let your neighbors know. They just may offer your guests space in their driveway.
Suggest those who live close by to carpool or better yet, hire an Uber especially if your party will be serving alcoholic drinks.
And Lastly, Your Thanksgiving Planner
If you would like our free 6-page Thanksgiving Planner to help you out with your holiday feast, fill out the form below.
Or if you prefer, you can check out our 17-page Thanksgiving planner in our shop by clicking here. Included in this planner are recipe templates, calendar page, invitations tracker, and a cleaning schedule.
Know someone who could use a Thanksgiving Planner this year? Use the share buttons above and below this post to help them out.
Need a Christmas Planner too? Click here to see all that comes in with our free Christmas planner.
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