Thanksgiving Hosting Hacks

thanksgiving table with white napkins
Hosting Thanksgiving may seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be. We're giving you our best hosting tips, tricks, and hacks for a stress-free holiday, complete with Thanksgiving menus and recipes that boast an easy cleanup. No matter who you host for the holiday, you’ll be able to actually enjoy time outside the kitchen with these quick-and-easy Thanksgiving ideas.

Rely on Pre-Planned Thanksgiving Menus

If you are hosting Thanksgiving for someone with a dietary restriction, don’t stress about reinventing the meal. Our vegetarian Thanksgiving menu, low-calorie Thanksgiving menu, and gluten-free Thanksgiving menu offer straightforward recipes to cater to every allergy and food preference. If you need only small substitutions, just pick-and-choose the Thanksgiving dishes that best fit your holiday celebration.

Put Out a Veggie Platter for Kids

Piling healthy vegetables into a turkey-shaped assortment will delight young guests who are sure to gobble up this nutritious hummus appetizer spread. Start your Thanksgiving meal with our colorful recipe by layering celery, sweet peppers, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, and grape tomatoes in the shape of a turkey. Top off the appetizer tray with piped hummus in the center of the veggies, and you won’t have a single person asking when dinner will be ready.

Make a Giant Pumpkin Pan Pie

Don’t stress yourself by making multiple pumpkin pies this year. Instead, make your traditional pumpkin pie go even further by baking one extra-large version with double the portions. Your Thanksgiving guests won't mind the rectangular pumpkin pie slices if it means there's enough for seconds (or thirds!) this year.

Prep Overnight Refrigerator Rolls

The best tip for creating a delicious Thanksgiving feast? Relying on make-ahead staples for the big day! If you’re used to homemade Thanksgiving rolls, try this make-ahead trick to save time during the holiday. Our soft, buttery dinner rolls are easy to prep the night before Thanksgiving. Customize your yummy rolls with whole wheat, Parmesan-herb, and salt and pepper varieties.

Stick to White Plates

Crisp white plates are our entertaining secret. Food looks its best on white plates, and the neutral color is easy to mix and match with your favorite holiday table settings. No matter the dish, your Thanksgiving feast will shine on simple dishes.

Embrace a Store-Bought Shortcut

Our favorite store-bought shortcut? Store-bought pie crust. Simply unwrap and fill—no one has to know you didn't make the base of this spiral-topped sweet potato pie yourself!

Prepare Your Pans

Ensure you've got all the pans, utensils, and measuring units you need before you start baking. We like to set them out and label each one by dish. Or, to make clean-up even easier, you can purchase one-time-use pans at the grocery store.

Cover Your Turkey in Bacon

Worried about a dry turkey ruining your holiday meal? Cover your Thanksgiving bird in bacon and relax. The flavorful bacon will baste the meat and crisp the outside to succulent perfection. This easy twist on your holiday main course will delight guests, and may even become the newest tradition for your family feast.

Make Your Stuffing in a Muffin Tin

Make individual Thanksgiving stuffing portions and bake them up in an easy-to-clean muffin tin. With this method, everyone will get the perfect combination of crispy edges and a creamy center. If your guests favor a savory Thanksgiving stuffing, try our apple, bacon, and onion recipe. If you prefer a sweet kick, we recommend the rosemary, ham, and cherry-based cups.

Let Guests Play Mixologist

There's no need to play bartender at Thanksgiving. Set up a well-stocked bar cart and let your friends and family do the rest. If they need a nudge in the right direction, our popular pumpkin pie nog is always a hit during holiday parties.

Here are the essentials for your bar cart:

  • Liquors like vodka, tequila, whiskey, gin, and rum.
  • Fun mixers like club soda, tonic water, fruit juice, and simple syrups.
  • Garnishes like olives and fresh fruit.
  • Basics including ice, cocktail napkins, and straws!

Assemble the Appetizer

Skip the fancy Thanksgiving appetizers and assemble a crowd-pleasing charcuterie tray. Everything comes from the grocery store, so you can unwrap and assemble in minutes. We like to include a few cured meats, two or three cheeses, crackers, marinated olives, and mustard.

Keep Your Centerpieces Simple

Tall glass pillar centerpieces give the table a festive feel without breaking the bank. Assemble these centerpieces lightning-fast with just a few sprigs of foliage, autumn gourds, and mini pumpkins. Create more than one and space the centerpieces down the middle of a long Thanksgiving table.

Give the Kids Something to Do

Keep the kids entertained on Thanksgiving Day with our free printable holiday place mats. All you need are pencils and crayons, and kids can amuse themselves filling out silly puzzles and drawing a turkey feast of their own!

Make Individual Mason Jar Pies

With the help store-bought pie crust and Mason jar lids, every Thanksgiving host can whip together miniature pies in just 15 minutes. Fill your individual pies with an apple or pumpkin filling, then stick them into your convection oven (saving the larger oven for the turkey). This easy recipe will quickly fill your home with the sweet smell of traditional Thanksgiving desserts.

Say Yes to Your Microwave

Short on oven space? Turn to your trusty microwave for Thanksgiving dessert. These quick gingerbread mug cakes steam while they cook, so they're extra moist and delicious.

Love Your Slow Cooker

Free up stove and oven space with our Thanksgiving entertaining secret—the slow cooker! We especially love it for hands-off dishes like mashed potatoes. Luckily, our most popular mashed potato recipe is slow cooker friendly, which makes it a no-brainer pick for your Thanksgiving feast.

Cover the Table in Kraft Paper

This shortcut Thanksgiving tablecloth is perfect for hosting the holidays. Set out crayons and let your guests color all over it, or encourage them to color something they are thankful for this holiday season. When it comes time to cleanup after Thanksgiving dinner, simply remove and toss it away!

Skip Fancy Silverware

Keep the silver stored until a small holiday gathering. It will save you time hand-washing and keeps things casual. We like to mix and match everyday utensils for the Thanksgiving feast to meet the needs of a crowd.

Use Mason Jar Glasses

Move over, fancy stemware—we're serving up Thanksgiving drinks in Mason jars this year. The jars are inexpensive and easy to clean, and can be used year-round!

Forget a Fancy Roasting Rack

There's no need to buy a special roasting pan just for Thanksgiving. For a perfectly cooked bird, layer a large pan with cut vegetables like celery, carrots, onion, and garlic. Place your turkey on top, and you've got our favorite way to roast.

One-Pan Good Gravy

Don’t even think about dirtying another dish. Just make your gravy right in the roasting dish. Simply skim off the turkey fat using a spoon, and add any flavorings you like!

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