Tips for Hosting Your First Thanksgiving Dinner

Written by on October 22, 2012 in Family - No comments | Print this page


Thanksgiving is a time that so many Americans look forward to. A time to gather with family and friends to feed on a wonderful feast. A time to give thanks for living on such a plentiful land. A time of rest and relaxation, away from work and the worries of life, that is, unless you are the one hosting and preparing for the actual dinner. If this is the case, you may feel a great deal of stress and worry about making sure Thanksgiving dinner is all everyone expects it to be.

Well worry not, because the fact that you do have concerns about making your first Thanksgiving dinner you have taken the first step of knowing how much effort goes into this American feast. Therefore, you will do the due diligence of making the proper preparations to make it great – here are our tips to make your first Thanksgiving meal an unforgettable one, in a good way!

1. Plan Ahead: The first step is what you are already doing, planning ahead. You need to make sure you know the basic steps of what you want to accomplish. The menu, which recipes you will use, how much food to buy and how you will serve your delectable meal.

2. Buying Enough: Once you figure out what your menu will consist of, it is time to figure out how much you need of what. Take into consideration the people you are inviting, how many adults, how many men and growing teens and any young children, then you need to figure out how much leftovers you would like to have. Turkey is of course the all-time favorite main dish of this American holiday, with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce coming in close seconds. The rule of thumb by many is to estimate one-pound of turkey per person. When it comes to sides figure two potatoes per guest or half a can of vegetable per person. Remember, when in doubt, it is always better to have more than enough than to run out and leave your guest yearning for more.

3. Defrost the Turkey: This is a major tip, because if you do not start defrosting your turkey in time Thanksgiving could be disastrous. So unless you are buying a fresh Turkey a few days prior make sure your know the equation for safely defrosting your Turkey. It is suggested to allow 24 hours in the refrigerator per five pounds of Turkey. So if you have a twenty-pound turkey, you need to stick it in the fridge four days before you want to cook it.

4. Wake Up Early: Cooking the turkey takes time, so you will want to wake up early to prep your bird and get it ready for the oven (do not forget to take the giblets out first). While most turkeys come with cooking instructions, here is another way to help you figure out how long to cook your turkey. Take the weight of your turkey in pounds and multiply it by fifteen to get the number of minutes it will take to cook your bird at 325 degrees. So a twenty pound turkey will take five hours to bake. If your turkey is stuffed, plan on adding an extra 20 minutes. It is always best to use a meat thermometer to make sure your turkey is cooked thoroughly.

5. Stagger Dishes: When planning your menu, figure out ahead of time how long it will take to prep and cook all of your dishes so you know the order to make them that Thursday. Also take note of what dishes you can prep ahead of time – this will give you extra time for a little relaxation that day. Staggering dishes also allows you to make sure your dishes are cooked and ready all at once for a perfectly timed meal.

This is a guest post.  Susan Wright may be a veterinarian and dog expert, but in her down time, she enjoys taking care of her family and participating in activities that create lasting memories for all involved.

Image courtesy of piyato /


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