How to Host a Large Thanksgiving for a Crowd

Large Thanksgiving

If you’ve been tasked with hosting Thanksgiving this year and you’re expecting a lot of family, don’t freak out. We know it can seem impossible to cook a ton of food, clean the house, prepare appetizers, bake desserts and be a good host or hostess all at once. But rest assured, hosting a large Thanksgiving IS possible and with a few tips and tricks, you can manage it all.

Clean & Move On

First things first. We get it, you want to have a clean, cozy house to welcome your guests into. But clean with the understanding that there will probably be spills, dirt, fingerprints and paw prints throughout the house. Your spotless house won’t stay perfect all day and that’s okay. Just let it go. Don’t let the stress ruin your day. You have bigger things to focus on.

Create Lists

Lists make the world function. Trust us on this. You’ll have so much to shop for, prepare and set up and you won’t want to try to remember it all. Make lists for everything you’re serving, the supplies you’ll need for serving and decorating and the groceries you’ll need to get. Break your grocery list down into what can be bought ahead of time and what needs to be bought at the last minute. Check your lists to see what can be streamlined. If you need onion and celery for a couple of dishes, prep them both and stick them away in containers in the fridge until you need them. We want to make everything as organized and prepped ahead of time as possible to create less stress the day of.

Decide How Much to Make

You’ll need to double or triple recipes in order to feed a large group. Get an idea of how many adults and kids are coming for Thanksgiving so you can accurately shop for groceries to provide enough food. Men typically eat more than women (we all know Uncle Jim is going up for seconds and maybe thirds) and children eat less than adults. Know your group so you have food to go around.

Keep the Apps Simple

When hosting Thanksgiving, everyone wants to go all out on appetizers and get creative, but we’re here to tell you to keep it simple. You’re already prepping a large meal. You just need a few simple appetizers to keep everyone’s hunger at bay. Relish trays, deviled eggs, cheese and cracker trays, fruit and dips are just a few ideas of easy apps almost everyone loves.

Plan Your Drinks

Cocktails are usually hard to mix up with so much going on the day of. Keep it easy and serve a champagne or prosecco with your appetizers. Choose one red and one white wine for dinner as well as two beer choices. Make sure you also have non-alcoholic options for non-drinkers and kids. The other easy option is to ask your guests to BYOB so you don’t have to worry about drinks and people can bring a bottle to share.

Ask for Help

Hosting Thanksgiving is a big task. Don’t feel bad to enlist some help. Most people are more than willing to help out and besides, they’re family, that’s what they’re there for right? Ask for a kitchen assistant for the day or make a chore chart to give multiple people a task to do. You can even ask each person to bring an appetizer, side dish or dessert to take some of the food responsibility off your plate (pun intended).

Make Room in the Fridge

Clean out your refrigerator before getting groceries so you have room for everything you’ll need to store over the next week. You don’t want to get home and realize that your turkey, vegetables, potatoes and pies won’t all fit.

Accommodate for Kids

Borrow porta-cribs, highchairs and other necessities for babies and toddlers to make mealtime and nap time easier. Provide activities to keep kids busy like crafts, board games, puzzles and cards. You can even have a room set up for kids to watch movies after dinner while the adults clean up and relax.

Have a Buffet Style Meal

Pictured Above: Ashley Valebeck Server

Buffets are the easiest way to serve a large Thanksgiving meal. Organize a buffet table in advance with the necessary platters, bowls, serving pieces and utensils that you’ll need for people to go through the line.

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Create More Counter Space

Bar carts and islands provide extra room to set drinks, glasses, dishes, desserts, or whatever else you might need room for during a large Thanksgiving dinner. Set yourself up for success and utilize a bar cart or island so you have plenty of room to spread out and create a nice flow for guests.

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Shop Kitchen Islands

Plan Out Seating Arrangements

You’ll want to make sure you have enough seating for the whole group beforehand so everyone can sit down for Thanksgiving dinner together. You can rent tables and chairs, which can be pretty affordable depending on the company and amount you need. You just set up, tear down and the house is back to normal. You can also go with a kid’s table so that the adults can all sit at one table and the kids can sit at a smaller table. If you’d like everyone at one table for dinner, opt for a larger table, maybe even one with a bench, that also has one or more leaves. That way you can keep it smaller for everyday use but extend it out to host a crowd.

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Provide Containers for Leftovers

While you’re shopping for groceries, pick up some containers for guests to dish up leftovers to take home with them. Nobody ever thinks to bring their own containers and while we all love leftovers from Thanksgiving, you don’t want to be the only stuck with a large amount of them.

Remember to take a few breaths while you’re planning Thanksgiving. Don’t let the small things stress you out. At the end of the day, everyone is gathering to see each other and eat way too much turkey. Your family really doesn’t care about anything else.

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