A Mother’s Guide To Hosting Your First Thanksgiving

Hosting your first Thanksgiving is an exciting event—let’s make it a stress free one.

As the mother of four, I have years of experience hosting Thanksgiving. When my eldest daughters moved out on their own, I remember them anxiously calling me for assistance with hosting their first Thanksgiving. It brought flashbacks of my mother helping me with my first Thanksgiving, so of course I was ready to help my baby girls. The first thing I did was jot down some quick tips to help them get out of their heads and into action. I could tell the stress of hosting Thanksgiving was overwhelming them. Sound familiar? Don’t fret—I’ve turned my quick tips into a thorough guide to help you host a stress free first Thanksgiving.


8 quick tips to hosting your first Thanksgiving info-graphic.


Take A Deep Breath

Cozy bedding in orange and cream.
Photo: Instagram @blindseyj

The first “anything” can be full of anxieties. Hosting your first Thanksgiving will put you in the limelight and all eyes will be on you—calm down! You can do this. Although Thanksgiving is the biggest sharing of the table each year and you’re responsible for a great outcome, there’s no need to panic. Breathe and clear your mind. Believing in yourself is the key to hosting a successful first Thanksgiving.

Jot Down Your Guest List

Women in plaid shirt standing in kitchen jotting something down on counter top.
Photo: Instagram @blindseyj

After you’ve calmed down, take a minute to jot down your guest list. A headcount is key because it will give you an idea of how much food and beverage you need to purchase. Even if everyone doesn’t show on the big day, it’s okay. Your objective is to ensure that there’s enough food to generously accommodate all of your guests.

Extra tip: Request RSVPs by a specific date so you can get close to an exact head count.

Set Your Budget and Plan Your Menu

Elegant table set up with The Company Store products.
Photo: Instagram @blindseyj

A Thanksgiving menu can be extensive because naturally the host tends to cook most of the meal. Though it would be nice to go all out, prepare a five-star gourmet dinner, and wow everyone, your budget is the determining factor here. Set your budget first, then move forward with the menu.

Creating a Thanksgiving menu can be problematic. Questions like what do I want to cook, what do I need to cook and what new recipe am I going to try are just half of the issues that may arise. The first thing to do is find out is if anyone on your guest list has food allergies. Contact each guest individually or send out a group text for confirmation. Once you’ve identified who has what food allergy write their name and food allergy down on a sticky note and place the notes around your kitchen as a reminder to avoid certain ingredients when planning your menu.

Remember Thanksgiving is a festive day and many of your guests may want to help with the preparations. Ask a few family and friends to bring a dish to your first Thanksgiving. It’s a great way of including them, while lightening your load. Besides, people love to show off their perfectly oven roasted turkey, cheesiest macaroni and cheese, and one of a kind sweet potato pie. The more cooks the better. There can never be too much food on a table with a home full of hungry people!

Get Organized

Couch with decorative throw pillows and throw blanket.
Photo: Instagram @blindseyj

At this point the pressure may rise and you may feel a little concerned. Remember my first tip, take a deep breath. Now that you’ve got your guest list, set your budget, and prepared your menu, it’s time to get organized. Trust me, I know how challenging it is to balance work, school, and family, so creating an organized plan is essential to your success.

Start by writing down a to-do list or outline that will keep you organized throughout the preparation process. This will help you make sure you set aside appropriate time to perform the duties required for hosting your first Thanksgiving. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and share some of the duties on your to-do list. Ask friends and family to keep you company while you are prepping the kitchen—they will keep you calm. Don’t forget the kids—let them get involved and be your little helper. The objective is to enjoy yourself in an organized fashion, so loosen up and sit back. The ride just started.

Line Up Your Clean Up Crew

Toddler in cozy PJ's on bed.
Photo: Instagram @blindseyj

When your guests leave the mess remains. Preselect a few people to assist you with clean up. This should never be something you try to do by yourself. You’ll be too exhausted from the Thanksgiving celebration to complete this task alone.

Get Comfortable

Love seat with leather throw pillow and throw blanket.
Photo: Instagram @blindseyj

On your mark. Get set. Go! The question is how do you get to the finish line? Let’s start with a pair of comfortable slippers and cotton lounge pajamas. Yes, I said it! The more relaxed you are, the more at ease you’ll feel when the big day comes. Find a pair of slippers that will embrace the soles of your feet and provide extra comfort. Cotton lounge pajamas are the perfect match for your slippers. They are light weight, but also presentable. Plus, they come in a variety of styles! If you want to feel extra special buy an apron to boost your confidence. Now suit up. I’ll see you at the finish line.

Prepare to Cook

Semi Messy bed with throw pillows.
Photo: Instagram @blindseyj

Pace yourself –this is not a one-day event. Remember that cook times vary according to the size and weight of the item. Meats take longer to cook so plan to season your meats a couple of days in advance. When Thanksgiving day comes, the seasonings will be gracefully marinated in your meat and all you’ll have to do is pop it in the oven. You can also cut up all your vegetables, and cheeses the day before Thanksgiving, which is another great time saver.

Also let’s be clear, cooking does not have to be boring or uneventful. Turn on some music, dance, sing, invite some friends and family members over. Laugh, talk, and most of all enjoy the moment. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to invite your loved ones into the kitchen to help you cook.

Set The Mood

While neutral pumpkins on table spread.
Photo: Instagram @blindseyj

It’s Thanksgiving day! You are almost at the finish line and it looks like you’re in first place. Keep running! The big day has arrived and everyone will join you at the sharing of table and this time around it will be your table. It’s time to set the Thanksgiving mood. Make a grand statement by setting your Thanksgiving table with your finest china and table runner. Your guests will appreciate the ambiance.

Okay! Now you’re ready to host your first Thanksgiving and it’s sure to be a success. Why? Because you have a proper guide from a mother who’s been around the Thanksgiving block more than a few times. Good luck!



Theresa Pittman

About Theresa Pittman

Theresa lives in upstate New York where she works as a youth counselor. She's currently writing a book focused around family values.

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