How to Host Thanksgiving for the First Time This Year

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Thanksgiving (and the rest of the fall and winter holidays!) will be here before we can can pack away our Halloween costumes.

Last year, Joseph and I hosted a miniature Thanksgiving dinner. But this year, we’re hosting a bigger Thanksgiving dinner the weekend after Thanksgiving.

I used to think hosting big holiday dinners was an intimidating process, but in the past few years full of dinner parties and good community, I’ve found that I really enjoy hosting house parties all throughout the year.

I’ve learned a few things from past Thanksgivings, and I’ve learned a lot from years of family Thanksgivings. Here are my four tips for hosting a Thanksgiving gathering that you can enjoy and remember fondly!

1. Reject perfectionism

The turkey may burn. The potatoes may not want to be mashed. You may miss the annual dog show (where the poodle will win, again) because you’ve lost track of time in the kitchen. It’s not going to be a perfect day - and that’s okay.

Instead of aiming for a Pinterest-perfect or Instagram-worthy Thanksgiving day, pour into those around you and enjoy their presence in your life. Maybe you’re hosting a friends-giving since family is far away, or maybe you, like us, are opening up the house to all the family members. Regardless of what your Thanksgiving looks like, enjoy the messes and the smiles all together.

2. Three words: Crock pot turkey

Last year, Joseph and I borrowed my parents huge crock pot (you need big kitchen utensils when you have ten people in your family!) and made our cranberry orange turkey in the crockpot. We piled all the ingredients in the crock pot, slapped the lid on that bad boy, and walked away and forgot about it - that’s what crock pots are for, after all!

Maybe it’s not a crock pot turkey for you this Thanksgiving, but make as much food as you can before hand, or choose recipes that you can walk away from without worrying about. Your pies, casseroles, and sauces can be made days in advance and thrown in the freezer.

You don’t have to stress out during the last minutes before the Thanksgiving dinner. This year, don’t run around like a chicken, er, turkey, with its head cut off. Intentionally avoid as much stress as you can by prepping some things before hand.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Maybe the kitchen is not your favorite place to be in the house, or you’d rather do anything else in the world but cook a whole turkey.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help in the process of hosting Thanksgiving. Maybe you’ll ask your best friend to cover desserts, or come early to set up the table. Perhaps you’ll make a run to the grocery store and make a pre-made Thanksgiving dinner because you know that spending all day in the kitchen will take you away from friends and family.

We all have our strengths and gifts, and just because you’re hosting doesn’t mean you have to take the entire holiday on your shoulders. Instead, plan a Thanksgiving day that allows you opportunities to thank those gathered around your table for their unique gifts!

4. Take a deep breath and enjoy yourself

Why should families and friends gather together every Thanksgiving? To enjoy each other’s company and be thankful for all the things that God has blessed them with the year before. They don’t come to your house to be entertained, they come to celebrate with you.

Find things to be grateful for even in the preparation and busy rush of the day. Maybe it’s the way your grandpa helps take care of the dishes after dinner, or how your cousins leave you crying with laughter about inside family jokes. That’s what today is about, and those are the things you’re going to remember.