UPDATED November 14th, 2017
Thanksgiving is a time to host a crowd, but how to do it with ease? It’s not too late for some advance planning and with a little creativity, you can create your family’s most memorable Thanksgiving yet. Just be careful, do too good of a job and you might just find yourself officially in charge of Thanksgiving every year!
MAKE YOUR GUESTS FEEL WELCOMED There’s nothing worse than feeling like an unwanted houseguest. So make your out-of-towners feel welcomed by providing them with plenty of comfort. If you don’t have enough beds and bedrooms, use blow-up mattresses, fluffy pillows and comforters for the sofa, and even camp cots or sleeping bags to simulate a dorm room feel. Kids love sharing rooms, and adults won’t object either if it’s just for a couple of days. Designate spaces to “corral” sleeping supplies during the day, whether it’s a closet or one bedroom. That way, living spaces can be truly that, and mess will be confined, but available.
Read Related: How to Plan a Holiday Party on a Budget
A trip to the “dollar store” can be your best starting point for dealing with a crowd. Buy a basket or a drawstring bag for every guest, and personalize each one. Fill each with the following: a towel set, a new toothbrush and toothpaste, sample size shampoo and lotion, a bag of jellybeans or snack crackers, and perhaps a magazine. Don’t forget small toys for any child. Stock extra supplies in each bath as well, as Pinterest user Jessica Mycoskie illustrates with her fresh towel basket presentation.
Clear out a closet, or a section of space in the laundry room. You could also carve a little space in a back hall for guests to stack their baskets and stash their bags when they’re not using them. Ask your guests to pack light, and try to empty one closet, or at least a large enough section of one so that each person has some hanging space.
START NEW TRADITIONS Start a “thankful board” or have each guest fill out a card to read at dinner about things they’re thankful for. Pinterest.com has some really great ideas.
Family gatherings are a great way to celebrate old traditions and institute new ones. Go informal, and dress in favorite team colors or wear your team’s jersey for the Thanksgiving Day football game. Or how about kicking off the December holiday season at this time? Schedule a family portrait just before dinner is served. Have copies made, and make certain everyone gets one for Christmas.
As an alternate idea, buy Santa hats and pose for a group portrait. Take some serious shots and some silly poses and pick the best one for some photo Christmas cards by Minted. If your town has a Christmas Tree lighting on the Friday after Thanksgiving, plan to go as a group, making soup and turkey sandwiches afterwards. Then watch a favorite holiday movie together.
TURKEY, OF COURSE! Sure, turkey is the main event at Thanksgiving, but this is one meal where you can’t have too many side dishes! Either assign dishes for each group or individual to bring, or let everyone bring a favorite dish. (Just make sure you don’t wind up with duplicates.) Ask for recipes from everyone who supplies a dish, then them into a book and make a copy for everyone. Preparing the perfect turkey may be easy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t seek some advice. If you’ve never roasted a bird, you can find helpful videos at butterball.com.