Thanksgiving is a time for family get-togethers and hearty food. But if you’re the one hosting your entire family then you might end up being stuck in the kitchen all day (and all night) versus actually spending time with everyone. From planning the meal to cooking, serving and hosting—there’s so much to do. And that’s not even taking into account the clean-up before and after the party. 

Take the stress out of it! There will always be more to do but it doesn’t mean you have to be the one doing it. Delegating tasks allows everyone to feel included and it helps to take some of the pressure off of you. And that’s just one way to dial it down. Keep reading for more Thanksgiving hacks that will make the holiday evening memorable and fun for everyone—including the host!

12 Thanksgiving hacks for the host/hostess

  1. Plan and prepare in advance: Create a plan in the weeks leading up to the big day. Note things like: what’s on the menu, shopping list and a timeline for each dish. 
  2. Delegate: Teamwork makes the dreamwork. Don’t be shy about asking guests to bring specific dishes or help out with certain tasks. Hosting Thanksgiving does NOT mean you have to make everything on your own. Who said you can’t have a potluck? Assign desserts or side dishes to family and friends. You can even ask who is willing or able to come early to help set-up. 
  3. Set the table in advance: You don’t want to be scrambling in the last few minutes. Set the table as early as possible—even if that means a few days before. If you’re assigning seats (or using your kids’ cute Thanksgiving coloring sheets as placeholders) set those in early. 
  4. Crockpot and Instant Pot dishes: Slowcookers and Instant Pots are your best friends when it comes to hosting a huge gathering. Use them for mashed potatoes, stuffing and so much more. You can even keep a batch of hot cider on low for the night. 
  5. Prep ingredients in advance: One to two days before the big day, spend some time chopping vegetables, making pie crusts or simply measuring out ingredients. Even small tasks can take up a lot of time when you’re feeling stressed. Just beware not to chop anything that browns quickly! 
  6. Label dishes and set out ingredients: Set out all of your ingredients and separate them by dish—this helps cut down the time you’ll spend looking for everything. You can even use sticky notes on dishes to see which dish will be used for each recipe. If you have helpers in the kitchen, they won’t have to ask about everything (every five seconds). 
  7. Self-serve drink station: Set up a self-serve drink station with a variety of options for your guests. This way you won’t have to worry about refilling anyone’s glass. 
  8. Cook turkey parts separately: Instead of roasting a whole turkey try cooking parts separately for one of the best Thanksgiving hacks. When it’s time to carve, every piece will be thoroughly cooked and ready to serve. 
  9. Use make-ahead recipes: Choose menu items based on what can be made ahead of time. This will lessen the amount of dishes you make on the day of which means it’ll make the whole day a lot smoother. Think: casseroles and pies you can freeze or tuck in the fridge the night before. 
  10. Create a kids’ table: Set up a designated space for kids activities. Download free, printable Thanksgiving coloring sheets, blank paper, crayons or board games. It’ll keep the kids engaged and give the adults uninterrupted time. 
  11. To-go containers: No one wants to be stuck with a heaping mound of leftovers. Have to-go containers ready for your guests to fill and take home. 
  12. Use dishwasher-safe dishes: Cut down on your clean-up time by using dishwasher-safe serveware. At the end of the night, load up the dishwasher. 

The fall holidays are a wonderful time full of joy. But it can be hard to revel in the good times when you’re so tired from putting it all together. We hope these Thanksgiving hacks help make your holiday more enjoyable for you, your family and your guests.