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9 Clever Tips for Hosting the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever

Looking for ways to organize yourself to host Thanksgiving? Here are 9 simple tips to hosting the best Thanksgiving dinner ever. Not hosting this year? Check out my Thanksgiving hostess gift ideas at the end of this post.

Do you host Thanksgiving dinner? It is my favorite holiday and we host it every year.

We get together with our large extended family and have the best time. It’s a great opportunity to re-connect and catch up with one another.

But the other reason it’s my favorite holiday of the year is that my birthday typically falls on or around Thanksgiving.

So we have even more to celebrate!

Before we renovated our home 15 years ago and moved, it was tough to host everyone here for Thanksgiving.

Because we just didn’t have the space!

We used to only host my side of the family, which is pretty small.

Once we renovated, we were able to include my husband’s side of the family.

And he’s the 6 of 7 kids.

So I’m sure you can imagine how big the holidays are around here.

Since renovating, we typically host our family of about 20-30 people.

The numbers go up and down but in general, between kids and adults, we range from 20-30 people.

So it’s a pretty big event! And I’m always looking for ways to seat more guests around the dinner table, decorate, and recipes to serve.

But as a hostess, I’ve got the day down pat.

Here are my best tips to hosting the best Thanksgiving dinner ever.

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Set the Stage for a Cozy Thanksgiving Dinner

Before we get to hosting the big day, it’s important to decorate and create a cozy, welcoming atmosphere for guests.

Create a Festive and Welcoming Front Entry for Thanksgiving

Before we even talk about hosting, I can’t stress enough how important it is to create a cozy, festive and welcoming entry.

Because first impressions are everything!

While you don’t have to go crazy, even a few pumpkins and flowers go a long way.

But I’m a more the merrier kind of gal when it comes to decorating the front porch for fall, so when you drop by my house, there will always be an abundance of flowers, plants, and festive seasonal decor.

Fall Front Porch Idea for Hosting the Best Thanksgiving Dinner

Where the front porch or entry is concerned, add some pumpkins, chrysanthemums, or other fall flowers to add a cozy touch when guests arrive.

And because it’s the end of the season, you can get leftover pumpkins and flowers for a steal!

So if you are looking for a bargain with late fall decor for Thanksgiving, hold out until after Halloween.

Easy Fall Centerpiece Idea

Making Room at the Thanksgiving Dinner Table

We enjoy a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner every year.

But how do we do it with such a large crowd?

It’s all about the table configuration. And I like a configuration that fosters conversation with the whole group. Not just with the people sitting across or next to you.

Now my dining room is not the largest, but we figured out a way to extend our dining table to make extra seating without using folding tables.

Aren’t those table annoying sometimes? They are all different heights, awkward and unstable.

A few years ago we addressed this very problem so we could seat more guests at our dining table without using folding tables.

And we love the result!

You can check out here how we made a DIY dining table topper for extra seating.

Simple Fall Table Decor and Thanksgiving Food Ideas for the dining table with a warm autumn color palette using black china cabinet and hutch, farmhouse table, vintage toolbox dining table centerpiece and farmhouse table

Simple Fall Table Decor Ideas

Our Thanksgiving table decor looks different each year. One year, I decorated with more traditional autumnal colors. Another time, I decorated the dining table with soft neutrals.

And if you notice, I use a lot of the same decor items but in different ways.

Last year, I mixed winter and fall decor together and it looked so cool! That might’ve been my favorite table.

9 Simple Tips to Hosting The Best Thanksgiving Dinner

This year, I’m playing around with a few ideas.

I’m not sure if I’ll go with this organic, neutral fall table decor or this beautiful fall table setting idea.

But whatever route I choose to go, there must be a beautiful centerpiece included.

It could be a fresh centerpiece filled with mums and pumpkins.

Or maybe it’s made with fresh cut flowers from the garden or market.

9 Simple Tips to Hostin the Best Thanksgiving Ever

But sometimes faux is the way to go, like this rustic fall centerpiece idea for the dining table.

It’s really easy to make!

But if you are looking for something super simple, you might already have most of these on hand for this easy fall centerpiece idea.

This year, I’m focusing on a warm autumn color palette for my Thanksgiving table.

I shared some beautiful fall table decor ideas and some Thanksgiving food ideas as well.

Oh and here are a few Thanksgiving centerpieces that you’ve got to check out in the video below.

9 Simple Tips for Hosting the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever

Whether you’ve never hosted Thanksgiving before or you are a pro, there’s lots of ways to streamline the big day to make things easier for you.

Follow these simple tips for a stress-free Thanksgiving Dinner.

  • Plan ahead of time and don’t be shy asking for help. If you have a lot of guests, divvy up the dishes. Ask guests to contribute a dish to lighten the load. Just because you are hosting doesn’t mean you have to cook the whole darn thing!
  • Determine how many guests are attending and create a dinner table configuration that fosters conversation with everyone. We re-configure our farmhouse dining table to be a square shape so guests can all see and talk to each other.
  • Make or buy a beautiful centerpiece. If using a live centerpiece, create or buy it a day or two before the event. If using a faux centerpiece for the dining table, create it as early as possible to save yourself time and energy well before Thanksgiving.
fresh flowers and heirloom pumpkin centerpiece idea for the dining table with zinnias, dahlias, sedum autumn joy, ivy, celosia and boxwood
  • Determine what dishes you are making, then make a grocery shopping list.
  • If making more than one dish, prioritize the ones that can be made ahead of time and ones that need to be made on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Get beverages for adults and children a few days before. These don’t go bad, so pick up beverages early Thanksgiving week or sooner!
  • Set the table with fall table decor the day before. Be creative and use lots of layers. The more layers, the cozier and more welcoming the table feels.
  • Prepare make ahead dishes the day before to make things easier on Thanksgiving Day.
Easy Fall Table Decor Ideas for the Thanksgiving Dinner
  • Make place cards for each guest. These can be simple or elaborate. Do what you have time for.
  • When you are enjoying the meal, go around the table and give each guest the floor to say what they are thankful for. This has always been the best part of our Thanksgiving dinner. Our entire family enjoys this the most from grandparents to grandbabies. It’s a heartwarming touch to hosting the best thanksgiving dinner. And you won’t believe the things you learn!
9 Simple Tips to Hosting the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever

Want to Learn What You Need to Set a Beautiful Thanksgiving Table?

Click here to get my FREE GUIDE that tells you everything you need to set a gorgeous table!

Welcome friends and family to a cozy dining table with this must-have list of tabletop decor that you’ll use over and over again.

Fresh flower arrangement for fall harvest table in outoor dining space with hydrangeas, zinnias and dahlias -This flower arrangement was made from my cut flower garden with hydrangeas, zinnias and dahlias. .how to set a cozy fall harvest table
Fall Harvest Centerpiece

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Not sure how to organize Thanksgiving Dinner?

Here is a list of Thanksgiving dinner menu items to get you started.

  • Turkey
  • Stuffing
  • Gravy
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Vegetable Sides
  • Salad
  • Charcuterie or other light apps
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Pecan Pie
  • Apple Pie

If you are looking for great Thanksgiving food menu ideas.

vintage farmhouse dining room in fall with crystal chandelier, french country table and chairs with pumpkin centerpiece.

Host Gifts for Thanksgiving

Not hosting this year?

Here are some great Thanksgiving hostess gift ideas.

I hope you found some great Thanksgiving dinner inspiration and hostess gift ideas. We are looking forward to reconnecting and spending time with our family this year.

I am thankful that my girls will be home from college and we’ll have the whole family back under one roof.

Each day is a blessing.

What are you thankful for this year?

From our family to yours, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Our family at Thanksgiving Dinner

More Thanksgiving Ideas

If you are looking for more Thanksgiving Day ideas and inspiration, check out these posts.

From hosting gifts to table decor, food, and menu ideas, I’ve got you covered.

fresh pumpkin centerpiece idea for the dining table with garden mums that is perfect for your Thanksgiving Aesthetic using fresh pumpkins and garden mums on a farmhouse table with neutral table decorations, cedar branch placemat, dinnerware and tapered candles on brass candlestick holders

Looking for Fall Decorating Ideas

Looking for more fall decorating ideas? Check out these posts.

Family room in fall in vintage farmhouse with boho decor. Mango wood round table, gourds, candles, pumpkins and plants with cozy throw pillows and blankets.

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9 Simple Tips to Hosting the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever
9 Simple Tips to Hosting the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever
9 Simple Tips to Hosting the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever
Easy Fall Table Decor Ideas
Centerpiece Ideas for Hosting the Best Thanksgiving Dinner

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  1. These are such great ideas Stacy, thank you for sharing them. I love the tip about planning ahead…I am going to work on that one! Loved the picture of your big family who gathered at your home.

    1. Thank you Kim! Hosting Thanksgiving is literally my favorite thing! I love having everyone over and hope we are able to do it again this year…fingers crossed! xoxoxox

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  4. Stacy, Oh my! So much good stuff here! I love, love, love the table topper and drop cloth. Just brilliant. And there are so many ideas for centerpieces. We plan to have a big crowd this year, but up at our cabin which isn’t nearly as equipped as our home. So lots of planning ahead of time and I’ll tap into all your expertise. Thanks for sharing!

  5. So many amazing ideas for Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing Stacy! Will you still be hosting that many in your new home this year? Pinned!

    1. Thank you! Yes and probably a few extras! I’m excited for this year’s holiday – it will be fun hosting here at the new house!