Katherine @ Pender & Peony
thanksgiving checklist

Hosting Thanksgiving can be stressful.  There's a menu to plan, a turkey to cook, a table to set and decorate, and guests to welcome to your home.  You want everyone to enjoy the tradition and have a wonderful time.  Let this checklist for hosting Thanksgiving take some of the stress out of planning and executing this special holiday.

Confirm Guests

-Check in with guests early this week and make sure arrangements haven’t changed.

-Let your guests help you – ask them to bring something or to fulfill a certain task the day of like mixing cocktails or serving hors d’oeuvres.


Plan Menu and Meal Prep

-Double check your recipes and create two grocery shopping lists for two strategic trips to the store – one for turkey and non-perishable goods and one for perishable foods.

-Keep hors d’oeuvres simple.

-Serve a signature cocktail.

-Make sure you have all the cooking utensils you need.

-Clean and organize refrigerator.

-Do as much food prep and cooking as possible in advance of Thanksgiving Day.

-Don’t forget to thaw the turkey!

Related: Things to keep on hands for parties

Clean and Prep House

-Deep clean main entertaining areas: powder room, dining room, kitchen, and living room.

-Get kids involved.

-Add a beautiful, welcoming wreath or autumn themed decor at your front door.

Design and Execute Tablescape

-Plan your table arrangements, place settings, and serve ware in advance.  Give yourself enough time to polish the silver and wash any special glassware you will use.  Decide which dishes and bowls you will use to serve with and gather those in one place.  Shop for flowers 2-3 days before.

-Plan how your meal will be served.  Decide early whether to do buffet, family style, or plated.  This will dictate your place settings and other table needs.  It can be helpful to lay out your serving dishes and place notes in each, for what they will hold.

Related: Formal table vs. buffet

Related: Entertaining in a small space

Guest Entertainment

-Select a Thanksgiving playlist and make sure a TV for football is available.

-Keep kids occupied – set up a gratitude craft and give your kids a job to do ( answering the door and taking everyone’s coats to designated area or filling glasses with ice – make them feel part of the preparations and learn about hosting).


-Get plenty of rest in days leading up to Thanksgiving and do something relaxing like getting a manicure or massage.

-Keep Thanksgiving Eve and Morning Simple by planning easy meals with minimal cleanup.

-Layout cooking outfit and dinner outfit the night before.

-Set your alarm for an early morning.

Related: 7 rules for a make-ahead Thanksgiving dinner 

Think Through Cleanup

-Plan for Leftovers: Buy inexpensive Tupperware to fill with Thanksgiving leftovers and let guests take food home. Decide how to use leftovers and have ingredients available to cook those the next day.

-Accept help, but wash your own china and crystal, if using.

We hope this checklist to host Thanksgiving will take a little stress out of this special holiday! Happy Thanksgiving!



About The Author

Katherine is an historian by trade who is passionate about art and antiques. By day she manages the treasures of an international auction house and by night she indulges in her love of writing and decorating with her Southern lifestyle blog Pender & Peony. At P&P, Katherine inspires readers to decorate, entertain and navigate the South with grace, charm and gumption.