Sep 29, 2016 / Community

4 Tips to hosting Thanksgiving dinner with ease

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner, is usually the warm-up to the big event – Christmas dinner.

But it seems to me that the whole point of having the entire family over for a big event, is to be able to enjoy it with them. It’s not fun hosting a big family dinner only to be totally run off your feet trying to address the whims of every guest.

Having hosted many of these types of occasions, I learned in short order to make sure the host plays too. And that means: Simplifying and Setting Limits. Just because someone got the great idea to start a marathon family Monopoly game 5-minutes before dinner, doesn’t mean it should happen.

When I plan large family feasts, I like to picture ‘The Order of Good Cheer’, (photo below) the first winter feast of Champlain and his men in Port Royal, Nova Scotia.

Whether I am hosting or not, I love pouring over cooking magazines, when I’m not checking out real estate magazines.

And this month of course, most Canadian magazines are sharing their ideas on prepping for the BIG Thanksgiving dinner. Some ideas were pretty interesting and maybe not so new, others were just plain smart and those are the ones that I’ve listed here. I hope you find them useful.

FOUR hacks or tips for hosting a this years’s Thanksgiving Family
extravaganza with ease and grace.

Make Dessert – Potluck

Best idea for 2016! I’m sorry that I never thought of it earlier.

Not only can the entire family help out but you can easily slip-in store bought goodies with Aunt Martha’s pumpkin pie. If everyone brings a desert and that includes ice cream for the kids, that’s half the meal done. And think of it – absolutely no organizing.

Expanding on the potluck idea, set up a dedicated dessert table in another room complete with dishes, cutlery and extra serviettes (maybe paper). That way you don’t have to clear the main table before the next course.

Have an Emergency Stain Fighter’s Kit On Hand

What a great idea. Talk about being prepared.

When a spill happens and it will, instead of racing around for cleaners or shouting orders, have a spill toolkit ready with salt, wine away, club soda and a couple of rags, strategically placed so that someone can grab it.

More cleaning thoughts.

I never understood the necessity of having a deep clean before guests arrive. Yes, if you are having guests stay overnight, but let’s be honest, if you’re having a hoard of guests for dinner, you’ll probably need to clean afterwards.

De-cluttering and removing valuables and breakables is a must. In fact, I schedule my annual day to de-clutter the hall closet just before big family events. At the same time I make sure there are lots of hangers and extra pairs of inexpensive slippers in case it’s really rainy or dirty and people take off their shoes.

Get those helper’s organized with a list

Give-in to the do-gooders – they want to help. Much as you don’t want help, there are always those that want to be involved rather than visit with family.

So create a to-do list ahead of time to keep them at bay. They can keep tabs on the refreshments, get appetizers ready and anything else that will free you up from being chained to the stove.

KISS.. simplify everything

It’s oh so easy to fall into the trap, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if we didn’t have ……. Trust me, I’ve had plenty of Thanksgiving’s with missing elements and they were wonderful.

If something is really, truly important, then asking someone else to prepare it is the best option. Or, going store-bought – because no one will remember it the following year. Gravy is probably the best example of store-bought goods doing their job.

Who still makes gravy from scratch? It’s easier to experiment with the multitude of different gravy mixes and see what works best for your family. Gravy is one of those items that is judged because it’s been missed, not because it’s from a can.


It’s not always easy for a large family to get together AND all get along. By preparing ahead, simplifying, focusing on the positive and steering clear of hot button issues, you’ll be able to enjoy Thanksgiving with your family.

On behalf of the Karen Paul & Associates real estate team, I’d like to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving long weekend!

Our team of real estate sales professionals is committed to finding you, your dream home. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, the Karen Paul team is here to help with any questions.


Credit to posts by Kitchn, Moore Maguire Real Estate Group, Canadian Living & Chatelaine
Photo credit: ‘The Order of Good Cheer’ Nova Scotia 1606 | by Charles William Jefferys (1942)

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