Thanksgiving Planning Guide

    Why hello, Thanksgiving dinner hosts! Let me ask you something: do you remember a Thanksgiving feast that wasn’t as exhausting and stressful as it was delicious? No? Well then get ready for a change this year, because the EventUp team has something to deliver to you! No, not a ready-made turkey, but some tips and tricks for hosting the holiday with the entire spectacle - but far more simply. Trust us, it’s something you’ll be thankful for!

    Finalize guest list:

    Make sure you know how many guests you're going to have over, and that they all know what time they should arrive at your house. Send out a quick e-mail or text message. This will help you set up your seating, and you'll know how much food you will need to buy and prepare for your guests. 

    Select your menu:

    Once you have an idea of how small or larger your party is going to be, select the final menu that you want to serve. Print each recipe out so you have it handy while you are cooking versus looking through your phone trying to remember where you saw the recipe and swiping between recipes. On the top of each printed recipe, I also write out how long it takes for the item to cook. That way you can easily work backward from the time you planned on eating, to when you need to start prepping and cooking.

    Make a list of everything that you need to do:

    Lists are a great way to stay organized, especially if you are planning your event last minute. Before you start preparing your feast, make a Thanksgiving feast checklist. Organize your list into different sections such as cleaning, cooking, shopping, and decorating. As you plan, you can assign items to family members and cross off everything that you've done to stay organized.

    Instead of taking all your recipes to the grocery store with you, write a grocery list of all items you will need, and the quantity. That way while you’re at the store, you're not over buying or under buying any item that you need. Any non-perishables, I stock up on weeks ahead of time to cut down on how long I need to be in the store with the crowds.

    Break It Up and Get a Break:

    For those of us in charge of the cooking, the third Thursday in November is an awfully long day with too many waking hours (and for the brave few who forge on to early Friday morning shopping, sleep is even harder to come by). We’re up before the sun, mixing and basting noiselessly, preparing every morsel for our horde of sleeping loved ones. Have we ever stopped to wonder why? Who said we had to prepare the whole feast in a few hours or even prepare the whole thing ourselves?

    This year, don’t be afraid to take your time. Remember, Thanksgiving is about enjoying the blessings you have, and that includes your family and friends. So take a beat and actually enjoy their company, instead of spending time cooped up in the kitchen. One way to buy yourself some time is to break up the Thanksgiving cooking into smaller time segments that are easier to digest (pardon the pun).

    You can start as early as a few weeks before, making items such as pies, cranberry sauce, homemade rolls, and cubed bread for stuffing can all be made weeks in advance. Let your food cool completely, store in an airtight container. Don’t forget to take them out of the freezer the night before to thaw and simply re-heat before dinner. 

    The night before, prep all of your food. Get the bird washed, dressed, and in the pan with all of the seasonings on it. Let the bird rest overnight in the fridge. Peel and cut all of your vegetables. You can even peel and cut your potatoes, store them overnight in the pot you will cook them in (covered in water already so they don’t turn brown). Get as much of the prep done as you can the night before, load the dishwasher, and clean up the kitchen. 

    With most of the prep work done, you don’t have to wake up before the birds to get your bird in the oven. Based on cooking times, take your prepped meals out of the fridge to allow them to warm up to room temperature, then you can toss them on the stove and cook. Prepping weeks, and days before the big day only makes the day of that much easier - instead of prepping and cooking, you just have to cook. Once the stress of cooking is diminished, don’t forget to pour yourself a drink and settle in with your lovely family.

    Make the Most of Nature:

    From October on, it seems like every home you enter is in a state of impressive decoration. The holidays mean decking our halls, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose your mind finding the perfect cornucopia. Take a lesson from the beautiful fall weather around you, and remember that less is more. For your table, stick to warm autumn colors and even incorporate some natural elements such as pine cones, leaves, and twigs from your yard, for a fun fall look that is sure to impress. But do your best to keep the table as clean as possible – you’ll want there to be room for all the magnificent food you’ve prepared!

    Let someone else do the cooking:

    Given the current climate, more restaurants are offering Thanksgiving Dinner Catering. Restaurants are looking for ways to bring in revenue with so many restrictions they have to adhere to when inviting guests into their venue. But that opens up options for you, you could pre-order an entire meal or just order sides and desserts while still cooking the bird yourself. Browse the restaurants on VENUES by Tripleseat and EventUp to find your local restaurants. 


    Thanksgiving is one of America’s favorite holidays and it’s a perfect time for family and friends to come together.  This year will most likely look a bit different in everyone’s household, so adding for some extra special decor and appetizers makes everything a bit happier. Looking for a little help to plan out the whole day? Check out the 5 Thanksgiving Appetizer Recipes or read our 5 Easy Thanksgiving Centerpieces.

    What are your secrets for a successful Thanksgiving? Any horror stories you’d like to share? Visit our Facebook and Twitter pages, or leave a comment below!   


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    Author: Nicole Catatao