How to Host Thanksgiving {And Enjoy It!}

how to host thanksgiving

I think Melanie and I are the only two people in the free world talking about Thanksgiving.  Christmas will  have its turn, but not until after Thanksgiving and Advent.

Hold Your Horses, ‘Merica!


Here are my master plans for the next 9 days, so that when my company gets here, I can convalesce by the fire, drinking lots of lattes and visiting with all of my favorite peeps.

5 things that will make your Thanksgiving weekend more enjoyable:

1.  Give thanks.


Don’t forget that this is the season of intentional gratefulness.  I sometimes have to stop myself in my busy tracks and say thank you. Cup your hands around the faces of your people, look them right in their eyes and say thank you. A little smooch wouldn’t hurt anything either.  We take SO much for granted. Stop and pay attention.  Notice the smell of the pumpkin pie, the way light glistens off your pretty wine glasses, the color of the landscape, as it makes ready for winter.

As my way of saying THANK YOU! for meeting me here all these years, I’m giving my Hospitality E-book away today on my Facebook page! Just like the page and leave a comment with your email address and I’ll be happy to send this small token of my appreciation for all your love and support.  It is jam-packed with tips for making your home and heart ready for guests.

2.  Make a Menu


Here’s mine, in case you want ideas.  I LOVE printing my menus out  and placing one at each table setting, but at least print one out for yourself and keep it in your planner/notebook.

  • Turkey with Sage Stuffing
  • Chive Mashed Potatoes
  • Giblet Gravy
  • Maple Glazed Brussel Sprouts
  • Broccoli Casserole
  • Baked Sweet Potato Bake
  • Creamed Corn
  • Bedeviled Eggs
  • Cranberry Apple Relish
  • Parker House Rolls
  • Tart Cherry Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie with Brandy Cream
  • Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Pie
  • Chocolate Fudge Pie
  • Red Velvet Cake
  • Salted Caramel Lattes

3.  Start NOW!


Here’s my list for how I will (hopefully) get all my food made (for 35 people) and get my house ready for weekend company!  I realize not everyone hosts this many people, but this might help you see how I break down the large job into small doable pieces. And there’s a lot of wine and fudge involved.  That always helps.

Tuesday (the week before)

Wednesday (the week before)

  • Bake a quiche lorraine for next weekend and freeze
  • Finish the guest room beds
  • Bake cherry and pumpkin pies and freeze (recipes coming this week!)

Thursday  (the week before)

  • Clean downstairs bathrooms
  • Clean guest rooms
  • Clean and reorganize the baking center  (full post on the baking center in my e-book, so head over the FB page and get a free copy!)



  • Get out all the linens and sort out how the tables will be set up (all mine will be mix-match)
  • Make blueberry muffins and freeze
  • Make toffee chocolate chip cookies and freeze
  • Clean living room top to bottom
  • Work on name cards
  • Wash all the glassware and plates (the ones not used very often)


  • Rest and read Radical Hospitality (again!).  Pray by name for everyone who is coming
  • Work on menus and place cards (I love the fox cards Emily made and you can print them for free!)
  • Print out the Thanksgiving Litany (10 copies) (I’m still working on the link!)
  • Outdoor scavenger hunt to find pinecones, acorns, driftwood, pretty branches, berries, etc



  • Bake sweet potatoes and refrigerate them as is until Thursday
  • Make the cranberry apple relish
  • Cook potatoes and refrigerate.  Finish them on Thursday
  • Make pizza bianca and modified shrimp boil for dinner (I don’t add corn, but the rest is pretty much the same)(serving 10?)
  • Bake toffee chocolate chip cookies (recipe coming!)
  • Add greenery/finishing touches to the guest spaces
  • Make chocolate fudge pie and freeze
  • Take out pumpkin muffins from freezer for breakfast tomorrow
  • Buy 2 13-15 pound turkeys and one turkey breast
  • Refill the small salt/pepper shakers for the tables


    • Make the Parker House Rolls.  They’re SO good and well worth all the butter and effort.
    •  If turkeys aren’t completely thawed, put in salt water brine
    • Remove the broccoli casserole from freezer to frig.
    • Roast the brussel sprouts and then refrigerate until tomorrow.  Finish cooking with bacon fat and then drizzle with maple syrup and cook another min or two
    • Bake the Thanksgiving cake (I’m still waffling at this point, but I’m thinking red velvet or mocha)
    • Set the tables after dinner (I like to set my tables earlier, but we’ll have company and need to use them)
    • Make the sage stuffing, so that it’s ready to be stuffed in the bird early in the morning
    • Put turkey breast in the crockpot overnight (This is my favorite way to have some extra turkey and a LOT of turkey stock.  You don’t need to do ANYTHING to it, just remove the giblets and cook on low overnight, until it falls apart, which is usually about lunch time!)
    • Take out all the pies to thaw



  •  Stuff the turkey, brush with butter  and put in a covered roaster.  Start at 300 degrees and cook for 3 hours, then decrease to 250.  For a 14 pound bird, at that low temp, I usually cook it for 10 hours, until it’s tender and falling off the bone.  (Stevie also smokes a turkey, but I leave that all up to him!)
  • Take out all casseroles and finish them, finish the potatoes
  • About lunch time, take out the appetizers and champagne spritzers as a treat for all the helpers (we don’t eat until evening)
  • Delegate the drink stations and salted caramel latte prep to the young adults
  • Start the Thanksgiving music (I make a playlist from my favorites—the Avett Brothers, the Civil Wars, the Decemberists, Noah Gundersen,  etc)
  • Finish the brussel sprouts
  • Don’t forget the cranberry relish
  • Make the creamed corn
  • Set out plenty of butter to soften/put on each table
  • Double check the tablescapes, fill the water glasses and light the candles
  • Read the Litany aloud, pray, and FEAST!!

4.  Enjoy the day

Things will go wrong.  You’ll forget to take the pumpkin pie out of the freezer, the mash potatoes will be runny (happened to me last year), the bread will burn, and a million other things will threaten to steal your joy.  DON’T let  it.  This is a celebration of the people that you love.  Enjoy them!  Make eye contact and hug and laugh.  The food, the decorations, the tables are all secondary and must take a back seat.  Take a deep breath, have a glass of wine, relax, and love on your people.

Also? Make your siblings wash the dishes. Amen.


5.  Enjoy the day after

The day after may be my favorite day.  Eating leftovers, sitting by the fireplace enjoying my family, beating twenty-somethings in Scrabble.  I think we should reclaim Black Friday and call it I’m Staying in My Jammies and Eating Leftovers and Knitting Dishcloths Friday.

Happy Feasting!

If you’re new around here?  Thank you for visiting my blog!  I’m honored you’re here and I hope you’ll find some encouragement (and some laughter!) for your days.  Visit my about page, which highlights some of my popular posts or will at least show you a peak into my crazy people.  You can subscribe to this blog by email here.  I am currently addicted to Pinterest, so follow at your own risk.  I also post updates to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


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  • Angela says:

    I’ve been enjoying reading your blog the last few weeks. Found it via Big Mama :) I just liked your FB page and am interested in the Hospitality Ebook. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Tiffany B says:

    Hi Edie, Thanks! I love your relaxed and joyful attitude towards hosting gatherings. I wish I felt that way. Thank you for the Hospitality ebook, I will soak it in! (POSTED ON FACEBOOK) “Also, if you’d like a free copy of my Hospitality ebook, just leave a comment with your email addy and I’ll email it to you!”

  • Faye says:

    Love your blog – so much helpful information and inspiration! Liked on Facebook – thanks for the book! Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Patti says:

    Perfect – I love the planning that makes the day easier – more about friends and family. And i really – really – love your Black Friday. No shopping crazies here – the closest I will get to a store – is hearing on the radio about how full the parking lots are – and then I am THANKFUL I’m at home with my leftovers and a good book!!

    • Patti, planning really does make the day easier so you can focus on your friends and family. Your comment about Black Friday made me laugh. Enjoy your time at home with delicious food and a great book. :) Happy Thanksgiving.



  • Jennifer says:

    Ok, I’ve never wanted to crash someone’s Thanksgiving preparation more than I do this very minute. Iced coffee? Pie? Scrabble? Jammies? Sibling doing the dishes? Oh, what a wonderful world. :) Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  • I love this. We too have around 30 or so for Thanksgiving. I just cannot imagine not having a large crowd. Each year we have some new family members and some have to go other places but it’s wonderfully loud and amazing. I am looking forward to reading your Thanksgiving Litany. Our celebration begins this coming Friday night when my youngest comes home from college. Each day I look forward to your posts. Thank you for sharing your faith and wisdom. God Bless You.

  • Thanks for the offer of your dvs3girls(at)aol(dot)com.


  • linda says:

    Thanks for the schedule! Thanksgiving is at our house this year and thankfully I’m not the only one doing food. But your prep schedule helps a lot. I would love the hospitality book! shaggabear at yahoo dot com

  • Marita says:

    I adore your blog and love what you’ve shared here! Would love the ebook- I’m sure it would come in very handy!

    Wishing you and yours a lovely Thanksgiving!


  • Amen to your black friday plan! As usual, your lists and menus and ideas are admirable. We will spending Thanksgiving in St. Marys, Ga, with family with a menu comparable to yours (mouth is watering already…) And we will spend black Friday getting lost exploring on Cumberland Island. Shopping can wait. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!

  • Im with YOU on *really* celebrating Thanksgiving and not skipping ahead.
    Amazed by your plan. Wowzers.

    Here’s our plane:
    Today: Call Golden Corral to see if they’re open Thanksgiving day
    Next Thursday: Drive to Golden Corral

    (Robert gets a 4 hour pass and for some reason, staying in while I cook him dinner doesn’t hold the same appeal as driving to a buffet.) We just keep rolling with these punches. :)

    Happy T-giving, Homey!

  • Abby says:

    Wow Edie! You are going to be a very organized and busy woman! Love the list and a how to serve 35 people. You amaze me at your gift of hospitality, bless you sweet woman! Oh, I liked your facebook page!

  • Carla Seeley says:

    Love your blog!!

    I would love the hospitality ebook.


  • Gina says:

    Heavens to Betsy, what a list!! I am a list maker/planner too so I’m right there with you. ;) I am not hosting Thanksgiving Dinner though. My daughter and son-in-law will be here for several days so I’ve already made my list. I am like you about baking ahead and freezing…it’s one of the best things we can do! I already have pumpkin bread, cinnamon rolls, red velvet cake, and turtle brownies in my freezer. ;) Your menu sounds fabulous. The brussel sprouts sound especially good. :) I’m gonna check all your recipe links in just a bit. ;) I agree 100% about Black Friday too!! We actually plan to put decorate our Christmas tree and have a simple Christmas that evening since our daughter and son-in-law won’t be here this year. Saturday is all about the college football games!! I’m sure it’s this way in your home too. Love Thanksgiving weekend!! :D

    • Hi Gina, it sounds like we are planning sisters at heart! :) I love baking and freezing ahead, and your list sounds amazing. I can’t wait to hear how you like these brussel sprouts. Have a delightful time decorating your Christmas tree and making memories with your family this weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!



  • rebekah says:

    Edie…I have been reading your blog for awhile now and I am always challenged by you. God uses you often to light a fire under my behind to get up and do what needs to be done…thank you.

    When I read about your get togethers, I honestly wish I could sneak in your home so I could share in the festivities and all the joy that must be permeating your home when you’re all together! Sounds wonderful!

    thanks for giving me good ideas to make our Thanksgiving a special time…and for reminding me to keep love and thanksgiving paramount! Bless you Edie and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Rebekah,

      Thank you so much for your comment and for reading my blog. It blesses my heart to hear what God is doing in your life. I hope that your Thanksgiving is wonderful and that you make many delightful memories with your family and friends. :)



  • Sha says:

    I’m ALL for reclaiming the day after Thanksgiving and telling folks not to take the consumer bait! I would also love a copy of your hospitality book – thank you for sharing!

  • Candi says:

    I wish there was a way to set up Pinterest so that everything you pin automatically pins to my board as well. That would save me a lot of time repinning your pins! :)

    I’m not a good blogger (I can’t imagine strangers wanting to read about my life, like I do others, lol) but I could be a professional pinner! I wonder if that job would fly with my husband?

    Anyway, love your blog. You inspire me to be a better person/Christian/hostess and mother.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving.


  • mandy says:

    Sounds awesome…liked the FB page

  • Meredith says:

    Thanks for the e-book! I missed it when you debuted it earlier.

  • Linda BC says:

    Makes me want to have Thanksgiving again (being Canadian we celebrate in October). I’m the one, between my two sisters, that hosts all the big family dinners, and, although I think I’m organized, you amaze me. I do all MY favourites but sometimes switch it up with a new side dish, new dessert, etc. I am going to have to try all your pie recipes!

    Thank you for all the hints and making holiday dinners not so daunting.

  • Kristen says:

    Hi Edie- this is wonderful! Thank you so much for these beautiful and lovely plans. I am not on Facebook otherwise I would happily “like” your page. If you decide to give out your e-book to us non-face bookers here is my email address: klpeirce at yahoo
    Blessings to you today, Edie!

  • kari says:

    Could you, would you, share your Thanksgiving playlist? I am so thrilled that someone has one! I was thinking this week that I wished I had a Thanksgiving playlist to put us in the spirit instead of skipping over it to Christmas tunes. I’m very thankful for your and this blog! Happy Thanksgiving season!

  • Lauren says:

    Hi Edie! Thank you SO much for this post! I’ve read your hospitality ebook and it has been so helpful to me! I’m looking forward to getting organized for Thanksgiving here… I’m inspired :) I wondered, if you wouldn’t mind – how much water do you put in the crockpot with the turkey breast? I too would totally love your playlist, but that may be asking a lot at this busy time of year! Thank you for being such an encouragement :)

  • Susanne says:

    LOVE your Friday! I rarely leave the house the day after Thanksgiving – - it’s one of the few days a year that I can stay home and truly relax – - it’s an extra vacation day! Once upon another lifetime ago, I hosted the holiday meals – - but not lately, and I have to say, I really miss doing that. Maybe someday, right? Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Cindi says:

    Great ideas. Been working on my list and have my recipes printed out and in my Thanksgiving book. Went to Trader Joe’s today for stuff that will keep and Friday I’ll finish the shopping. We won’t have quite that many…10 or so and no over night guests but still lots to be thankful for and lots of preparation.

  • A dose of Edie is better than espresso and a long run. So motivated right now! xoxo Happy Thanksgiving to you, beautiful woman. Much love from Oklahoma

  • Jean says:

    I love reading your blog. I am worn out reading your countdown to Thanksgiving! I don’t have to cook this year! Would love to read your ebook on hospitality.

  • Joyce says:

    I sent comment earlier but don’t know where…would love to get your ebook. Really love reading your blog. Love to all. Hope it’s a great Thanksgiving!

  • Christina says:

    I loved this! It might be common sense but how do you warm up all the frozen items? How do you do your mashed potatoes, do you cook whole potatoes nd refrigerate? I host Easter for all my extended family and am always stressed. Most of them stay with me and I have 1 oven. I love how you o most of the work in advance.

  • Janene says:

    I’m glad I saw your link tweeted!! I could use the e-book this season:)

  • Ashley says:

    I am going to the store tomorrow to get the ingredients for the pumpkin muffins. Such great planning and organizing. Love it. I would also love a copy of the EBook, but I don’t have a Facebook account. Would you still send it? If so, my email is You are inspiring. Thank you.

  • Rebecca says:

    Amazing! I don’t do Facebook but would love a copy of the ebook if possible. Thank you. radurr(at)hotmail(dot)com.

  • What a list! Makes me glad we’re going to my parents’ home rather than hosting. :) I agree about Black Friday. It makes me sick that so many stores are opening during the day on Thanksgiving this year. I feel sorry for those poor workers!

  • Kari J. says:

    Love your blog, Edie, and all the wonderful inspiration you offer here. I’m one of those few who isn’t on Facebook, but would so very much enjoy a copy of your hospitality e-book, if it isn’t too much trouble. Blessings to you and your precious family this Thanksgiving. BTW, couldn’t agree more with your Friday plans — the shopping can wait.
    Warmest regards —Kari J.

  • KellyinPA says:

    This is just awesome, it’s Thursday so I’m already two days behind:) Would you please do this for Christmas too? Pretty please? I love to have a list to work from, even if it doesn’t all apply to me. Happy Thanksgiving, I’m sure your family will be blessed by all your special touches;)

  • Laura says:

    Just found your page thru Big Mama. I host Thanksgiving every year for 15-20 and need some new ideas and help. It’s an evolving group….I’m an organizing idea junkie.

  • wowie says:

    If you need 36 guests, let me know. Looks fabulous. I am right there with you on being thankful for what have (before we make our Santa lists). And I cannot get over the number of people on Instagram that have full blown Christmas décor already. Makes me want to deck myself in the halls. ;)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Kelli Fox says:

    ahhh thanks for the list – i love having my family over too and hope to enjoy the day to the utmost! I have no idea why i never thought to make stuff ahead of time and freeze them… duh! thanks for everything and i hope you are still sharing the hospitality book :) Enjoy for you Thanksgiving!!!

  • Brenda says:

    Edie, Thanks so much for the Thanksgiving Countdown. We are having lots of family this year, so I’ve been making list after list of to do’s. Your tips are so helpful. I’m not baking quite as much as you – some family bringing dessert! I love your blog!
    Have a great Thanksgiving & take time to enjoy.

  • Sharon P says:

    I’m with you and Melanie in being all for celebrating the season of Thanksgiving before rushing into Christmas mode. I won’t even shop for a single present before Thanksgiving. Thanks for all your wonderful tips today. It helps to see how much can be done ahead of time. Hospitality is not my strong suit so this all helps.

  • Jody says:

    Just found you through big mama. Would love to have your e book!

  • Suzanne says:

    Hi Edie! Thank you for such great planning ideas. I am hosting 30 people and am a little overwhelmed. Your menu sounds delicious, would you have recipes for the carrots & Brocc. casserole ? Thanks so much!

  • Erin Shanks says:

    I’m so inspired! Can’t wait till next year to host, but I hope to use the table top inspiration at my in – laws. Great post as always!

  • Edwina says:

    Oh, I’d love your ebook-thanks for all the inspiration and comfort you provide!

  • Lindsay says:

    Hi Edie, I think you are just the best and you are such an inspiration of the kind of wife, mom and homemaker that I want to be! Having a young family and a tight budget can be overwhelming but you remind me just to plan ahead, get busy and love them well. Thank you for all of the recipes and ideas!!

  • Just found your blog and love, love this post. We’re having our kids come home for Thanksgiving and I’m making list pretty similar to yours (but for a lot less people!!). I especially appreciate your suggestions to pray for each person coming by name. Hopeful that you’ll have a fine Thanksgiving ahead. God bless…

  • tara lowry says:

    you and melanie aren’t the only ones…i haven’t done a single thing.
    i can’t ever let myself really think about it until after i’ve paid honor to thanksgiving and the turkey.

  • Sarah says:

    Thanks for this Edie! The day after is my favorite day. I might even like the leftovers better :) I would love a copy of your eBook!

  • Barbara says:

    Rats–wouldn’t you know I’m one of the last people on earth that don’t have a FB acct. Any other way to get the Ebook?

  • Jill says:

    Edie – you are so inspiring!!! Honestly, you’ve become a household name here! Love you!!!!

  • You don’t have small children, do you? Please say you don’t. Otherwise, I will feel very lazy and unambitious. ;)

  • Gabby says:

    This was a super helpful post for me. I like to plan out my work and spread over the course of a few days too! Question about the Parker rolls. You’ve inspired me to try them out this year. Do you freeze them after shaping them and then thaw &
    bake them off fresh Thanksgiving day?

  • Lisa Stevens says:

    I usually start preparing for Thanksgiving 3 weeks before. I do almost all the cooking the day before.
    Edie, I just love your style and grace. I have been reading along for several weeks. Thank you for sharing your life and letting Christ shine through you.

  • This list is right up my alley! And I agree with you about re-branding the Friday after! We do the same thing here. On years when I’m at my mom’s house, we decorate for Christmas and order in Chinese.

  • Mott says:

    I am just now reading your post. I’ve been playing catch-up over the weekend. I spent last week with my 87-year-old daddy whose health is declining rapidly. I am going back tomorrow to get started on preparing Thanksgiving for my sisters and their families which includes grandchildren and great-grandchildren! I’m the only one who learned how to make dressing like Mama and she passed away in May, 2011. I am printing out your letters as a reminder for all of our family and sure wish I was ahead of the game but all I’ve done is bought the turkey. I, too, would really appreciate a copy of your ebook if you’re still offering it at this late date. Blessings on you and your precious family! God is good all the time!

  • lesley mcquade says:

    this is fab ! I can’t imagine what else is in the ebook !
    Love the black friday idea, i’ll be avoiding the shopping madness and eating turkey soup and leftovers ..
    even though we are Scots living in Texas we get together with fellow Scots with no family here and celebrate together,
    thanks and Happy Thanksgiving

  • Tiffany says:

    Would love a copy of your ebook. Thank YOU!

  • Your Thanksgiving posts are getting me so excited for hosting my family’s dinner Thursday and my husband’s on Friday!! I found the artists you recommended on Pandora so I will be playing that in the background. Loved the e-book by the way!!! :)

  • Phyllis says:

    Am in awe of this planning and hospitality. Is it too late to get the e-book? Have loved exploring this blog today via big mama’s site.

  • Kristy says:

    I found this link on The Art of Simple (from the last weekend – I’m catching up a little) and clicked over because I’m hosting Christmas dinner for my family this year. I hosted Thanksgiving last year, and I let last-minute prep work and anxiety from others steal my joy. This year will be different! I love that you included both practical tips (making a menu and starting now) and remembering that things will go wrong, and it’s still okay. Looking forward to reading your ebook!

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