How to Throw Your First Thanksgiving Dinner Party

Whether it’s your first year at college and you can’t get home for the holiday, or you’ve offered to give your mom a break and have everyone come down to your house for dinner instead, your first Thanksgiving dinner party can be nerve wracking. Getting the right Thanksgiving decorations and making sure you have enough seating is only the tip of the iceberg. But don’t worry, we have the ultimate guide to make sure hosting your first Thanksgiving party goes smoothly.

The Food

The food—the biggest part of the day, the reason everyone has gathered at your pad. There is perhaps nothing more daunting than trying to cook a turkey to perfection, especially if you’ve never done it before. For most of us, our mothers were in charge of the turkey, and if we were lucky, she would let us help stir the stuffing, right before it went into a bowl to be put on the table.

Now that the food is your responsibility, you might feel like you’re drowning. Don’t worry! Putting on a great Thanksgiving dinner is easy if your break the meal down in to separate parts and do as much prep work ahead of time as you can.

For example, pies can be put together days ahead of time and stashed in the fridge or even the freezer until Turkey day. The same goes for mashed potatoes and stuffing. You can make the mashed potatoes and stuffing the day or two before, seal them up in Tupperware, and break them out on the day of the meal. As long as you don’t let anyone see you reheat them (either on the stove or in the microwave), no one will even know that you’ve had the side dishes ready for days.

That leaves just the turkey for Turkey day. Some recipes will have you brining the bird for days beforehand. You don’t have to do anything so elaborate. There are plenty of recipes rolling around the internet that just require you to salt and pepper the old bird and shove her in the oven. Just watch the time. Turkey can get notoriously tough and chewy if it is overcooked.

If you are really scrambling to pull together a Thanksgiving dinner, farm out some of the least desirable tasks to your relatives. If the turkey is really giving you fits, you can always ask Mom and Dad or a friend who’s more familiar with cooking to make it their responsibility. You’ll provide all of the delicious side dishes and host the party, if someone else will be responsible for the bird. We think that’s fair.

If it isn’t the turkey, but all of the other dishes that are worrying you, dole out those tasks to your friends or family, so that they are in charge of showing up with mashed potatoes, rolls, salad, stuffing, pies, etc. There’s nothing wrong with going potluck for the biggest meal of the year.

The Decorations

You don’t want your home and table to be bare, just because you didn’t have time to come up with decorations. Thanksgiving decorations can be as simple as a few hand-traced turkeys adorning the walls, or as elegant as cornucopia and seasonal fruit arranged on the table. If you don’t have time to make your own decoration, check out a party supply store (we know a good one). They will almost certainly have decorations that are somewhere on the scale between kitschy and classic.

If you are really strapped for time, you can always turn decorating into a Turkey Day activity. Your Thanksgiving decorations can be hand tracings, turned into turkeys by your nieces and nephews, paper-link garlands made out of red, yellow, orange, and brown paper, or fall leaves cut from red, yellow, and orange paper and taped to the wall.

Thanksgiving decorations do not have to be complicated and they certainly shouldn’t be expensive. You can even use pretzel sticks and frosting to turn Oreos into little turkeys, which can double as a sweet snack and a decoration.

Again, you can assign a friend or family member to bring decorations, if you aren’t much of a decorator. This is a great assignment for someone who hates to cook, but still wants to be a part of your Thanksgiving Day potluck event. Just make sure they come a little bit early so that the place is already full of Turkey Day spirit when the other guests start arriving.


Having enough seating, especially in an apartment or small home, is one of the major challenges of hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner. If you can borrow a table and chairs from your local church, that might be a good place to look for a free or low-cost seating solution. Alternatively, you could always rent tables and chairs from a party rental store.

For a truly unique Thanksgiving dining experience, you could gather around a coffee table and sit on the floor. You are only limited by the floor space and how much of the food you can crowd on the table. While it might not sound like a fun adventure to some people, it will truly be a unique experience that you and your family will look back on for years to come.


Thanksgiving Day doesn’t necessarily require activities, but most families or friend groups like to do something together while the turkey is cooking. This could range from watching the football game on the tube, to getting outside and playing your own football game. Creating Thanksgiving decorations is another great way to pass the day.

You could also spend the entire day in the kitchen, working together to create all of the delicious dishes you will be eating later in the day.

Don’t let the stress of Thanksgivings past get to you! With a little pre-planning and coordination with your guests, you can have a fun day and a delicious meal, with no stress and no cooking catastrophes.

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Unique Thanksgiving Traditions to Start This Year

Whether this is your first Thanksgiving as a family or you are just looking for some new ways to spice up your Turkey Day celebrations, starting a new tradition can be fun and exciting! Everyone eats Turkey and watches football on Thanksgiving. If you are looking for some unique traditions, ones that your family will love and keep coming back to every year, not just because they are traditions, but because they are actually fun, here are some perfectly unique Thanksgiving traditions. Try a few this year and maybe even avoid the boredom that usually sets in waiting for the turkey to cook.

1. Give out “thank you” awards.

Instead of just pondering on what you’re thankful for, have everyone in the family write down things they love about each other and why they are thankful to be a family (or, if you are celebrating with friends, a friend group). You can even make turkey-themed stationary or pumpkin place card holders for this activity. During dinner, have each person hand out their “thank you” awards to all of the other members of the group and talk about why they are thankful this year.

2. Make a Thankfulness Tank.

This is a project you can conduct all year, every year, which comes to a climax each year on Thanksgiving Day. Set out a jar with some slips of paper or cards and a pen. Throughout the year (or throughout Thanksgiving Day), have people write down what they are thankful for and put it into the jar. They can sign them, or not. A great focus of the Thankfulness Tank would be to write down a personal note to each family member, thanking them for something kind they did during the year. If you leave out the tank for the entire year, try to remember to add to it regularly.

3. A Thanksgiving advent calendar.

Advent calendars are traditionally used for Christmas, but they are just as fun for Thanksgiving. Draw a tree or print one off of the computer, and make enough leaves out of yellow, brown, and red paper to represent the days left until Thanksgiving. On the top, number each leaf, and on the bottom, write a category of something you might be thankful for. For example, you could write “house,” on the bottom of a leaf. On that day, pull the leaf off of the tree and discuss why you are thankful for a warm, safe home.

4. A fall tree of thanks.

This is a great activity for the kids! Make a construction paper tree and stick it to the wall. Then, cut leaves out of red, brown, yellow, and orange paper. Each day leading up to Thanksgiving, have everyone in the family write something that they are thankful for on a leaf and stick it to a tree. Not only does it help to remind you to be grateful, it doubles as a decoration.

5. Thankfulness journal.

This will become a beloved keepsake over the years. Get a nice journal, one that will keep together over years of use. Each year, let each family member or friend who attends Thanksgiving dinner write a note or two about what they are thankful for. While you can read the notes during the meal, it will also be something great to look at throughout the year. This is a great project if you have shy family members or friends who are sheepish about expressing their thanks or receiving it around the table. Plus, it’s a great way to track priorities and to watch your children and friends grow over the years.

6. Give back.

Thanksgiving Day shouldn’t just be about sitting down and eating a huge meal. It can also be about providing service to people who are not as fortunate. Giving service is a great way to show appreciation for what you have. Donating money or food to a food bank is a great place to start, as is volunteering to help with their meals, either cooking or serving. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it is a great way to give back and give thanks for what you have.

7. Roll up some gratitude.

Did you know that you can write notes on parchment paper and roll them into crescent roll dough, baking a note of thanks right into the roll? Once everyone breaks into a roll and pulls out their “thankfulness fortune,” have everyone read what the parchment paper says. For a fun game, after each person reads, have them guess who wrote the note.

8. Decorations of gratitude.

If a construction paper tree, taped to the wall, is not your style, instead, gather branches or buy them from a craft store. Put them in a festive vase and have people hang little paper leaves, tagged with what they’re thankful for, on the branches. Not only will it get everyone in the gratitude mood, it will also look great at the center of the table. As you enjoy the meal, go around the table, pull off a leaf, and read what someone is grateful for.

9. Try a foreign Thanksgiving.

The United States isn’t the only country that celebrates a Thanksgiving-type holiday. Even if your family has been in the States since the First Thanksgiving, look into how other countries give thanks. If you have a strong foreign heritage, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to try something non-traditional, especially if your family is getting tired of turkey and stuffing. If your family hails from Scotland or India or Asia, don’t be afraid to tip your hat to that cultural heritage. After all, isn’t that really what Thanksgiving is about? Celebrating your family and your heritage?

Less clean up and more time for fun!

Thanksgiving is only about a week away and if you’re frantically running around realizing you haven’t quite finished getting everything set, then we are are here to help you with the finishing touches!

Take a step back and think about all the dishes you’ll be washing and scrubbing and how much less time you’ll have to catch up with relatives or friends while taking bites of delicious pumpkin pie and relaxing with a glass of wine.. you want your Thanksgiving to look as fabulous as possible without all the hard work afterwards. We have someone wonderful tableware to help you achieve a “Less clean up and more time for fun” holiday!

For a classy table set up, try our fall elegance pattern or our Thanksgiving sophistication pattern.These patterns include guest towels, beverage and lunch napkins as well as dessert plates and dinner plates. You’ll be able to choose what you need most!

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Give Thanks with These Holiday Decorating Ideas

Country Gifts for ThanksgivingIt’s the little things like hand-written place cards and a splash of unexpected color in your centerpiece to make for a memorable meal during Thanksgiving for your guests. With our collection of fall party decorations you can find plenty of tableware and other accessories to complement your meal and to give your guests plenty to talk about.

Continue Reading Give Thanks with These Holiday Decorating Ideas