Thanksgiving is so much more enjoyable when you can host the feast without the stress, so start early and check out our Thanksgiving menu tips below to keep things organized. Once you’ve got a plan in mind, head over to our Thanksgiving dinner menu for some serious inspiration. Here you’ll find everything from family-pleasing appetizers to turkey how-tos and turkey recipes to new and traditional favorites for the Thanksgiving dessert table.
Thanksgiving Menu Planning
Planning and preparation are the two P's that are key to a perfect Thanksgiving. Check out The Countdown page that will help you create a timetable, starting a month out. It includes tips on purchasing the bird, shopping for shelf-stable items, table set-up and decorating, and great make-ahead foods. It will keep your grocery lists smaller and easier to manage - and your mind more organized! - as the holiday approaches.
Preparing the entire meal may seem a little overwhelming. Consider handling the main items (turkey, mashed potatoes and green beans) and ask your guests to bring a side or dessert to round out the meal. You can even suggest a few recipes, such as: Cheesy Stuffed Butternut Squash, Carrot & Parsnip Gratin, Watergate Salad, Cider-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Almonds or Apple-Pecan Cheesecake.
Planning Thanksgiving Dessert
Though many guests offer to bring a dessert, you should have a few of your own Thanksgiving desserts lined up. Some are considered essential to the occasion (pumpkin pie and apple pie come to mind), and you might also include something unexpected (like chocolatey peanut butter pie) or over-the-top awesome. (Four words: Luscious Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake.) Luckily, many are make-ahead desserts. For more ideas, take a look at our Thanksgiving Dessert Tips.
Thanksgiving Table Decorations
Simple garnishes can take your Thanksgiving table from everyday to elegant. Here are a few easy ideas:
Cut lemon slices with a small slit from the center out to the rind and slip onto the side of each water glass.
Create a name plate for each guest's place setting. One simple idea is to pick small bunches of crab apples, then use twine to tie a name plate to each bunch. Set in the center of each plate or just above each plate for a formal seating arrangement.
Fall leaves are not only beautiful, but FREE! Gather leaves in advance and press between waxed paper and books. Once pressed and dried, they make a great addition to centerpieces. Or just lay them randomly down the center of your table for a bit of harvest color.