Thanksgiving Hacks, Tips & Tricks to Make Entertaining Easier

While I am firmly #TeamChristmas, I can totally appreciate Thanksgiving. Togetherness, gratitude, STUFFING! What’s not to love?

There’s a lot of prep work that goes into the big feast, so today I’m sharing five easy tips to make hosting Thanksgiving (or any other party) easier and more meaningful!

1. Use a kraft paper table runner.

I started using kraft paper for minor holidays to make a last second festive decoration on our table, and kept coming back to it because kids love it! You can draw on it yourself, write out a whimsical seating chart, or lay out a spread for your kids to munch on straight off the table – no need for plates. My favorite is to give the kids crayons, markers, and stickers and ask them to decorate the runner before dinner. This gives them something to keep busy while I put the finishing touches on the meal and the grown ups have some time to chat. The kids feel super proud once they show off their final product. The best part: once you’re done, you can roll it up and toss it into the recycling!

2. Take your gratitude list a step further with thank you notes.

I know so many families have a tradition that fosters gratitude. Going around the table and sharing what you are thankful for, adding leaves to a gratitude tree, but we especially love writing thank you notes. I think it’s important to show kids (and remind ourselves) not just to FEEL gratitude but to outwardly express it. We start by writing a gratitude list as a family, and then choosing a few people to send notes to in the mail throughout the month. Plus, everyone loves getting mail – you’re sure to make the recipient smile.

3. Order groceries online.

In many ways, I’m old school. It took me years to convert from a paper agenda to using an online calendar, and even longer for me to order groceries online. After taking on more work projects and my girls being increasingly busy, I had to cut out some unnecessary tasks, and grocery shopping was one of them. Enter, online ordering. I’ve used InstaCart before, but I also like to use Walmart Grocery ordering. Most services allow you to schedule a pickup time for free or have groceries delivered to your door for a small fee. For $10 off your first online grocery order at Walmart, click here.

4. Say ‘Yes’ to help with a dinner party checklist.

Sometimes the biggest roadblock to accepting help is knowing what to ask for help with, especially in the middle of a busy day of food prep. I keep a dinner prep checklist handy with easy tasks that anyone can do – filling water glasses, lighting candles, restocking toilet paper in the bathrooms – so that I can hand off a few tasks to early guests or family members who want to help. I’ll include a free printable for you to use for your own dinner party checklist – put it in a page protector and post on the side of your fridge to have it at the ready.

5. Set your table in advance & label your serving dishes.

This is a LIFESAVER, I tell you! You’ll be forced to get all of your seldom-used serving dishes and utensils out, cleaned, and ready to be used – no last minute scrambling to find a platter big enough for turkey.

Plus, when you mark out space for everything, you won’t have to shove plates and water glasses out of the way to put a casserole on the table. The Type-A hostess in me finds this to be so satisfying: you can even plan out the color of your spread to make it -ahem- visually appealing. If a dish is baked in the same vessel it will be served in, just put a post it on the table to reserve some real estate for it.

I hope you have the best Thanksgiving with your family & friends and use these tips the next time you entertain!

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