7 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner

Written by | Updated November 18, 2015


As much as we love a day dedicated to giving thanks and spending time with family, Thanksgiving can be the most hectic holiday of the year. The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest day for travel, and Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires. Whether you’re hosting for four or 14, follow these seven tips for a safe and successful Thanksgiving dinner.

1. Plan in Advance

Avoid unnecessary stress by planning your menu several weeks in advance. Grocery stores frequently run out of Thanksgiving essentials, such as potatoes, cranberries, turkey, and vegetables, so shop for your grocery items at least a week before the big day. When in doubt, purchase extra packages of butter, rolls, eggs, and other basics to make sure you don’t run out.

Better Homes & Gardens provides a menu planner tool to help you decide and plan a delicious holiday menu.

plan the perfect thanksgiving menu

2. Cook Like a Gourmet with the Epicurious Recipes App

The Epicurious Recipes app can help you take potatoes and turkey to the next level and impress your guests with your cooking skills. This app has a section devoted to Thanksgiving recipes sourced from Bon Appétit and Gourmet magazines. Particularly unique compared to most recipe apps and websites, Epicurious shares how to host your very own French-inspired Thanksgiving meal, from a chestnut soup appetizer to a caramel and chocolate ganache for dessert.

Tips to deep-fry a turkey without burning down your house

3. Don’t Cook Everything the Same Day

While you won’t want to cook certain recipes, such as the turkey, until the day of, you can cook other items in advance. Make and refrigerate gravy, dressings, soups, dips, and spreads up to one week before Thanksgiving. Reserve the day before Thanksgiving for making the desserts and prepping ingredients for the following day.

Wisely cook thanksgiving dinner

4. Create a Beautiful and Safe Ambience

Candles add the perfect ambience to a family dinner, but they can also cause a fire if you’re not careful. Keep candles out of reach from children, and never leave them lit in an unattended room. If you’re worried about a potential fire, try flameless candles, which produce a similar glowing effect without the safety concerns.

safely burn candles on thanksgiving

5. Go All Out with Decorations

From Thanksgiving centerpieces to garlands and wreaths, the best way to infuse cheer and holiday spirit into your meal is to decorate your home. Get inspiration online from HGTV, or take a trip to your local craft and hobby store for supplies.

HGTV tablesetting idea
Image: HGTV Fan chasingpaige

6. Never Overcook a Dish with KitchenPad Timer

A single oven timer won’t cut it when you’re cooking a several-course meal. The KitchenPad Timer app allows you to run multiple timers at once. Customize each alarm with a different sound so you immediately know when the potatoes, rolls, and turkey are ready to serve.

use kitchen pad to help you cook thanksgiving dinner

7. Have a Backup Plan

Things rarely go according to plan. A dish may not turn out like the picture or you may run out of time to bake the apple pie. Always have a backup plan in place. Order pies from a local bakery or keep a pre-made pie crust in the refrigerator. Store a few boxes of stuffing and cans of cranberry sauce in case you can’t make your homemade recipe. While we’d all like to make everything from scratch, it’s difficult to get everything done in time without help and a few shortcuts.

And if you end up at a Chinese restaurant, at least you’re all together.


With the right preparation and the assistance of technology, you can host the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, even if your name isn’t Martha Stewart. Remember, this is a day to give thanks and spend time with family. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef or interior decorator to have a memorable and delicious dinner with your loved ones.

Written by Paige Sjoblom

Paige is a resident safety and security expert for SafeWise covering a variety of topics to keep your family safe. In her free time, you'll find her relaxing with yoga, enjoying a cup of coffee, or exploring outside. Learn more

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