Help for First Time Holiday Hosts 

Photo taken in Vancouver, Canada.
Photo taken in Vancouver, Canada.

Hosting Thanksgiving is a large undertaking that can put some hosts under pressure. Unlike some other holidays that are less food-focused, Thanksgiving is largely about the meal. Turkey is the centerpiece of the celebration, and any guests who come over are going to expect turkey and a number of side dishes. Leaving hungry is never an option on Thanksgiving. 

Individuals who are new to Thanksgiving hosting may be at a loss as to where to start with their preparation. There are certain must-haves hosts should familiarize themselves with. Many of these essentials revolve around tools for cooking in the kitchen and serving guests. 

Large roasting pan You’ll need somewhere to oven-roast the turkey. While it’s perfectly acceptable to purchase a disposable aluminum pan for this purpose, if you plan to host Thanksgiving year after year, investing in a quality roasting pan will help deliver even cooking temperatures to the food and also can be used for roasting other meats. 

Wire rack The turkey is placed upon a rack inside of the roasting pan so that it will not swim in the juices and cause a soggy bottom during cooking. Many roasting pans and racks are sold as sets, but others can be purchased separately. The rack can be used for other purposes as well, including cooling baked cookies or even drying out fresh herbs. 

Food thermometer Ensuring the turkey and other foods are cooked to the correct internal temperature is essential. You do not want to send guests home with foodborne illnesses. Food thermometers run the gamut from very basic to those that can be programmed to alert cooks through an app on a smartphone. Turkey is done when the temperature reads 170 F in the breast and 180 F in the thigh. If stuffed, the stuffing should register 165 F, according to Butterball. 

Coordinated casserole dishes Casserole dishes can hold all of the sides served with the turkey, including stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, and more. A set of matching dishes will help the tablescape look more coordinated. 

Service for eight or more Thanksgiving draws a crowd, so take inventory of silverware, dishes, wine glasses, and any other table needs to ensure that you can accommodate all of the guests. Purchase new items if you cannot set the table completely with what you have, as mixed and matched may be okay for informal events but may not set the tone hosts are aiming for on Thanksgiving. 

Table and chairs Determine if you have enough table space to seat all of your guests. Some dining tables come with an extension leaf, but you still may need to supplement with a folding table. You may need more seating. Chairs can be rented or you can utilize some folding chairs.  

Turkey serving platter When the turkey is ready, it can be placed on an attractive serving platter for your photos, after which you slice and then return the sliced poultry to the serving platter for dining. 

Thanksgiving requires a number of essentials that hosts will need to have on hand to make the holiday complete.

Quick Tips for Hosting Your First Thanksgiving 

The key is to keep stress to a minimum, according to But there are some simple things to consider when thinking about hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner. 

Hosting a Friends-giving is a low-pressure way to start. This way you can relinquish some of the cooking to others, leaving you with the turkey and the venue. Have friends bring their favorite side dishes to share with all. Or they can just pick up bread or dessert … if they are not cooks. 

Alison Awerbuch, partner and chief culinary officer of Abigail Kirsch Catering in New York says “less is more.” A lot of side dishes and desserts means a lot of clean up. So, keep it simple. 

Also, not all dishes need to be fresh out of the oven or slow cooker. For example, some dishes can be prepared in the morning and left on the counter for the main meal. suggests roasted vegetables or oven-roasted parsnips and carrots. This way, all you have to do is warm it up and maybe drizzle a combination of maple syrup, sherry vinegar and herbs over the vegetables. 

A must-have dessert is, of course, the pie. However, suggests roasted apples with ice cream or roasted pears with chocolate sauce and coffee ice cream for your consideration. 

For more recipes and tips for hosting the best Thanksgiving ever, visit

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