How To Host Thanksgiving In Your New Home

Morgan McBrideNovember 09, 2020

November marks the start of what can be a stressful season for new homeowners. Planning the first Thanksgiving in your new home can feel overwhelming when you have a growing list of holiday to-dos (like planning a bargain hunting spree on Black Friday). And in 2020, you have to consider COVID precautions too.

It can be difficult to balance the excitement of wanting to host Thanksgiving in your home with the need to use proper precautions and social distancing. We all hope for the best, but since the future is still uncertain, the first half of this article will provide tips assuming a low COVID-19 rate, while the second will outline steps to take if the rate is higher.

Planning Your Thanksgiving Menu

Try A Potluck Thanksgiving

Before you create your menu, there is an important question you have to ask yourself: Can I handle making everything on my own? If the answer is yes, that’s great. But if you hesitated or said no, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

The stress of hosting Thanksgiving in your new home is enough; you don’t need to make it worse by making everything yourself. To lighten your load, feel free to make Thanksgiving dinner a potluck. Just make sure to designate who brings what and keep track of it so you don’t end up with five pies and no potatoes.

Consider Catering

If coordinating a potluck is too stressful for you, you can even have your Thanksgiving dinner catered from a local restaurant. There’s no shame in catering, and you’ll be guaranteed to have a good meal! Many grocery stores also offer Thanksgiving meals that you just need to put in the oven. By ordering the staples premade, your time is freed up to cook your very favorite family tradition dishes and spend more time with the family.

It’s important to choose dishes that will easily provide the right amount of food for the number of guests you’re inviting and also suit their tastes and dietary restrictions. If you haven’t seen someone in a while, be sure to ask if they have any special dietary needs. While you don’t have to cater every dish to every person, knowing that someone has an allergy can allow you to leave certain ingredients out or place them on the side.

And remember that if you’re picking up your feast on Thanksgiving morning, that means those workers are away from their families that day, so be extra nice to them!


If you’re looking to mix up your Thanksgiving meal this year, there are a few fun ways to come up with new food ideas. Of course, popular blogs, Pinterest, and food magazines are great places to also find holiday recipes to try out. For something new, watching cooking shows like the “Thanksgiving Ultimate Challenge” can give you great ideas for twists on classic dishes.

You could also take this as an opportunity to reach out to older family members to see if they have any classic recipes that you might not have had in recent years. Bring them back for a fun trip down memory lane!

Tips For Thanksgiving Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping in preparation for Thanksgiving can be a stressful task, but it’s not as daunting as you might think. Just make sure to plan ahead by making a detailed shopping list before you go to the grocery store.

  • When compiling your list, look over every recipe and double check it just to be safe.
  • To eliminate the risk of grocery stores selling out and to avoid a “Hunger Games”-style fight-to-the-death fiasco, make sure to grocery shop in advance. I would recommend going about 3 – 4 days before you begin your cooking. That way, you can start meal prepping right after your shopping trip.
  • Order your turkey well in advance and pick it up with enough time to allow it to fully thaw.

How To Set Your Thanksgiving Table

Setting the table for Thanksgiving dinner should be one of your smallest worries, and it can be done in advance. An elaborate centerpiece isn’t needed, but it’s fun and festive to do a little something different for the special day.

Find a good tablecloth that sets the mood and can act as a decoration. Make sure to find the best glassware, dishes and flatware you own, and count everything to ensure you have enough for each guest. To add to the decorative ambiance, use pretty napkins and a fall-inspired flower arrangement for the center of the table. If you’re feeling fancy, make place cards for your guests by putting their names on index cards or name tags on a pumpkin or gourd. This special touch will add meaning to your guests’ Thanksgiving holiday.

Tips For Cleaning Up

After indulging in good food and good company with your family and friends, it’ll be time to clean up all of your hard work. This is your final responsibility as a Thanksgiving dinner host.

Here are some tips to make cleanup go quicker:

  • Feel free to have your friends and family members help out with this final stage, so you can enjoy their company when you’re done.
  • You can make cleanup easier by having people put their dishes in soapy water as they finish with them. This will allow the dishes to soak, making them easier to get clean in the dishwasher or by hand.
  • You can also label the trash can and recycling bin, so your guests know how to properly dispose of their waste.
  • My favorite cleanup hack is rolling up the tablecloth when everyone leaves and taking it outside and shaking it out. It’ll feel like a magic trick!
  • Be ready for people to have leftovers. Have Tupperware ready to grab, and go the extra mile by having bags and a labeling marker out, too. Your guests will quickly be able to take some more food off your hands and keep it organized.

Adjusting For COVID

Try A Zoom Thanksgiving

If you can’t get together this year, consider meeting over Zoom or another video platform instead. When scheduling a Zoom Thanksgiving, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Coordinate start and end times so no one misses a beat.
  • Swap recipes ahead of time so favorite foods can still be shared.
  • Get the house ready for a virtual tour – be prepared to show off your special table setting or any other festive decor.
  • Avoid inviting too many people in order to reduce logistical challenges.
  • Make sure that any friends or family who have never used Zoom before are prepared by doing a test run with them in advance.

If Your Climate And Yard Permit, Consider Hosting An Outdoor Thanksgiving

The CDC suggests that outdoor gatherings are safer when it comes to COVID transmission. Of course, there are a lot of factors that determine whether an outdoor celebration will work for you. You need good weather, outdoor space and outdoor seating and tables.

If you don’t want to have to provide tons of tables and chairs, consider a socially distanced tailgating style meal. Everyone can park in one parking area, bring their own chairs and table, and just eat in the same general area. It could be fun and would definitely be a Thanksgiving to remember.

If you do plan an outdoor event, it’s very important to let guests know in advance that it will be outside. This allows them to properly prepare, whether they need to bring their own lawn chair or just pack an extra sweater. And of course, be sure to have a rain plan. This could mean moving indoors or putting up a tent. Communicate this rain plan so that guests aren’t panicking that morning.

When eating outside, you can still decorate! Twinkle lights add a lot of ambiance to outdoor spaces if you’re gathering in the evening. Be sure that any centerpieces or name cards are heavy enough that they won’t blow away if there is a breeze.


Hopefully, these tips will help make hosting Thanksgiving in your new home something that will create positive, long-lasting memories. Don’t let the stress of the holidays get you down. Instead, give thanks and enjoy time with your loved ones, however that looks this year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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    Morgan McBride

    Morgan McBride is a DIY-lover and home decor enthusiast living in Charleston, South Carolina. She has been blogging at alongside her husband since 2012, where they empower their readers to craft their current home into their dream home through the power of DIY.