Monday, October 12, 2015

Hostess Tips for Thanksgiving Dinner

Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year?
Does the thought of getting all the food to the table feel overwhelming?

It can be a daunting task if you are unprepared...

Thinking about the family celebratory dinners that I have prepared over the years made me realize that I actually have a routine...perhaps my tips will help.

Set the date for your dinner and invite the guests.
Peruse cookbooks, magazines, and your recipe box and decide on the menu.
(keep the menu simple if you are new to cooking!)

You many ask your guests to bring a dish already prepared to share.

Decide on your table setting...linen tablecloth and napkins.
Purchase or gather things to decorate the table ~ candles, flowers, pine cones, pumpkins and gourds.

A couple of days the food and ingredients that you need to prepare the dishes.
One day ahead prepare as many dishes as you can...
I prepare most of the vegetables and place them in their oven proof serving dishes ~ then reheat them.
Write down the cooking and reheating times of all the dishes so that you leave nothing to chance.

While the roast or turkey (main dish) is in the oven.
Set the table...then sit for a bit and rest!

Enjoy the time with your guests and excuse yourself when you need to go to the kitchen.

When the roast is resting on the carving board make the gravy and cook any other veggies that you are serving.

Ask people to help carry the food to the table.
Serve and enjoy!

For our Thanksgiving dinner I used several recipes from Ina Garten's Foolproof cookbook.

I used her basic Brussels Sprouts recipe.
(I omitted the meat because we have a vegetarian in the family)

I cooked a small salmon filet and some mac n cheese for the grand children.

These Sophie Conran dishes are so handy...
they look nice and all go into the oven and microwave.

Ina's Parsnips and Carrots
colourful and tasty.
(Corning Ware oval roaster)

I served her English style potato recipe which was a huge hit.
Crunchy and delicious...
not one crumb left in the bowl!

Simple Sweet Peas and mashed yams rounded out the menu.

9 pound Prime Rib of Beef Roast...
cooked to perfection thanks to an online beef time chart.

I made gravy while this beast rested for 20 minutes on the board until Mr. HB expertly carved.
(he sharpened all the knives the day before we hosted the dinner)

After dinner ~ before dessert,
 a couple of guests helped clear the table while I put the food away.
We put the coffee on...
set the table with dessert and fresh plates.

The dinner plates were quickly loaded into the dishwasher and the silverware soaked in soapy water.
Pots and pans were stacked for cleaning until after the guests depart.

Retro Time Warp Chocolate Wafer Log for dessert.
(Christies Wafers have the recipe on the box)
I use freshly whipped cream instead of the whipped topping that they suggest.

Prepare at least 4 hours before serving, cover and refrigerate.
I served the log with fresh strawberries.

Relax and enjoy your guests.

Clean up after they leave or postpone it until the next morning.

Launder the linens, iron and put them away.

If you are lucky there will be leftovers for dinner and you can take the rest of the day to put your feet up!


  1. Great tips Hostess! At the same time, being primarily responsible for a holiday meal CAN be stressful, even if you are prepared!

  2. Great post! We call that Zebra Cake - never thought about serving it with strawberries - thanks. And there's never a crumb left!

  3. Love your dinner menu Hostess, and you have roast beef, that's a nice change from turkey, I should try that.
    I posted my Thanksgiving dinner menu today, for once I prepared a few days in advance and it made all the difference, there were no tears in the kitchen this year ;)
    How sweet is the meal you made for your grandkids, they must love coming to your house.xo

  4. Happy Thanksgiving, Hostess. That's one celebration we have not adopted here in the UK ☺

  5. Wonderful tips! I always make carrots and parsnips for Thanksgiving, too. I top mine with roasted cranberries. It's a colorful and very easy dish that's so good! Your dinner looks fabulous! I'm with you, I do as much as I can as far ahead as possible. It's a marathon.

  6. What a very nice meal and celebration. Sounds like perfection. I, too, like prime rib roast for Thanksgiving. Somehow I've lost my taste for Turkey. Love your veggie dishes. I will definitely add those to my meal prep line-up. Thanks for sharing. Susan

  7. I imagine your Thanksgiving is warm, cozy, delicious, and full of laughter.

  8. Thank you for this Leslie ... excellent tips ... I especially liked the one about including a rest during the preparation time! I think that's the part we all usually forget! Your dinner looks absolutely delicious ... I m sure all your guests were very appreciative.
    Hope you're having a good week.

  9. I always understood Thanksgiving to be an american festivity. What is the Canadian connection ? In Australia, where we come from, christmas is the biggest family celebration. Here where we live in France it tends to be christmas and All Saints Day (Halloween in the USA). Whatever the occasion, organisation always makes life easier, doesn't it ?

    1. It's a religious and harvest celebration...
      In Canada
      I found this explanation on the internet...
      While some researchers state that "there is no compelling narrative of the origins of the Canadian Thanksgiving day" the first Canadian Thanksgiving is often traced back to 1578 and the explorer Martin Frobisher. Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean, held his Thanksgiving celebration not for harvest but in thanks for surviving the long journey from England through the perils of storms and icebergs. On his third and final voyage to the far north, Frobisher held a formal ceremony in Frobisher Bay in Baffin Island (present-day Nunavut) to give thanks to God and in a service ministered by the preacher Robert Wolfall they celebrated Communion.

      The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are also sometimes traced to the French settlers who came to New France with explorer Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th century, who celebrated their successful harvests. The French settlers in the area typically had feasts at the end of the harvest season and continued throughout the winter season, even sharing food with the indigenous peoples of the area.

      As settlers arrived in Canada from New England, late autumn Thanksgiving celebrations became common. New immigrants into the country—such as the Irish, Scottish, and Germans—also added their own traditions to the harvest celebrations. Most of the US aspects of Thanksgiving (such as the turkey), were incorporated when United Empire Loyalists began to flee from the United States during the American Revolution and settled in Canada.

    2. Fascinating. Where we live in France there are lots of harvest celebrations in small villages after the grape picking is finished rather than a national event. There are other crops all through the year ( the same in Australia) so a single 'thanskgiving' doesn't happen. Perhaps because of the lack of crops through those freezing winters in Canada celebrating your harvest festival at this time of year makes perfect sense. Thank you for the background information.

  10. I would love being a guest at your table - you are well organised and relaxed!
    There's nothing nicer than roast beef and all the trimmings.
    I imagine your guests went home very happy,
    Shane x

  11. Sounds like a lovely meal with LOTS of vegetables!

  12. My friend's mum used to make that chocolate log. It was delicious! I really enjoy the vegetables at this time. Thanksgiving is a favourite celebration.

  13. Everything you make looks just delicious. Thank you for the preparation tips. I too like to prepare as much as possible in advance. Prime rib roasts are a family favourite. I am definitely going to make the chocolate log! Looks good, and easy which suits me well.

  14. What fun to see a Chocolate Wafer Log, for which we begged my mother, again! And it is still a terrific no-bake dessert. Unlike you or perhaps others, I do not wish my guests to bring a dish to share- suppose I like more control over the menu, but also, I like to fully treat them and be received that way in return. We no longer have a car and ferrying dishes to a house is a major pain.