how to prepare for Thanksgiving

If you host friends and family for the Thanksgiving holiday, this post is for you. Today I am sharing some ideas and inspiration on how to organize, prepare and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.


Entertaining family and friends can be stressful if you are not prepared and organized. Let me show how to ease the stress and enjoy yourself thoroughly as you open your doors wide, welcoming guests into your home. This post from earlier in the season can be super helpful as well and set the foundation {how to get ready for the entertaining season}.

preparing for Thanksgiving
how to get ready for the entertaining season

Get Organized to Prepare for Thanksgiving

Being organized and prepared is task numero uno to slay the game. I think no other holiday is centered more around the meal than Thanksgiving. Consequently, planning the menu, making grocery lists, reviewing recipes etc. are all super important. This is a post which shares a strategy in more detail {Thanksgiving prep}.

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Prepare for thanksgiving
Thanksgiving prep

These are things you can start a month or weeks in advance of the holiday. Along with the food, Thanksgiving prep also includes all the kitchen tools and equipment you will use for the Turkey and fixings. For example, getting kitchen knives sharpened and accessing server ware and cookware that we specifically need for the Holiday are always tasks I like to get done early. Making sure linens are clean and pressed is always on my list as well.

thanksgiving prep
Thanksgiving prep

Cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry are also great tasks to tackle early. Make sure to check all expiration dates and stock all the staples you know you’ll need. You can start purchasing your non perishables now, including canned pumpkin, chicken broth, stuffing etc. to name a few. Grocery stores tend to become a little nutty during Thanksgiving week. I try to only have the absolute necessities on my list the week of, like the turkey, fresh produce and baguette.

Thanksgiving menu

This post {Thanksgiving organization 101} is full of helpful hints for the week of and the actual day. Planning and preparing the meal is stressful enough, but we can’t forget about the clean up and aftermath. Tips like dishpans for china and crystal, plus designated to go containers for guests are a couple of the tips you’ll find on this post.

How to prepare for thanksgiving
Thanksgiving organization 101

Many of these tasks will not only help you for the Thanksgiving holiday, but will also prepare you for the many celebrations that follow throughout the holiday season.

Designing a Table Styling

One of my favorite parts of the process is designing our Thanksgiving tablescape. I use many tried and true details on our Thanksgiving table, but I also like to keep it fresh from year to year. Last year wooden pumpkins and green accents set the tone for the table.

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Thanksgiving tablescape
happy thanksgiving

The year before we had a rustic vibe {rustic thanksgiving tablescape}. And although the tables have different styles some details stay consistent. The Johnson Brother’s Barnyard King turkey dinner plates, copper chargers and Waterford crystal tend to be regulars at our Thanksgiving tables.

rustic Thanksgiving tablescape

There are so many different muses for Thanksgiving table scapes, including pumpkins, turkeys, acorns, pine cones, leaves, and more. One year I created these golden pumpkins from inexpensive Dollar Tree pumpkins with some simple gold spray paint and attached a Thanksgiving prayer as place cards.

Thanksgiving tablscaoe
Thanksgiving tablescape with mixed metals

Speaking of place cards, in this post you will find several different ideas to use for your Thanksgiving table {3 creative Thanksgiving place cards}.

Thanksgiving place cards
3 creative thanksgiving place cards

This year I created these chalkboard pumpkin tags, which I shared not too long ago in this tablescape {fall table setting}. The great thing about chalkboard is that it can be reused over and over again.

chalkboard pumpkin tabletop DIY

For the Thanksgiving holiday, our place cards usually perform double duty. Names are placed on the front, and the back is used as a journaling card where everyone expresses their gratitude. After the meal, we go around the table and everyone shares their thankful thoughts. It’s a lovely tradition, which I look forward to every year.

Thanksgiving tablescape

Creating Personal Details

Crafting personal touches around your home is a great way to personalize your decor. It allows you to create something exactly as you want it, plus it injects your personal signature into your home. This post {5 easy ways to DIY pumpkins} provides several different ways to DIY your own pumpkins from inexpensive varieties.

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DIY pumpkins
5 easy ways to DIY pumpkins

The Dollar Tree is a great resource for pumpkins, which can be up-cycled to fit your style, colors, etc. That’s where I got most of mine, but craft stores are also a good source, especially while using a coupon or during a sale.

5 easy ways to DIY pumpkins

Garlands and swags are also a great decorating detail, which are easily customized. They look great draped on a breakfront or armoire in the dining room while you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast. Garlands and banners are also great on mirrors, mantels or around a doorway.

fall garlands
5 DIY garland, banners & swag for fall

Besides making all these home creations personal, they tend to be less expensive than buying a prefabricated item. Therefore, it’s a win win all around.

Happy Thanksgiving

Don’t let the words DIY scare you if you are not a crafter. Some projects are super simple and easy to follow. This sign below is a perfect example and only requires two items, which include a wooden board and the image of your choice.

welcoming autumn with a DIY sign

The Season of Gratitude

I hope some of this or all of this helps and inspires you for the Thanksgiving holiday. I am grateful you are here and appreciate all you for stopping by. At our home, I am looking forward to having all four us under one roof together. It will only be for a few days, as the kids dash in from college and then dash out. BUT they will be the best days ever!

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“Forever on Thanksgiving the heart will find the pathway home.”

Wilbur D. Nesbit

sharing @ between naps on the porch


  1. Rachel says:

    What a great post, MaryJo!! So many helpful tips and ideas in this one!!!

    1. Thanks Rachel. Glad you enjoyed it & the visit! XO- MJ

  2. What a wonderful post to help get us organized and ready for Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing so many great tips.

    1. Thanks Wendy. I hope you found it helpful. XO- MJ

  3. Donna Allen says:

    Thanks for sharing your tips MaryJo! You know how much I love organization! Also loved seeing your beautiful table settings and Fall decor!

    1. Thanks so much Donna! I can’t believe October is almost over!! XO- MJ

  4. Cindy says:

    Great tips for getting ready for Thanksgiving. I make lists to get ready. I am still a list maker

    1. Yes! Lists are the best. And crossing something off the list is even better. Thanks for stopping by. XO- MJ

  5. Maria Kamara says:

    Maryjo, great tips on getting and keeping it all together during the upcoming busy time of year. Gorgeous tablescapes!

    1. Thank you so much Maria. I appreciate your sweet comments & the visit! XO- MJ

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