Helping to make warm holiday memories for loved ones is among the most rewarding experiences a host can have. With a little preparation, and the knowledge that no one expects perfection, the day can be special for everyone – even you.

Snacks to Start
Sure, everyone’s about to eat their largest (and most caloric) meal of the year, but it’s always nice to have something to munch on while you mingle pre-meal. Choose light, easy snacks like crudites, fruit, or cheese and crackers. Plus, if some unseen force delays dinner, the masses will remain docile until it’s time to sit down.

Potluck Party
As host, prepare the turkey and a couple of sides, but leave the rest to the guests. Mention that it’s potluck when you extend the invite, so no one in surprised, and ask your guests if they have a specialty they’d like to share. Just be sure all the bases are covered from bread to salads to dessert, so you don’t end up with five takes on mashed potatoes and no pie to follow.

Get Grateful
Ask your guests to share one good thing that’s happened to them this week, or something they look forward to doing before the end of the year. Or, go around the table and play the alphabet game as you give thanks, and see how silly it gets. “My name is Jeff and I’m thankful for ABBA sing-alongs, breakfast with my kids, and chocolate chip cookies…” “My name is Deb and I’m thankful for ABBA sing-alongs, breakfast with my kids, chocolate chip cookies, and days off…”

Good to Go
Everyone loves Thanksgiving leftovers. Avoid a cluttered fridge, and potential wasted food, by sharing the bounty. After dessert, set out a variety of to-go boxes and labels, so guests can enjoy a Friday replay of the feast, as well.

After Dinner Drinks
Guests don’t typically leave the second the meal is over. Encourage them to linger by setting out board games or decks of cards, and offering a festive beverage. Whether it’s a pot of good coffee, a crockpot of apple cider, or a pitcher of sangria, this will put guests at ease by conveying the message that they can stay as long as they’d like.


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