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Thanksgiving Prep Made Easy

We love this cozy time of year. Gratitude is in the air, and family will soon gather together. We can practically smell the turkey, and hear the happy ruckus, already. So grab a cup of cider and help yourself to a heaping serving of Thanksgiving planning tips. With a little head start, you can enjoy your family time to the fullest. The rest, after all, is gravy!

Celebratory Style
Natural and rustic or playful and modern? Envision the look and feel of your gathering, so that any decorative touches, from the front door to the mantle to the tabletop, feel cohesive. Check out our free printable Thanksgiving Party Decor Collection for inspiration.

Quick House Prep
Take a sweep through the house to see what needs freshening. Perhaps you'll want to stock the bathroom with a couple of new towels and a pumpkin spice candle. If your welcome mat is looking a little dingy, swap it out for a new, seasonally inspired one. Small touches can have a big, brightening impact. As the day gets closer, kid-proof your space as necessary--plug electrical outlets and stow away breakable vases or other fragile items.

A Stress-Less Feast
If possible, plan your menu at least one to two weeks in advance and do as much early shopping as you can. Include in your menu the must-have classics along with one or two new and unexpected dishes to mix it up, plus kid-friendly offerings. Better yet, delegate desserts and sides, and give others the opportunity to proudly share their yummy Thanksgiving traditions. Add a signature cocktail, with a non-alcoholic version for kids, for an extra festive touch. Consider stocking up on containers for leftovers. Be sure they're easily accessible so guests can help themselves before heading out. (But remember to save some for yourself!)

Thankful Fun for Kids
Set up a kids table--and make them feel special rather than banished. Include name tags so kids can excitedly find their spot. Let them create their own centerpiece by providing stickers and paint for decorating gourds. Free printable coloring pages with Thanksgiving themes abound, so provide those along side a basket of crayons.

To really bring home the point of the holiday while keeping kids entertained (and adults relaxed), create a Thankful Tree. Paint or draw a bare tree on poster board, cut out colorful fall leaves on construction paper, and invite children to write down, leaf by leaf, all the things that make them feel thankful. Let them share their notes of gratitude at dinner, and then stick the leaves to the tree with adhesive dots or double-sided tape.

Family Photos
Thanksgiving get-togethers, especially multi-generational gatherings, are golden opportunities for family portraits and snapshots, of course! Charge your camera the night before, and think ahead about a few key shots you'd like to snag. Try for a small number of group shots and as many fun candids as you can comfortably make time to capture. For group photos, tell everyone to get close and cozy, and let your family fill the frame. Shoot outside, or stand on a chair to get a birds eye view of everyone at the table. Add your favorite shots to a Thanksgiving slideshow to email to guests the following week, or print up collages to frame and wrap for holiday gift-giving.