Your Guide To Hosting Thanksgiving

November 14, 2017


America’s Eating Contest, (aka. “Thanksgiving”), is nearly here, and you’re grateful. You’ve got family, friends, a cozy life, and a sensational sense of foodie humor that puts the “corny” in “cornucopia”! And for the love of yum, you’ve got your stretchy pants here to see you through the holiday season. Thank you, creators of elastic waistbands!

With so much love in your heart and tummy, you’re feeling brave and ready to host your very first family feast! But even with so many mouths to feed, remember that the best things in life are free. Your family and friends don’t care about how well stocked your bar cart or how flourished your decorations are — they’re grateful for YOU!

To help show them how grateful you are for them, we’ve put together some helpful tips. From how much turkey to buy, to how to clean up after the feast, like gravy on potatoes, we’ve got you covered.

Knowing how much turkey per person is one of the most important details in hosting Thanksgiving. Here’s the basic rule: one pound of turkey per person. (Side note: this rule will NOT apply if you’re hosting Major League Eating’s finest competitors!) If you want leftovers ― or you know your guests are coming armed in their finest Turkey Baby Maternity Pants,  1 1/2 to 2 pounds per person. Stick with that, and your Thanksgiving is off on the right wing!

How many appetizers should you have?

The number of appetizers you serve depends on their type and on how much other food you’re planning to have with your meal. The purpose of the appetizer is to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable, take the edge off of those who saved their stomachs for dinner,  and whet appetites around the room in preparation for the feast. Usually, three-four bites per person should be enough to do the trick. For appetizers such as shrimp cocktails or oysters, plan about two pieces per person. For smaller hors d’oeuvres allot three per person. For dips, about 3 oz per person will be enough.
**Helpful hint** put out raw veggies with your dip instead of chips. They’re lighter, healthier, and not as filling before the big meal!

Here’s a guide to how many hors d’oeuvres to supply depending on the number of guests: courtesy of the Food Network.

4 guests: 12 small hors d’oeuvres, 12 ounces dip; 8 guests: 24 small hors d’oeuvres, 1 1/2 pounds dip.
12 guests: 36 small hors d’oeuvres, 2 1/4 pounds dip; 16 guests: 48 small hors d’oeuvres, 3 pounds dip.

Click here for 25 bite size Thanksgiving appetizer recipes, courtesy of Martha Stewart (Martha, if you’re reading this, you and Snoop are always invited to my table! xo).

Here’s a list of wines that complement the elements of your great American Eating Competition:


Grenaches often contain the dynamic duo of cherries and cinnamon, while still maintaining a fresh flavor. This team up provides the perfect balance to a robust turkey menu.


Deep, fruity flavors combine forces with warm spices and sometimes even chocolate in this elixer. The flavors pair wonderfully with the homey flavors of Thanksgiving.


With a bubbly texture, and a lovely acidity, sparkling wines complement any Thanksgiving dish. **Helpful hint** Rosé sparklers are especially wonderful when combined with appetizers!

Use a pumpkin as a vase and fill it with seasonally colored flowers! This easy-to-make centerpiece is also easy on the wallet, and adds a beautiful and festive touch to your dinner table.

What you need:

A vase, a pumpkin, some water, and some beautiful flowers!

How to:

  1. Pick a vase from your home that is about the height of a pumpkin, or purchase a pumpkin that is about the same height as your vase!
  2. Cut off the stem of your pumpkin, then place the vase atop the pumpkin and trace the opening of the vase on the top of the pumpkin. Cut out a hole big enough to fit your vase.
  3. Gut the pumpkin, removing all seeds and strings.
  4. Place vase inside, and fill with flowers of your choosing! We recommend seasonal flowers from your local grocery store that are deep reds, oranges and yellows.

**Helpful Hint**  use tape to make a grid shape on the opening of the vase. Then place the flower stems within the grid holes to hold them in place!

Find more centerpiece ideas here.

Cleaning up is always the biggest challenge of Thanksgiving. Here are some tips and tricks to keep the cleanup process short, simple and easy so you have more time to enjoy the company of family and friends.

Set up a soaking station for your pots and pans that isn’t the sink, for example a bin full of soap and water. Then you can place it out of the way,  and keep the sink empty all night for anything else you may need it for!

Layer more than one trash bag in the bin, that way when you take out the trash there’s already a fresh bag underneath!

Select cookware that can go from the oven, to the table, to the freezer to eliminate a few dishes.

Line the pans with which you bake or roast with aluminum foil. This way you can simply throw away the lining and simplify cleaning the pan! A quick rinse with soap and water is easier than a heavy duty scrub.


Little ones have a tendency to get antsy during Thanksgiving festivities. Here’s a way to help keep them occu{pie}d and having a good time!

Print off some Thanksgiving props and attach them to popsicle sticks, then have a photoshoot! Click here for some downloadable Thanksgiving props.

Let them color! We have a coloring book for you here (scroll to bottom)!

Have them decorate their own Thanksgiving placemats! Here is a printable for that too!

Stream the movie Free Birds on Netflix. This family friendly movie is about a turkey who tries to go back in time and remove turkey from the Thanksgiving menu.

Get the whole family involved by allowing everyone to contribute during the cooking and cleaning stages of Thanksgiving. Giving each kid a specific task will make them feel important and keep them occupied. It also allows you to spend more time together!

Hungry for more great holiday entertaining ideas? Check out the Top Ten Tips for Festive Entertaining from

The best parts of Thanksgiving are priceless: friendship, family, love and gratitude. So be sure to send your guests home with a thank you card that tells them how much you appreciate them! We have just the card! Let us send you a printable card to print and fill out at home.

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Have any special Thanksgiving hosting tricks up your sleeve that you’d like to share? Let us know! Tag @EatBeMary. Spreading a little help can go a long way!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving friends! Be safe and well.

XO, Mary Signature

& The Team at Eat! Be Mary!