There is no way around it, hosting Thanksgiving is a very stressful process. You have a million things to do and are being pulled in a million directions all at once. We are here to help you make sense of all of it by providing a step-by-step guide to ease that stress and make the process as seamless as possible!
We will also be showing you how you can outsource everything and get all of this accomplished without having to even leave your home. This guide lays out everything you need, so you won’t be too overwhelmed.
Shopping for Food
Everyone knows that shopping for food is one of the most stressful parts of Thanksgiving. However, there are some essentials that are easy to take care of. These dishes are so synonymous with Thanksgiving we often make the mistake of not enjoying them year-round (poor stuffing). Use our guide to ensure you don’t miss anything important for your Thanksgiving feast.
Turkey - Whether you roast it in the oven, cook it on the grill, smoke it in a smoker, or deep fry it, it's a must-have. You can buy a frozen turkey a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, just remember to put it in the fridge a couple of days before Thanksgiving to allow it to thaw.
Our Favorite Recipes:
Saving You the Headache, Delivery to Your Door:
Stuffing (or Dressing) - If you want to keep it simple, Stove Top Stuffing can do the trick. Just pick up a couple of boxes and some butter, and you're good to go. If you want to make your own, there are plenty of different recipes. For most of them, you'll need a combination of 2 loaves of bread, unsalted butter, onions, celery, garlic, parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, kosher salt, pepper, chicken or vegetable broth, and eggs.
Mashed Potatoes - If you want to go the quick route, you can pick up a package or two of potato flakes. Otherwise, choose Russet, Idaho, or Yukon Gold potatoes because they have a starchy texture that prevents them from becoming soupy. Get a nice bag of potatoes, heavy cream, milk or sour cream, and butter, and you're all set.
Gravy - Making gravy from scratch may seem daunting, but it only requires a few ingredients: butter, flour, and chicken or beef broth. Alternatively, you can pick up a packet of McCormick gravy mix that will still satisfy your guests.
Cranberry Sauce - It's like your weird uncle, it just has to be there. You can pick up the classic canned version or make your own using cranberries, sugar, and orange juice.
Easy to Make Recipes
Green Bean Casserole - There are some frozen options you can grab and pop in the oven. If you are making it yourself you can use fresh, canned, or frozen beans for your casserole. It's a perfect dish to make ahead of time and then heat up on the day of Thanksgiving. In addition to the beans, you'll need cream of mushroom soup, milk, soy sauce, and, most importantly, French's French-fried onions.
Pumpkin Pie - You can make your own crust, which can be a little labor-intensive, or buy an unbaked one from the store. Then, fill the crust with a mixture of canned pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. If you don't want to gather all the spices separately, you can also use pre-made pumpkin pie spice. Don't forget to grab some toppings for your pie. Some people prefer ice cream, but whipped cream is also a popular choice.
Pie and Crust Recipes
These classic dishes will ensure that your Thanksgiving meal checks all the boxes.
Mac and Cheese - It’s always a crowd-pleaser, whether you opt for the box of Kraft or make it from scratch. In either case, you'll need to have butter and milk on hand. For the homemade version, you'll also need elbow macaroni, flour, salt, black pepper, half and half, cheese, and breadcrumbs.
Sweet Potatoes - where you'll find a wide variety of recipes. Regardless of whether they're roasted, baked, or made into a casserole, you'll definitely need brown sugar and butter. Personally, I love recipes that include sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows.
Simple and Fun Recipes
Chicken Nuggets - With the wide variety of Thanksgiving food, it can be overwhelming for little kids, so it's a good idea to have something on hand that you know they'll love. No kid can resist them, and I'm sure some of the adults will be a little envious too.
Ethnic Twist - Thanksgiving is a time for tradition, but it can also be an opportunity to start new traditions. Putting your own spin on the holiday can be fulfilling and spark creativity among your guests. As someone from a Polish family, we always have perogies. Adding a touch of your own heritage to this iconic American holiday is what our country is all about.
When it comes to Thanksgiving preparations, you don't have to stress about going to the grocery store. Instead, you can have all your Thanksgiving essentials conveniently delivered right to your doorstep.
- Postmates, Uber Eats - These popular food delivery services can bring Thanksgiving ingredients and dishes straight to your door.
- Instacart, Amazon Fresh, Mercato - Take advantage of these grocery delivery services to have all your Thanksgiving necessities delivered right to your doorstep.
- Jewel-Osco - A Chicago staple, this grocery store chain offers online ordering and delivery for Thanksgiving.
With just a few clicks, you can order everything you need for your Thanksgiving feast. So sit back, relax, and let the grocery delivery services take care of the shopping, while you focus on enjoying a stress-free holiday with your loved ones!
If you feel like all of this is too much work, there are a couple of other options available. Catering is a convenient way to have someone else take care of everything.
- Classic - The Goddess and Grocer and Wildfire have menus that allow you to select your preferred dishes. Summer House Santa Monica offers a preset menu that can be ordered and even delivered if you live nearby.
- Non-Traditional - For a non-traditional approach, you can try some BBQ from Green Street Meats, Twin Anchors, or Bub City. You can also explore Caribbean cuisine with Jerk Jamaican Barbecue or 90 Miles Cuban Café.
- Chicago Style - Perhaps you haven't considered it yet, but how about a Chicago Style Thanksgiving? You can have deep dish pizzas from your favorite spot (let's not argue about that here) along with some Italian beef from another favorite spot (see pizza comment). You can even add your favorite hot dogs (same as the previous two comments) and go all out. These Chicago staples can make a fine meal in their own right or you can surprise your guests by mixing and matching them with some of the Thanksgiving essentials.
Enjoy a relaxing Thanksgiving by letting someone else take care of the cooking!
Drinks for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, enjoy delicious food, and make memories. But let's not forget about drinks!
- Local - You can enhance the celebration by including some popular local Chicago beers like Goose Island or Revolution, which can be found at most grocery stores.
- Seasonal - Pumpkin beers are always a hit and Oktoberfest beers are still in season, despite it not technically being the right month.
- Light - It's also a good idea to have some light beer options for those who prefer milder flavors.
- Non-Alcoholic - Consider offering non-alcoholic beer options, as they have become increasingly popular. Many brands like Guinness, Corona, and Heineken now offer non-alcoholic versions that may be appreciated by those who don't drink alcohol.
- White - A crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio pairs well with turkey and other holiday dishes. It's also a refreshing option for those who prefer lighter drinks.
- Red - A medium-bodied red wine like Pinot Noir or Merlot complements the richness of Thanksgiving foods. Its fruity flavors and smooth tannins make it a crowd-pleaser.
- Holiday Theme - Surprise your guests with a signature cocktail, which can be served in a large punch bowl to save time. As a Fireball fan, I recommend trying this Thanksgiving punch from Sugar and Soul. You'll need Fireball, apple cider, cranberry juice, orange juice, apricot brandy, and lemon-lime soda. You can also make a non-alcoholic version for the kids, just be careful not to mix them up!
- Classics - You can always stick to tried-and-true cocktails like Old Fashioned or Manhattan. These drinks are familiar and loved by many, making them a safe bet for your Thanksgiving gathering. You will need bourbon, sugar, bitters, and oranges for an Old Fashioned or bourbon, bitters, sweet vermouth, and maraschino cherries for your Manhattan.
- Eggnog - This creamy and indulgent drink is a holiday classic. Serve it with a sprinkle of nutmeg for an extra festive touch.
- Pop/Juice - Stock up on various sodas and juices to please everyone's taste buds.
- Apple Cider - This seasonal drink is perfect for autumn and can be served warm or cold.
We promised that you could plan your Thanksgiving without leaving your house, and this includes getting drinks. Here are some popular options:
You also have the option to add alcohol to your grocery order using the services mentioned earlier.
Thanksgiving Entertainment Ideas
Thanksgiving is a time for family, food, and of course, entertainment! From classic board games to new streaming services, here are some ideas for all ages to enjoy during Thanksgiving.
TV has been woven into the fabric of Thanksgiving. There is nothing better than watching the parade, then the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, and ending the night with some fun Thanksgiving specials and episodes of your favorite shows. There is something for everyone to watch on Thanksgiving.
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade - One of the most popular Thanksgiving traditions is watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This iconic event features floats, balloons, and performances from popular artists. Plus, it's suitable for all ages to enjoy! Make sure to have access to NBC in order to watch this.
- National Dog Show For animal lovers, the National Dog Show is an adorable option to watch after the parade or during dinner prep. This annual event showcases some of the cutest and most talented dogs in the country. Like the parade, this is also on NBC.
- Football - If sports are more your family's style, there's always football on Thanksgiving. The NFL is rolling out three games, but you will need a variety of channels to watch them. The games are on FOX, CBS, and NBC, so be sure to have a cable subscription, someone's cable log-in information, Hulu Live, or YouTube TV so you don’t miss any of the action.
- Thanksgiving Shows - If you're feeling a little nostalgic, why not take a trip down memory lane with classic movies or TV shows? Having the right streaming services is a must for this. Sitcom episodes centered around Thanksgiving, like Friends (Max), How I Met Your Mother (Hulu), and New Girl (Hulu or Peacock) are always a fun choice. And who can forget the classic Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special (Apple TV+)?
Crafts have always played a significant role for Thanksgiving, bringing joy and creativity to this cherished holiday. From handmade decorations adorning the festive table to heartfelt, homemade cards expressing gratitude, the artistry and personal touch of crafts add an extra layer of warmth and meaning to the celebrations.
- Turkey Hands - For families with young children, turkey hands are a must-have decoration. Simply trace each child's hand onto construction paper and have them decorate the fingers as feathers. Then, cut out a turkey body and glue it onto the handprint. Hang these adorable turkeys around the house for a personalized touch!
- Pilgrim Hats - Pilgrim hats can also be easily made with construction paper and used as a cute table centerpiece or festive accessory for the kids!
- Wreaths - These simple yet festive pieces add a touch of holiday spirit to any room. You can even make your own DIY wreath using items like leaves, pinecones, and berries.
- Pumpkins Everywhere - Pumpkins are another staple decoration, with their bright orange color and versatile use. You can paint, decorate, or even carve them to match your Thanksgiving theme. Kids will love getting involved in the decorating process, making it a fun family activity.
- Cinnamon Brooms for a Festive Scent - Another way to add some holiday cheer to your home is by incorporating cinnamon brooms into your decorations. Not only do they look cute hanging on a wall or door, but they also release a warm and inviting scent throughout your home. You can make your own by bundling cinnamon sticks together with twine.
Board and Card Games
Board games have made a comeback recently and are a great way to bring the whole family together. With more choices than ever, there really is a game out there for everyone!
- Classics like Monopoly, Scrabble, and Sorry are always crowd-pleasers.
- A couple of newer games for the whole family include Sequence and Mexican Train Dominoes.
- For a more adult-oriented game, try Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples for a kid-friendly version.
- If you're looking for something a little more strategic, games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Risk are great options that will keep the competitive spirit alive.
For the more technologically-inclined members of the family, video games are a great way to get the competitive juices flowing. The Nintendo Switch offers a variety of games that are perfect for all ages.
- Switch Sports will have the whole family on their feet competing in bowling and tennis.
- For younger kids, Minecraft is a popular choice that allows them to be creative and build their own virtual world.
- And for the little ones, the Australian cartoon phenomenon, Bluey, is releasing a game for Nintendo Switch on November 17th that is sure to be a hit.
If the weather permits, outdoor games can be a great way to get some fresh air and have fun with the family.
- Traditional Thanksgiving games like football, bags (cornhole), and ladder golf are always a hit.
- Try mixing it up with some lesser-known games like Washers or Spikeball.
- On the rare occasion Chicago weather goes crazy, a snowball fight can also be in order.
Cleaning Priorities Before Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate, often over a delicious meal. But before the festivities begin, it's important to make sure your home is clean and ready for guests. Here are some cleaning priorities to consider before Thanksgiving.
Before you can start cleaning, you have to get all of your tools together. Here is a list of everything you will need:
- 1 Duster
- 1 Apron
- 2 Agitation Tools, i.e. a toothbrush and plastic scraper
- 1 Broom
- 1 Vacuum
Now that you have your supplies, it’s time to learn some basic cleaning processes:
- Always clean via a circle. Dust everything around the outside. When done with the outside, work your way in and take care of anything in the center of the room.
- Always clean from the top down, brushing anything onto the floor.
- Leave the floors till the very end.
- Vacuum and mop (if applicable) when everything else has been taken care of.
When tackling a tough room that has stains such as a bathroom or kitchen, you must spray these spots first with your general cleaner. This will allow them time to soak and make them much easier to scrub, saving you from exerting too much energy.
Family Room/Main Gathering Area
The family room or main gathering area is where everyone will spend the most time, so it's important to prioritize cleaning this space. Start by tackling couches, cushions, and chairs – these often accumulate dust and crumbs over time. Next, wipe down tables, remotes, and TV screens to ensure they're clean and ready for use. Don't forget to vacuum the floors to remove any dirt or debris.
The main bathroom will see a lot of use during Thanksgiving, so it's important to make sure it's clean and well-stocked. Take the time to thoroughly clean toilets, sinks, mirrors, and tubs. Also, pay attention to the floors and rugs – they may need a good scrubbing or vacuuming!
The kitchen is where all the magic happens on Thanksgiving, so it's essential to give it a thorough cleaning. Start by cleaning the oven and stove – these will likely see a lot of use during meal preparation. Wipe down cabinets to remove any grease or grime buildup. Don't forget about the fridge – make sure it's organized and clean for storing leftovers. And of course, don't forget to wash any dishes, including special China and glasses. The microwave is also an important appliance to clean for reheating leftovers.
The dining room will be the focal point of your Thanksgiving meal, so it's important to make sure it's clean and inviting. Take the time to wipe down tables and wash tablecloths – these may have accumulated dust or food particles. Don't forget to clean and polish any chairs as well.
If you have guests staying overnight, it's important to make sure their bedrooms are clean and comfortable. This includes dusting dressers and desks, wiping down windows and shades, and ensuring the fan is free of dust. Also, don't forget to provide fresh sheets and towels for your guests!
Don't forget about the front entrance of your home! Pick up any trash or debris from the porch, and sweep away any dirt or leaves. Wipe down the front of the door.
Hiring a Professional Cleaning Service
If the thought of cleaning your entire house before Thanksgiving seems overwhelming, don't worry, help is available! Consider hiring a professional cleaning service like Fresh Tech Maid to take care of all your cleaning needs.
With our chemical-free cleanings, you won’t have to worry about any harsh chemical smells still lingering on the big day. Let the best house cleaning service in Chicago put your mind at ease so you can focus on spending time with family and friends instead of worrying about cleaning! Book your Pre-Thanksgiving cleaning today!
Beautiful decorations are absolutely necessary to set the perfect tone for a warm and welcoming home for Thanksgiving. From vibrant fall colors, to delightful centerpieces and whimsical autumn-inspired accents, every detail contributes to creating a truly enchanting atmosphere for this cherished holiday.
One of the most common Thanksgiving decorations is the classic cornucopia. This woven basket filled with fruits and vegetables adds a warm and welcoming touch to any home.
Festive Tablecloths and Signs
Make your dining table stand out with a festive tablecloth featuring fall colors or Thanksgiving-themed patterns. You can also add some fun signs to your home, such as "Thankful" or "Gather," to remind everyone of the holiday's meaning. These small touches will add a cozy and welcoming atmosphere to your home!
Don't Forget About Sweaters!
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to break out those cozy sweaters and show off your fall fashion. You can even have a fun contest among family members for who has the most festive sweater. It's a great way to add some laughter and lightheartedness to the holiday.
Easy Ways to Order Decorations
If you're short on time or prefer not to make your own decorations, there are plenty of options for ordering online. Websites like Etsy, Amazon, Target, and Temu offer a wide variety of Thanksgiving decorations that can be delivered right to your doorstep. You can even support small businesses by purchasing from independent sellers on these platforms.
Cleaning Priorities for After Thanksgiving
After the Thanksgiving festivities are over, it's time to tackle the aftermath of a messy house. With all the cooking, eating, and entertaining that happens during this holiday, it's no surprise that your home may need some extra attention. To make sure you don't miss any important cleaning tasks, we have listed out some cleaning priorities for the areas that are commonly used during Thanksgiving gatherings.
Family Room/Main Gathering Area
The family room or main gathering area is usually where everyone spends the most time during Thanksgiving. It's also the place where spills, crumbs, and stains are bound to happen. Vacuum any crumbs, pet hair, or debris from upholstered furniture. For stains on cushions and pillows, spot clean with your gentle cleaner. Wipe down all surfaces with your general cleaner to get rid of fingerprints and spills. Don't forget to clean the remote controls for the TV!
With multiple guests using your main bathroom, it's important to give it a deep clean after Thanksgiving. Scrub the toilets and sinks with a disinfectant cleaner. Sweep or vacuum the floors and shake out any small bathroom rugs. For tougher stains, spot clean with your general cleaner.
The kitchen is likely the area where most of the mess occurred during Thanksgiving. Now it's time to thoroughly clean it so that you can use it again for all your holiday baking needs. Use your kitchen cleaner to remove any stuck-on food or grease from the stovetop. Clean all cabinet doors and handles with a multi-surface cleaner. Remove all remaining Thanksgiving leftovers and disinfect the shelves and drawers using a disinfectant cleaner. Hand wash any delicate dishes or glasses, or load them into the dishwasher if they are dishwasher-safe. Wipe the inside of the microwave with a damp cloth to eliminate any food splatters.
The dining room is where you probably spent a lot of your time during Thanksgiving, so it's important to give it a good clean. Wipe down the table with a chemical free cleaner and wash any stained tablecloths. Use a microfiber cloth and all-purpose cleaner to wipe down chairs, paying special attention to any food or drink spills.
Bedrooms (if people are staying overnight)
If you had guests stay overnight for Thanksgiving, make sure to clean their rooms after they leave. Wash and change all bedding, towels, and linens used by your guests.
One of the most important tasks after Thanksgiving is to get rid of all the trash that has accumulated. Pick up all garbage from around the house and take it out to the curb for pickup or dispose of it in a designated trash area.
Hiring a Professional Cleaning Service
After the big day, you are tired and not going to feel like cleaning up. You can always hire a Chicago house cleaning service, like Fresh Tech Maid, to help with all your post-Thanksgiving cleaning needs. They have the experience and expertise to tackle any mess and leave your home sparkling clean. You can spend your time Black Friday shopping instead of cleaning.
So don't stress about cleaning up after the holiday - let Fresh Tech Maid take care of it for you! We're just a call or click away.
There has been a lot of information thrown at you which is why we want to make some recommendations that you can mix and match as you see fit:
Parents With Kids
- Focus on entertainment.
- Cook what you can, cater the rest
- Get alcohol delivered
- Hire a cleaning company
- Use the guide to stay organized
- Decide what to make from scratch and what to use premade items
- Meticulously clean the entire house one room at a time
Outsourcers (Perfect for seniors!)
- You don’t have to leave your couch.
- Everything is delivered directly to your door.
- Saves you the hassle of having to battle through crowded grocery stores.
- Have someone come clean your house for you
Hosting Thanksgiving can be quite an undertaking. From meticulously planning and shopping for the perfect feast, including a wide array of delectable food and carefully selected beverages, to adorning the house with delightful decorations that exude the warmth and spirit of the holiday season. Ensuring that your guests are thoroughly entertained with various activities and engaging conversations is paramount. And let's not forget about the significant pre-celebration task of meticulously cleaning every nook and cranny of your entire house, leaving it spotless and inviting for your cherished guests. All of this is enough to overwhelm anyone! Thankfully, we have simplified the process for you, laying out everything you need right here in this guide!