Easy Savvy And Fun Thanksgiving Ideas- The Ultimate Guide

Discover the Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide: Master the art of holiday feasting, from mouthwatering recipes to hosting tips, with our comprehensive Thanksgiving Guide. Elevate your celebration and create unforgettable memories this season.


Let’s talk about Thanksgiving ideas! The big day is coming fast! I love love love Thanksgiving! And that means lots of family, celebrating, food, and fun for most of us! It’s that All-American holiday that comes along in late fall every year, drawing us together in a collective spirit of gratitude!

Let’s be truthful, along with all the gratitude, love, and fun comes lots and lots of work! This Thanksgiving Guide is dedicated to help you create the best Thanksgiving for your friends and family without being stressed! It’s loaded with tons of tips and Thanksgiving ideas for the hostess and the guest alike! Here’s how to celebrate Thanksgiving in style and ease! 

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Hey friends, I reprised the images of one of my very favorite Thanksgiving tablescapes on the patio at StoneGable. I thought you might like to revisit this pretty table, but with lots of tips to help you pull off a fabulous Thanksgiving without wearing yourself out!

Th Thanksgiving Guide is full of tablescape ideas and a big mish-mosh of other tips and traditions!

Thanksgiving Ideas For Your Table

Plan out your Thanksgiving table early! Actually, plan every part of Thanksgiving early. Even if you are not hosting Thanksgiving this year, plan on calling your host and asking how you can help!

But if you are hosting Thanksgiving, one of my best tips is to plan your table and menu early. Actually, right now!

Let’s talk about your table…


Set your Thanksgiving table, take pictures of every detail, and deconstruct it. Put all the tableware, from plates to flatware to glasses, in dish pans and stash them in your laundry room, garage, or even under your bed. Just think how easy it will be to pull everything out and set your Thanksgiving table!

Believe me, this is a genius Thanksgiving idea! Thanksgiving is a very beautiful All-American holiday but a very work-intensive holiday! And setting a table and stashing everything away will make your life so much easier when Thanksgiving rolls around, and you are ready to set your table!


Here’s another Thanksgiving idea for your table. Set your table a couple days before Thanksgiving! There’s enough to do on Turkey Day!


If you are using real leaves, cut them on Thanksgiving morning and put them in a big bucket of water in your garage or outside near your home. Keep them cool and submerged in water! 

Cut branches will last several hours on your table before they begin to curl. But they look so glorious!


The Best Thanksgiving Tip You Will Ever Get

If someone asks to help… SAY YES!!!!!

Many hands make light work! Take that to the bank! Work and chat and nibble and have fun! Crank up the music and dance!

And if you are going to someone’s home for Thanksgiving, lend a hand. My mother’s Thanksgiving gift to me is to help wash the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner. No one is more in charge of a sink full of bubbles than her! And we are so thankful for her dishwashing talents!

If you let someone help, others will want to join in, too! In our home, we love putting everyone to work!

I’m usually so busy with dinner that when someone asks me if they can help, it is often hard to think what job to give them, so I make a list ahead of time of the little things my guests can help out with, like a cheat sheet, so it makes it easy for me to let people know how they can help.

Things like…

  • Be a guest greeter.
  • Chop vegetables.
  • Grab any glasses that have been abandoned and take them to the kitchen.
  • Get things out of the refrigerator.
  • Help set up the drink, coffee, dessert, or appetizer bar.
  • Put ice and water in the glasses.
  • Light the candles.
  • Say grace.

A Seasonal Tablecloth

Here’s another Thanksgiving idea that is so smart and creative! Instead of a tablecloth, think about using a blanket or decorative throw on your Thanksgiving table. It is the perfect background for a warm, natural look! I have two Ancient Buchanan wool tartans to go on the table this year. Because they are so colorful, I’m keeping the rest of my table very simple!


Serving Buffet Style Or At The Table

I usually serve Thanksgiving buffet style. That way, I can decorate my table without worrying about where platters and bowls will go. If you are serving a big meal with lots and lots of dishes, think about buffet style! Coordinate your buffet with some of the same elements that are on your table. I’ll be adding lots of these saturated ash leaves in glass cylinders to the buffet!

I love stacking dishes at each place setting, but this outdoor Thanksgiving table is set with one dinner plate that can be taken from the table to the buffet line. If you need another plate for salad or dessert, keep them at the buffet.


You know you don’t have to put all the food out on a buffet all at once. Consider serving the salad, bread, etc, first on the buffet. And then the big meal and then follow it with dessert. Also, think about a pop-up bar (my favorite) and dessert bar somewhere away from the kitchen.

We often serve dessert much later in the evening with some great cocktails! In between dinner and dessert, we clean up the dishes and reset a simple table for yummy dessert! Dessert served by candlelight is one of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions.

Smart Ways To Include More People

Here’s another great idea for serving a big crowd. If you don’t have room to ask your friends and extended family over for the main Thanksgiving meal, have them over for Thanksgiving dessert later Thanksgiving evening!

We have done this in the past, and it is so much fun! Most of the time, our friends offer to bring a dessert, and we end up with the most scrumptious selections of goodies!

Set Up Food And Drink Stations

And speaking of dessert, I usually have dessert set up in my dining area. I add a bar cart to the corner and put all the desserts on it.

Drinks are usually set up on the far end of our extended countertop in the kitchen, and the Thanksgiving buffet is in the kitchen. Use your house to set up different stations! This works amazingly well and prevents all your guests from gathering in one place, usually the kitchen.

And if someone asks to help, manning the drink or dessert station is an easy job to give them, and it’s fun! They will probably be the most popular person at Thanksgiving dinner!

Spend Time Around The Table

I’m not a fan of eating and running on Thanksgiving! Sitting, talking, and enjoying one another over a meal and good libations is important! Thanksgiving is a meal to linger over!


We love Table Topics, a box of questions with fun and interesting questions for guests around your table to ask and answer. Table topics would make a great hostess gift.

This meal is also a good time to go around the table and talk about all the things we are Thankful for. We quite often use The Legends Of The 5 Kernels of Corn to give us a visual reminder of our blessings.

Lend Your Dishes

If you are a guest for Thanksgiving dinner, it might be nice to check with the hostess and see if she could use some of your dishes or serving pieces. We do this in our family when we all get together!  Collectively, we have a gorgeous and amazing stash!!!!!

Mix And Match Dishes

If you don’t have enough of one kind of dishes for your Thanksgiving table mix and match what you have. Setting a table with a few different dish patterns that work well together is always gorgeous! This is my favorite way to set a table!

A Most Thoughtful Hostess Gift

If you are a guest this year, why not send your hostess a set of eight pretty dessert plates? Send them now so she can use them on Thanksgiving day!


12 Tips To Be The Best Thanksgiving Guest is filled with practical ideas.

Paper Products

Sometimes, we need permission to use paper products. So here it is…

Paper products are a great alternative to real dishes when feeding a crowd. It’s absolutely fine!

There are so many fabulous styles and motifs of paper products geared towards Thanksgiving! If it makes your life easier, just do it!

Last year, I used paper everything from Sophistaplates. My table was seriously beautiful! And clean up was insanely easy! We just threw all the tableware (except the flatware) away. I even had plates for the grandkids for breakfast all weekend. Everyone loved the different styles I chose!

This year, I’m going back to the real thing, but I’m also using some pretty paper products for appetizers, drinks, and desserts.

Do what you like and what works best for you! Don’t stress yourself out over the little details! Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, not to have your last nerve plucked! 

Here’s another idea if you are a guest: send your hostess some gorgeous matching paper products! She will be thrilled!


Simple Is Best

When decorating your Thanksgiving table, think “simple”! I love to set very elaborate tables, but I think less is best for Thanksgiving!

I cut these brilliant golden branches from the ash tree in StoneGable’s front yard. Only leaves and pumpkins for this table. So easy to put together! I scattered some leaves on the table and added some to different glass cylinders to make a bountiful centerpiece!

I collected the white pumpkins I’d used for fall decorating from around StoneGable and concentrated them on the table! This was a very easy table to set.


Styling A Thanksgiving Centerpiece

A Thanksgiving centerpiece is the star of your table decor!

Keep a centerpiece low enough so your guests can see over it to talk. One tall glass cylinder has a few ash branches on the table, but it is wispy enough to see through it.


Good Food And Good Conversation

It’s important that everyone has a chance to participate in the conversation around your table at Thanksgiving. So, give everyone time to engage. This can be quite a balancing act! It’s important to engage everyone around your Thanksgiving table! A good hostess draws out the quieter guests and gives the attention-grabbing one a job to do so he/she does not steal the spotlight all dinner long!

The Thanksgiving table is a wonderful place to learn your family’s history. Let the older generations tell stories and answer questions. It was at a Thanksgiving table long ago I learned that I come from the royal line of Gypsies! We have murderers and horse thieves in our family! And as my Nani told it, that is what made us royalty! Thankfully, we are no longer a practicing branch of gypsy royalty!

One year, everyone at the table wrote 3 things on a card we would like someone to pray for on our behalf during the year and three things we are thankful for. Everyone picked one card, prayed for those specific prayer requests, and thanked God for those things we are grateful for. Just before Thanksgiving the next year, I got a beautiful note from one of the guests at our table saying he was blessed to pray for me all year long. What a treasure!


Make A List

Always start your Thanksgiving day planning early. Like right now! Use your mobile, laptop, or good old paper and pencil! I like to use graph paper to make a timeline, menu, shopping list, guest list, and anything else I need to remember!

There is just something so rewarding about ticking something off my list!

Overnight Guests

Because we have out-of-town family, I usually have a house of guests from the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving until the following Sunday or Monday. Here are some tips for hosting overnight guests…

If at all possible, have someone come in and clean your home and guest rooms right before Thanksgiving! I know it’s an extra expense, but with all a hostess has to do, it’s worth it! This keeps me sane! I have a friend who knows my home inside and out, and she helps me!

Self Serve

Set up a self-serve continental breakfast and or coffee on Thanksgiving morning. This is so smart! Making breakfast for a crowd is hard when stuffing a turkey with filling! I you want to make something like Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake or other Quick Breads, make them now and freeze them.


If you are an overnight guest during Thanksgiving, volunteer to bring in and set up a continental breakfast. It would be such a help to your hostess. Just discuss this in advance! No surprises!


Thanksgiving means leftovers! Everyone loves them! I usually make an additional small turkey a couple days before Thanksgiving to make sure I have enough turkey and stuffing for leftovers! I also like to send my guest home with a small bag of Thanksgiving leftovers! Chinese food containers work brilliantly for leftovers!

Stock up on lots and lots of baggies, aluminum, foil, plastic wrap, and containers for leftovers! Add those to your grocery list now!

Thanksgiving Traditions

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions? Traditions are the glue that helps to hold families together. We have several that make Thanksgiving all the more meaningful, and it delights me that our children are teaching our grandbabies to look forward to them, too.

Other Thanksgiving Ideas

Here are some other savvy things to think about

Don’t cook every meal if you have overnight guests! Eat out at least once and get take-out for another meal. Thanksgiving is such a huge meal. Let some of the other meals be easy!

Start your Christmas season on Thanksgiving weekend. Share a Christmas outing together and take lots of pictures. One year, when my sister was hosting Thanksgiving, we all went on a Christmas candlelight tour of Mount Vernon. Another year, we went to the Ford Theater to see A Christmas Carol. It was spectacular! Big or small, the point is to be together and transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas!

Don’t forget to play some amazing Christmas music! 


Here are some nice things a guest can do if they are staying overnight:

  • Ask your hostess if you can strip the bed and take the bedding and towels down to the laundry room before leaving!
  • Leave a little Christmas gift or the hostess in your room.
  • Empty the trash in the bathroom.
  • If you have your own bathroom, give it a “swish and swipe” before leaving.
  • Be the designated dishwasher for the Thanksgiving meal.
  • Bring a beautiful live Christmas wreath for your host’s front door.
  • Take your hosts out to dinner over the weekend and pick up the tab.
  • Leave a beautiful Christmas book with a thank you note inside!

Just writing this post has me so excited and inspired for Thanksgiving! I wish you and all who grace your Thanksgiving table a very blessed and joyous Thanksgiving!

And if you are reading this, you are on my list of “things to be thankful for” this year. I love you all and am deeply thankful for your loyalty to StoneGable and, friendship to me!

Click For More Inspiration

12 Tips For Being The Best Thanksgiving Guest

A Few Of My Favorite Things- The Thanksgiving Edition

25 Easy And Cozy Thanksgiving Ideas

How To Host Thanksgiving In A Small Space

Easy To Make Thanksgiving Placemat From A Decorative Throw Blanket


Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!

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  1. Wonderful and helpful prep ideas to insure a less stressful holiday. Thanks for sharing, Yvonne. Very sorry for your loss. May all the love and kindness you shared with your sister, throughout the years, bring comfort to you now. Sending hugs.

    1. So sweet Jane! Losing my sister has left a huge void in my life. I’m still trying to feel my way through each day.

  2. Yvonne, great post! What are some of tge adter dinner cocktails you serve with dessert?

    1. That is my husband’s domain! We love anything with Bourbon! And Manhattans are a big favorite too. I like anything with lots of effervescence, like Dry Sack sherry and club soda. I’m not much of a drinker because booze makes me tired.

  3. This was one of the best posts of yours I’ve read. The emphasis on ease, family, snd traditions make for a great thanksgiving. Keeping things simple eases the pressure and enables everyone to enjoy the holiday snd each other. I especially like the Black Friday idea snd the year-long prayers.

    1. Oh, I am thrilled this post is helpful Laura! Thanksgiving is so special and I hope everyone can make the best memories during this holiday.

  4. Debbie Melvin says:

    Would you be so kind to share your list of questions for conversation starters? Thank you! Everything is lovely as usual.

  5. Sharon G. says:

    Yvonne – A Thanksgiving (or any large gathering) tip you shared several years ago, is one of the best tips for the host/hostess, your soapy dishpan tip. I use this method each year I have hosted Thanksgiving. Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!!

    1. I do still use my sudsy dishpans! I’m so glad they work for you too! Happy fall!

  6. I’m very sorry for the loss of your sister.. I lost my oldest daughter in March.. difficult to fill that space.

  7. My favorite ever post
    Great idea to have suggestions for guests as well as hosts. Now I can’t wait!

  8. Barbara C says:

    This post has so much good information–thank you! I’m sorry for the loss of your dear sister. I just said a little prayer for you.

    1. Thank you, Barbara! It’s been a hard couple months. Prayers are much needed.

  9. Loved everything about this post! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I love all these prompts and ideas to help get me in the planning mode. So very sorry to hear about your loss, happy to hear you have wonderful memories, but doesn’t take away from the sting of loss. Best wishes to you and your family for healing as you work through your grief.

  10. Marilynn Vannelli says:

    Just wanted to say that I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. I hope that you will be uplifted by the rest of your beautiful family, and your family traditions. This is a beautiful post. As always, thank you for sharing.

  11. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    Yvonne, I am so sorry to read about your dear sister. Sisters are so precious. I just stopped and prayed that God will wrap His arms of comfort around you and give you peace in knowing that you will see her again one day in heaven. May you be blessed with many precious memories.

    Thanks for all the great ideas you have given us. Our Thanksgiving is over but will put some of your great ideas in place for our Christmas.

    Have a blessed week.

    1. Thank you so much, Mary Ann! I still can’t believe she is gone. But I am greatly comforted that she claimed Jesus as her Lord and is with Him. You are so sweet to pray for me. Thank you, again!

  12. Thank you for all of the wonderful tips for both the hostess and as the guest. I want to extend my sincere sympathy in the passing of your only sister. I cannot imagine how painful this is. I only have one sister, and she experienced a heart attack a year ago-so time with her is even more precious now.

  13. Yvonne, thank you so much for this post. I love reading your ideas for thanksgiving what a blessing you are to all. I am so sorry to hear about your sisters passing you are on my prayers. Love and prayers for the holiday season!! ?❤️

    1. Thank you Terri, this year has been a pretty tough one for me, but I have so many things to be thankful for.

  14. Jan Brown says:

    WONDERFUL POST! So many great ideas. Second year in a row I am hosting Thanksgiving, and there is so much valuable information to use. Thank you!

  15. This was a fun and suggestion filled piece to read. Many families have Thanksgiving weekend traditions and ours was started long ago by my mother( since passed ❤️). The grands 3 come the morning after Thanksgiving and put up and decorate our Christmas tree. It is a fun day filled with laughter, love, much chatter and is topped off with dinner with our leftovers with more laughter, fun and love served along with the yummy leftovers from our Thanksgiving meal. Gives daughter & son-in-law the day for themselves. Grands are now 20,16,12 but still they tell me the best day of the year that look forward to no matter their age. I then take photos and choose my fav for my Christmas cards. My cards are titled “Mimi’s Elves”. Family is precious and I am thankful mine are nearby for moments like these.

    1. Traditions are the glue that holds families together. So glad you shared yours. Thanks!

  16. Thank you for your post….getting me in the mood for my favorite holiday! I love your table. Here in Phoenix we always have outdoor TG, but no deciduous trees, so I had to buy fake leaves and branches! I am so sorry for your your loss. That sister bond is so powerful. I hope your happy memories bring you comfort this season.

  17. Yvonne, you are so right about lists! My best ‘friend’ on Thanksgiving and oither times of special gatheings. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  18. Dearest Yvonne,
    My deepest condolences on the loss of your beautiful sister.
    I truly always enjoy your newsletters/posts. They are quite lovely (both pics & texts) to read and gain inspiration.
    Thank you for all that you do.
    Have a wonderful holiday season.
    Much love.🥰💕💕💕💕💕