Thanksgiving Dinner Party Theme

Going along with my dinner party themes, and although this one is a bit late getting onto the blog (it’s a lot of work compiling all these ideas and sources), it is finally here. Hopefully it will help you just a little bit this year and perhaps you can bookmark this page and come back to it a month or so before Thanksgiving next year?

Thanksgiving heralds a great day for food, giving thanks, being with family and friends and of course, football. This dinner party will cover all that you need to entertain everyone coming to your house on Thanksgiving. You will probably want to begin prepping your house and food list several weeks in advance. Make sure every detail is complete and you will probably need to enlist the help of your immediate family. Let’s face it, it is a big undertaking. You might want to think about doing some of the prep the day before (that’s what my mother does), and leave the last minute prepping to your children or significant other, or whoever may be in your house when you are making this incredible feast. There is nothing more daunting than cooking and making a Thanksgiving dinner for your family, but doing it to where it turns into a dinner party for your friends and family. You do not want to be exhausted at the end of the night or half way through the meal that you throw in the towel. I know it’s exhausting, but you can do it. Plan carefully, get help when needed and take things one thing at a time. If something doesn’t come out just right, just move on and get on with life. Your friends and family will understand.


According to; in 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.

From another source: Thanksgiving Day has been an annual holiday in the United States since 1863. Not everyone sees Thanksgiving Day as a cause for celebration. Each year since 1970, a group of Native Americans and their supporters have staged a protest for a National Day of Mourning at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day. American Indian Heritage Day is also observed at this time of the year.

There are claims that the first Thanksgiving Day was held in the city of El Paso, Texas in 1598. Another early event was held in 1619 in the Virginia Colony. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. However, their first true thanksgiving was in 1623, when they gave thanks for rain that ended a drought. These early thanksgivings took the form of a special church service, rather than a feast.

In the second half of the 1600s, thanksgivings after the harvest became more common and started to become annual events. However, it was celebrated on different days in different communities and in some places there were more than one thanksgiving each year. George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789.



As a Guest:

  • RSVP. Tell them how many are coming in your family. Don’t bring uninvited guests.
  • Offer to contribute to the meal. If you or your ‘party’’ have special dietary needs, it is very gracious to offer to bring a dish that meets those needs.
  • Dress appropriately and take it up a notch. This shows respect towards the host and lets them feel appreciated.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Eat what you are served. Even if it is almost inedible. Be polite.
  • If your host has made the event into something more formal and has done such with the glasses and utensils on the table, then the general rule is to work from the outside in.
  • If you bring children, do not forget your parenting responsibilities.
  • Offer to clean-up. Family and non-family.
  • Avoid controversial or painful family subjects. This is a day to be together in a spirit of generosity and thankfulness for all you do have. Let it be so. This is not the time to bring it up. Doing so would cause a lot of painful memories for future family gatherings.
  • Don’t be greedy. Don’t bring your Tupperware containers expecting to bring home a lot of leftovers-even if you did bring the main entree. When the meal is ready, make sure everyone gets a chance to get a full plate of food, too. Don’t go back for seconds before some people even get their first plate of food. You may not get invited back next year. So keep the Tupperware at home and don’t be too selfish.
  • Leave on time.
  • Say thank you by either a phone call or hand written note.

As a Host:

  • Extend the invitation at least a month in advance, longer for those who might be traveling. If out-of-town guests are staying with you, set a beginning and an end for the visit. Three days is usually the optimum.
  • Be as accommodating as possible to ‘extras.’ “John and I would love to come, but our friend Tanya will be spending Thanksgiving alone – is it possible to include her?” If you have the room, of course they should bring Tanya! (Be creative – fit in as many as possible. This is the celebration that exemplifies the generous spirit!)
  • Have a flexible menu plan. Because Thanksgiving is a bit of a pot luck affair, be prepared to be “coordination central.” Accept all offers for special diet accommodations
  • Assign tasks. Greeters, hors d’ouevres passers, ‘bar tenders’, ‘circulators and introducers,’ servers – even though most guests may be family members, give them the red carpet treatment.
  • Take a tip from the airlines: serve and seat young children and the elderly first.
  • FHB – an acronym to be whispered to immediate family ONLY! FHB means “Family Hold Back.” If there is a critical shortage of a critical food item, discretely whisper to family members
  • Turn off the TV during Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving has been around long before football or television. Focus your attention where it belongs – on the lovingly prepared food, your family and your friends. When the dishes are done, EVERYONE can enjoy the games (or the chat in the other room!)
  • Determine if guests are entitled to leftovers-it is one of the best parts of Thanksgiving!
  • Have a back-up plan if you run out of turkey or your main entree.
  • Say thank you. Don’t forget to thank everyone who participated in the planning, cooking and cleaning up. And you may want to prepare and give out party gifts (see party gifts section).

 Thanksgiving Dinner Party Course Suggestions:

4 course dinner party

Beverages and cocktails

1st Course: Appetizers and Snacks

2nd Course: Soup and/or salad

3rd Course: Turkey/Ham or alternative with side dishes

4th Course: Desserts

Thanksgiving Dinner Party Theme Variations:

themes collage

There are so many themes you could with Thanksgiving. Here are just a few that I have chosen.

Thankful Theme:

thankful dinner party

Rooms For Rent

Faux Bois



Style Me Pretty

Warmth and Harvest Party


Better Homes and Gardens



Three Pixie Lane

Pumpkins and Pine cones


Hostess with the Mostess



My Finer Consigner



Eat Drink Pretty

Progressive Dinner Party


She Knows

Leftover Party

Thanksgiving Leftovers - 1

Kitchen Daily

Attire: It will be semi-casual usually.

For men-


For Women-


For Children-

For Boys-


For Girls-



Music: Christmas music or classical music will do.

Thanksgiving playlist

Bliss Roots: Thanksgiving Playlist


Earth tones, Christmas decorations, pumpkins, turkeys, cornacopias, football, wreath, tablesetting ideas, napkin folding, centerpieces are just some of the suggestions for a decor theme and of course that is based off of the theme you have chosen.

This is certainly not a complete collection of all the ideas that are out there. You should google thanksgiving decor ideas or look it up on pinterest.

decor collage

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Earthy Tabletop via Rue Mag
  2. Pumpkin Tablescape via Homeward Found Decor
  3. Harvest Feast Branches via Martha Stewart
  4. Harvest Centerpiece via Martha Stewart
  5. Pumpkin Basket via Martha Stewart
  6. Cork Board Leaf Trivets via Martha Stewart
  7. Wishbone Napkin Rings via Martha Stewart
  8. Wishbone Napkin Charms via Martha Stewart

Party Favors:

(this is optional but you may want to give something to any children who may attend) or just send leftovers home with your guests. Small pies, other desserts.

 There are so many ideas out there that you can find them easily online.

party favors collage

  1. Burlap Bag Party Favors by Think Garnish
  2. Spice rub via pinterest:For Thanksgiving one year, everyone brought a different spice. Then we mixed them all together in a bowl, and then divided the mixture into the spice jars that everyone had come with. We put labels on the jars that said, “Liebman Family Spice Rub.” It was a great Thanksgiving Dinner party favor.
  3. Thanksgiving Chocolate Bars by Birds Party
  4. Glass Trivet Favors by Better Homes and Gardens


  entertainment collage

Card Games

A Christmas Story

Watch Football

Kids can color or play with playdough


You pick the seating arrangement and make sure to place nameplates at each seat. The kids can even have their own table. (see kids section)

place cards collage

Numbered top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Sweet Gum Tree Spurs via Martha Stewart
  2. Wheat Place Cards via Camille Styles
  3. Pear Place Cards via Martha Stewart
  4. Candy Bar Place Cards via Doll House Bake Shoppe
  5. Pie Crust Place Markers by You Are My Fav
  6. Name Card in a Nutshell via Martha Stewart
  7. Rosemary Wreath Place Cards via Spoon Fork Bacon
  8. Stitched Name Cards via Martha Stewart

Kids Table:

Place craft paper and cups of crayons on the table so that the children can feel free to doodle while they are waiting to be served or after they have ate.

Lucky Boy has put together a nice post about Thanksgiving Kids Tables.

kids table collage

  1. Kraft Paper and Crayon Station by Project Nursery
  2. Turkey Leg Place Holder and Party Favor via Fiskars
  3. Centerpiece by Martha Stewart
  4. Activity Place Mat by Embellish Goods

Links to Printables:

 Caravan Shoppe


Your Home Based Mom


Tater Tots and Jello

I Heart Nap Time

Josie Jones


First Thanksgiving Meal Kit



Appetizers and Snacks:

Thanksgiving Appetizers for Dinner Party

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Toasted Pumpkin Seeds 3 ways by 101 Cookbooks
  2. Cranberry Orange Brie Crostini by Two Peas and Their Pod
  3. Baked Sweet Potato Chips by Minimalist Baker
  4. Mini Pumpkin Cheeseballs by Kitchen Simplicity
  5. Savory Cranberry, Pistachio, Goat cheese Palmiers by Cookin’ Canuck
  6. Proscuitto Wrapped Aspaargus by Eat Drink Paelo
  7. Goat Cheese with Fresh Dill by Foodnetwork
  8. Cheese Straws by Martha Stewart


thanksgiving beverages 2

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Mulled Cranberry Cocktail by Martha Stewart
  2. Gingersnap Cocktail by Yum Sugar
  3. Mock Tea Sangria on My Recipes
  4. Spicy Hot Chocolate by
  5. Apple Pie Spiced Hot Cider by Martha Stewart
  6. Coconut Eggnog on My Recipes
  7. Poinsettia Slipper on My Recipes
  8. Cinnamon Coffee by Better Homes and Gardens
  9. Thanksgiving Punch on My Recipes
  10. Fuji Apple Soda by Food and Wine
  11. Italian Barbera Wine on Bon Appetit

Soup Course:

thanksgiving soups 2

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Sage by Foodie Crush
  2. Jamaican Carrot Soup by Food and Wine
  3. Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Chorizo Bread Crumbs by Food and Wine
  4. Purple Sweet Potato Soup by Family Spice
  5. Root Vegetable Soup by Food and Wine
  6. Carrot, Squash and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with White Beans by Food and Wine
  7. Butternut Squash Soup with Minted Sour Cream by Suburble
  8. Sweet Potato and Apple Soup by Food and Wine

Salad Course:

thanksgiving salad 2

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Chopped Cucumber, Pear and Fennel Salad by Bon Appetit
  2. Broccoli Romanesco with Green Herb Sauce on My Recipes

  3. Tuscan Kale Caesar with Millet Croutons by Feasting At Home
  4. Autumn Arugula Salad with Caramelized Squash + Pomegranate Ginger Vinaigrette by How Sweet It Is
  5. Fall Harvest Salad by Jessie Monds
  6. French Lentil Vegetable Salad by In Pursuit of More
  7. Roasted Beet and Farro Salad by 10th Kitchen
  8. Mandarin Orange Salad from Colorado Cache by Creative Culinary
  9. Winter Chopped Salad by With Style and Grace Blog
  10. Squash and Root Vegetable Slaw by Bon Appetit

Main course:


Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

Includes all the various cooking methods:

  1. Roast SpatchCocked Turkey by Martha Stewart
  2. Fresh Herb Salt Rubbed Roast Turkey by Fine Cooking
  3. True Love Roast-Source: Daily Mail-UK (Dubbed the True Love Roast because it contains a different bird for each of the 12 days of Christmas, the roast costs around $1300 and serves 125 people. It also takes over 8 hours to cook completely and 4 hours to assemble)
  4. Roasted Heritage Turkey by The Daily Green
  5. Cheesecloth Turkey by Michael Symon
  6. Smoked Turkey via Chow
  7. Jaimie Olivers Turkey Wellington by Inspiring Gastronomy
  8. Kale and Sausage Stuffed Turkey Breast by Martha Stewart
  9. Beer Can Turkey by Cat Cora via Food Network
  10. Spice Rubbed Turkey by Taste of Home
  11. Fried Turkey via Chow
  12. Wine Smoked Turkey via My Recipes
  13. A Simple Roast Turkey via Bon Appetit
  14. Brined Turkey by Alton Brown via Food Network
  15. Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey by She Wears Many Hats
  16. Slow Cooker  Turkey Breast by Taste of Home
  17. Turkey Breast Stuffed with Apples, Cranberries and Pecans via The Italian Dish Blog
  18. Turkducken by All That Cooking

 How to Carve A Turkey via Food Network


turkey alteratives

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Roasted Lobsters with Verjus and Tarragon by Food and Wine
  2. Crown Roast of Pork via Simply Recipes
  3. Dr. Pepper Glazed ham with Prunes via Food and Wine
  4. Best Thanksgiving Ham via Esquire
  5. Sichuan Racks of Lamb with Cumin and Chile Peppers by Food and Wine
  6. Prime Rib via Martha Stewart
  7. Cranberry Stuffed Cornish Hens via Martha Stewart
  8. Herbed Pork Rib Roast by Food and Wine
  9. Garlic Studded Herb Roast Beef by Life Ambrosia
  10. Cornish Hens with Rice and Mushrooms via Delish
  11. Perfect Roast Chicken via Martha Stewart
  12. Slow Roasted Duck with Green Olives and Herbes de Provence by Food and Wine
  13. Pomegranate Jalapeno Glazed Ham via Food and Wine
  14. Crown Roast of Pork with Onion and Bread Crumb Stuffing by Epicurious
  15. Pork Roast with Lady Apples and Pears by Martha Stewart
  16. Lobster Stuffed Crab Imperial by Delish
  17. Whole Roasted Salmon with Orange Butter Glaze by Martha Stewart
  18. Maple Balsamic Roasted Duck by Spoon Fork Bacon
  19. Pepper and Mint Roasted Chicken by Food and Wine
  20. Mussels in White Wine by Delish
  21. Fennel Garlic Roasted Pork by Food and Wine
  22. Slow Roasted Salmon with Tamarind, Ginger and Chipotle by Food and Wine
  23. Soy Ginger Lacquered Cornish Game Hens by Food and Wine
  24. Three Ingredient Prime Rib Roast by Food and Wine
  25. Standing Rib Roast of Beef by Food and Wine
  26. Cranberry Spinach Stuffed Pork Loin by DJ Foodie


condiments collage

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Ginger Orange Cranberry Sauce by Oh My Veggies
  2. Raspberry Cranberry Sauce by A Spicy Perspective
  3. Homemade Butter by Fine Dining Lovers
  4. Fancy Butter Recipes by A Beautiful Mess
  5. Sweet and Spicy Grape Chutney by Food52
  6. Bourbon Gravy by Martha Stewart
  7. Cranberry Port Gelee by Food52
  8. Hard Cider Gravy by Bon Appetit


Side Dishes:

sides collage

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Smoky Chorizo Stuffing by Food and Wine
  2. Stuffing on a Stick by Paula Deen
  3. Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles by Farm Flavor
  4. Mashed Potatoes with Bacon and Caramelized Onions by Cookin’ Canuck
  5. Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes by Add A Pinch
  6. Muffin Pan Potato Gratins by Martha Stewart
  7. Duchess Potatoes by The Pioneer Woman
  8. Balsamic Roasted Carrots and Parsnips via My Recipes
  9. Bread Wreath by Martha Stewart (I call it a Breath)
  10. Deviled Eggs By Food Network
  11. Pumpkin Dinner Rolls by Beyond Kimchee
  12. Roasted Vegetable Strudel with Red Peppers Coulis Via



desserts collage 2

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears by Martha Stewart
  2. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffles by Whole Foods Market
  3. Deep Dish Pumpkin-Meringue Pie by Martha Stewart
  4. Shingled Crust Brandy Apple Pie by Licking The Plate
  5. Chocolate Pecan Cheesecake by Roxana’s Home Baking
  6. Bake A Cake Inside A Pumpkin by A Subtle Revelry
  7. Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle by Taste of Home
  8. Inside-Out Apple Crisp by My Baking Addiction
  9. Apple Cider Caramels by Blondie’s Cakes and Things
  10. Cranberry Mint Mousse by A Happy Healthnut
  11. Apple Pie Cookies by Oh Bite It
  12. Skinny Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake Squares by SkinnyTaste
  13. Mini Pumpkin Cakes via My Recipes
  14. Gingersnap Spiced Mini Pumpkin Pies by Pass The Sushi 


Kid Friendly:

kid friendly collage

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. High-Wire Haricots Verts via My Recipes
  2. Purple Sweet Potato Soup by Family Spice
  3. Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry “Ice Cream” Mashed Potatoes via
  4. Thanksgiving Leaf and Pumpkin Dinner Rolls by Hungry Happenings
  5. Turkey Spinach Sliders by Bon Appetit
  6. Sweet Potato Casserole Bites by Dine and Dish
  7. Veggie Pizza Leaves by Hungry Happenings
  8. Pumpkin Pie Bites by Bakerella


Vegetarian or Vegan (meatless):

meatless collage

Numbered top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Vegetarian Pate by Martha Stewart
  2. Warm Quinoa, Spinach and Shitake Salad by Martha Stewart
  3. Wild Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna by Martha Stewart
  4. Raw Pumpkin Cranberry Ginger Parfaits by Rawmazing
  5. Roasted Domino Potatoes by Epicurious
  6. Pumpkin Custard Torte by Lauren Groveman
  7. Browned Butter and Hazelnut Mashed Potatoes via My Recipes
  8. Vegan Mushroom Gravy via Chow
  9. Wild Rice Stuffed Squash by Martha Stewart
  10. Stuffed Pumpkin via The Kitchn
  11. Broccolini and Feta Galette by Martha Stewart
  12. Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna by Martha Stewart


leftovers collage

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Turkey Cobb Salad by Martha Stewart
  2. Turkey Tortilla Soup by Serious Eats
  3. Extra Veggie Frittata via Food Network
  4. After Thanksgiving Pizzas via My Recipes
  5. Leftover Thanksgiving Sushi and Crostini by Bev Cooks
  6. Cranberry Pie by Country Living
  7. Turkey BLT by Martha Stewart
  8. Turkey Bisque Soup by Your Home Based Mom
  9. Leftover Crockpot Turkey Chili by Passion for Savings
  10. Thanksgiving Turkey Cake via Chow
  11. Green Bean Casserole Sandwich via My Recipes

Use these printables so you can put them on the take-home boxes that you give guests as party favors:

The TomKat Studio

The Kitchn


Party Mostess

Martha Stewart

Food Network


My Pinterest Thanksgiving Dinner Party Board













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