How to Host a Simple Real-Life Thanksgiving

I love family get togethers, but even more I love simple and easy family get togethers. Especially when I am pregnant (aka: fat and lazy with a real excuse this time!). Everyone else in the blogging world seems to be posting all of their super cute, but overdone holiday plans. I sometimes do cute crafts and things, but our dinners are usually very simple and easy. Even when I don’t have the pregnancy excuse. I wanted to show you what we will be doing to make things simple and easy this year.

Rule #1: Delegate! Have guests bring their favorite dish. Some are still going to be cooked at my house but they are bringing everything and doing the cooking of their dish.

Rule #2: Anything from scratch can/should be prepared ahead. Yes, it’s pretty much too late to prepare ahead. Go buy some boxed/canned/frozen stuff instead. You can say you made it from scratch. I won’t tell…plus you did “Scratch the box open!”

Our Thanksgiving Menu:
Veggie Platter (Brought by Dad)
Turkey (Cooked in a Bag, Once it’s in the oven I don’t have to worry until the timer goes off)
Gravy (The package that comes inside the turkey or powdered but with the broth from the turkey)
Green Chile Cheese Tamales (Prepared Yesterday, Just need to steam them)
Mashed Potatoes (Brought by Mother-in-law)
Sweet Potatoes (Brought by Dad)
Cooked Veggies (Brought by Mother-in-law)
Stuffing (From a box)
Cranberry Sauce (From a can)
Rolls (Brought by Dad)

Apple Pie (Frozen)
Pumpkin Pie (Brought by Dad or Sisters)
Chocolate Mousse Praline Pecan Pie (Brought by Dad or Sisters)

Rule #3: Don’t decorate. Unless you decorated at the beginning of the month.

My decorations are minimal. I would love to add to them, but not this year. I decorate my table with the food, that’s all anyone wants to see anyway! This year the only decoration I made was this basket, and I still have a few little pumpkins out from Halloween. (See my tutorials on creating easy fabric pumpkins and a fabric pumpkin basket)

Rule #4: Use “Fancy Dishes” We use “fancy dishes” meaning we get paper plates and cups.

There are enough dishes from making the food that I don’t want to add to the work when we are done eating. Throw out the dishes and sit and relax. Spend time talking with everyone and enjoying their company.

Rule #5: Accept guest’s help when they offer. Or if you are close enough to them, just demand their help!

I try to have all of my tupperware clean and ready (but still tucked away in the cupboard), ziplock bags in an easy-to-get to spot and have a stack of clean butter tubs or other “disposable containers” ready so that after dinner when people want to help clean up I can say here you go, fill these up and put them away. The disposable containers and ziplock bags are perfect for sending food home with guests because they won’t have to worry about returning your tupperware.

I will also put people to work with wiping off counters and putting dishes in the dishwasher. I try to make sure the dishwasher is empty before everyone comes over too.

It can be stressful to host Thanksgiving or any big get together, but if you plan on making it easy for yourself and everyone else it can be a nice relaxing holiday to spend time with family and friends instead of being stuck in the kitchen cooking, cleaning and decorating.

Check out these great and easy dinner ideas for Turkey leftovers!

{Thanksgiving After Party} How to Use Turkey Leftovers

12+ Dinner Ideas Using Leftover Turkey
Thanksgiving is just two weeks away! Need ideas to use your leftover turkey in? Well I have plenty of ideas! I usually buy a second turkey to cook another time just so that I have the leftovers, a turkey around Thanksgiving is usually the cheapest meat per ounce you can buy. My basic idea is that I can use turkey instead of chicken for almost any recipe. Instead of “Winner, winner chicken dinner” we’re saying “Winner, winner turkey dinner”!

Salad with Turkey by Monzanitas on InstagramOn a Salad

Salads are always better with some tuna or chicken shredded on them, so why not try turkey instead. The same goes for a chicken salad sandwich, just make it a turkey salad sandwich.
I love casseroles as long as they are super moist and creamy. You could make up your own casserole by using some noodles, turkey and cream of chicken soup and whatever else you want to add. With some interesting spices it can be a great combination!

Turkey and Noodles

This is a family favorite of turkey noodle soup. Usually it doesn’t come out soupy so we just call it Turkey and Noodles. It is delicious, and a great way to warm up on a cold day.

Ever had a Barbecue Chicken Pizza? They areĀ amazing, especially the way I make them! If you want to take the easy road, they sell pizza dough already made in a can. All you have to do is roll it out and add your own toppings. It’s personalized and takes about the same time as delivery.

Turkey and Broccoli Alfredo
This recipe is the one on this list that I haven’t tried yet. I saw it on Pinterest and I had to add it to this list. I love making Alfredo because I usually buy jarred sauce but I never thought of adding turkey and broccoli to it. It sounds delicious!

Turkey Sandwiches
There’s the classic After Thanksgiving Sandwich, usually made with all the leftovers but to mix it up some you could try making a BBQ Turkey Sandwich (I make mine like a pulled pork sandwich) or you could try a Turkey Salad Sandwich.

Cajun Chicken Alfredo15 Minute Cajun Turkey Alfredo
My husband loves our version of Cajun Chicken Alfredo. When we make it with pre-cooked chicken or turkey we just add the Cajun seasoning to the alfredo sauce. This is a delicious and easy way to use some of your leftover turkey and have a quick meal!


Turkey Tacos or Burritos
We love making burritos, and every once in awhile we will make tacos instead. I know turkey tacos sounds like the weirdest thing ever, but you can hardly tell that it’s turkey instead of chicken, especially if it’s seasoned with taco seasoning. Try our 15 Minute Burrito Mix Recipe with Cilantro Rice– with everything else in it you definitely can’t tell that it’s turkey instead of chicken.

Turkey a la King
This is such an easy recipe that it’s a must after thanksgiving. It’s a great thick sauce that you serve over toast. I’ve even made it to where I will sneak in more vegetables and it’s still delicious! Click here to see my healthy version. My mother-in-law makes another recipe that she and my husband say is close to this one (I think it tastes totally different) but they call it Open Faced Turkey Sandwiches. It’s a mixture of shredded turkey and gravy as a sauce, served over toast as well.

15 Minute Italian PastaItalian Chicken Pasta #15MinuteSuppers
This pasta is great with or without meat, but a little shredded turkey would make it that much more delicious. The pasta is great when it is first made and warm but it is also amazing chilled. It’s a great meal to take in a lunch box whether you are traveling or just going to work.

15 Minute Cheesy Turkey and Rice

Cheesy Turkey and Rice #15MinuteSuppers

We love this easy dinner of Cheesy Turkey and Rice- it can be made in about 15 minutes and always tastes delicious! Not to mention that it is relatively cheap to make as well! We actually eat some form of Chicken and Rice a couple times a month here. We just had it this last week and my husband is already asking for it again! I guess I should have made a bigger batch so that he would have some leftovers.

I will be adding more recipes as I come up with the actual measurements for the ingredients (most of the time I just throw stuff together) so check back and see what’s new. You can follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook where I will post updates!

Want More Thanksgiving and Turkeys? Check out these fun crafts to do before the holiday!
Turkey Pumpkin Decoration Inspired by Pottery Barn
Recycled Leafy Fall Basket
Turkey Leaf Clips- Perfect for Accessories or Decor

Fall Leaf Mobile

I would like to call my creation a Chandelier. I think it’s beautiful. I saw a picture of leaves dipped in wax hanging to dry on Pintrest and it looked beautiful.

My fake leaves have been featured in quite a few of my posts lately. They were scattered in the grass for my Pumpkin Turkey, and they were turned into a turkey for the turkey hair clips.

Silk Leaves
Popsicle Sticks

Glue your popsicle sticks together in the shape of an X.

Use a needle to pull the thread through the leaves and tie the ends. Keep the other end of the thread long and tie that to your popsicle sticks.

That’s it! Hang it up somewhere and you have your own falling leaves to decorate for fall and Thanksgiving!