How to Host Thanksgiving in 2023

Are you considering taking the plunge and hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your place this year? Wonderful! But before you fully commit and start sending out invitations, would you like some tried and tested menu and table inspiration? Well you’ve come to the right place.
Below we’ve put together some starting point essentials on not just what bounty to dish up to your family and friends, but how to present it too. Because Thanksgiving dinner should be just as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the belly, and presentation is a key ingredient for setting the right, grateful tone. 

What is Thanksgiving?

If you’re new to Thanksgiving, here’s a laser-quick summary. Celebrated each year on the fourth Thursday of November, it’s a national holiday and harvest festival where Americans come together to give thanks and praise for all the blessings and bounties they’ve reaped throughout the year. 
The focal point of celebrations is the Thanksgiving dinner, where the table is set high with foods and dishes traditionally associated with the colonization of the Americas such as turkey with stuffing, mashed and sweet potato, squash, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. 
Many people like to expand their Thanksgiving celebration with activities that go beyond the traditional mix of family, friends and food. From heading out to experience a street parade, movie theater, forest trail or national park, through to holding a pie-eating contest or pumpkin hunt in the backyard, have a think about what you and your guests might enjoy doing to fill any lulls - such as waiting for the turkey to be ready to come out of the oven. 

What are popular Thanksgiving foods?

While traditions vary from household to household across the nation, there are still a large number of staple dishes that a traditional Thanksgiving dinner will feature. Those dishes are listed below, and if you’d like to include them as part of your Thanksgiving, click on the links to find some of the latest inspiration on how to cook and serve them.

  • Turkey 
  • Casserole
  • Stuffing
  • Gravy
  • Cranberry sauce 
  • Mac & cheese 
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Pumpkin pie

Thanksgiving table setting ideas

Your guests being greeted by a festive, Thanksgiving-themed home will have just as much of an effect on them as the food you serve. And one of the most important ingredients in setting the scene for the day is where you’ve arranged for your guests to eat. 

You might opt to have everyone sit around the one table right from the start, or get them to help themselves from a buffet in the kitchen or on a second table - it doesn’t matter which you choose, as they’re both great for Thanksgiving. What is important is to present a table setting that leaves your family and friends feeling welcomed, embraced and blessed to be a part of your celebration. 

Formal seated Thanksgiving setting

If it works best for your home, your guests and your preferred style of entertaining, go ahead and follow the more formal and traditional route by having everyone seated together around a main table. In this setting, no plating up is done in the kitchen. Instead, all trays, platters and bowls are placed in the middle of the table from the start so that guests can help themselves, pass dishes to each other and share lively conversation along the way.

To create a harmonious and classic style, set your guests’ places using Royal Doulton’s classic white dinnerware, one of the 16-piece dinner sets, or with our collection of multicolored dinnerware

Buffet style Thanksgiving setting

If you’re concerned your guests will feel crowded while they eat because there’s too many dishes on the dining table, a buffet-style setting is the ideal solution.

At the front end of your buffet table, put a stack of dinner plates for guests to pick up. Then place all the trays, platters and bowls of food, carefully ordered from one end to the other, for guests to help themselves, with cutlery at the end to take to the dining table. Condiments like gravy, cranberry sauce and butter can all be ready on the dining table. Ideally, set up drinks and glasses on either a third table, separate drinks station or bar cart.
Explore Royal Doulton’s collection of serveware including serving trays and serving sets to help you serve your culinary wonders.

Serve your Thanksgiving specialties the Royal Doulton way

Are there Thanksgiving dishes someone in your family is particularly known for making and that you all look forward to each year? Treat those treasured remembrances with the care they deserve by serving up Grandma’s famous mashed potatoes in one of the perfectly imperfect bowls from our Bowls of Plenty collection, or bringing your family-favorite roast turkey to the table atop an elegant Royal Doulton serving platter.
Don’t forget to slow down at Thanksgiving, savor the moment and enjoy the occasion.

Explore Thanksgiving dinnerware and serveware