Five Things I Learned From Hosting My First Thanksgiving

Well, I did it. I hosted my very first Thanksgiving, and it was a success! (If I do say so myself. 😀 ) And I learned a lot about hosting, and about what I’ll do differently next time. But overall, we had a great time, great conversation, lots of laughter, loads of food, and a very relaxing day together. What more could we have asked for?

Here are a few things that I learned from hosting my first Thanksgiving:

1. My New House Cleaning Plan Makes My Life So Much Easier!

A few days ago, I shared with y’all that I had finally discovered the secret to keeping a clean house. If you missed that post, you can click here to read it. Hosting my first Thanksgiving really put my plan to the test.

I’m naturally a very messy person, so before instituting my house cleaning plan, if I were to volunteer to host something in our house, I would have to spend at least two solid days doing nothing but cleaning the house, and that’s in addition to any other things that needed to be done, like preparing food. Those days of house cleaning would generally include staying up really late the night before in a frantic effort to get it all finished, and sometimes even waking up early the next morning (on the day that the gathering was planned) to finish up. Talk about stressful!

Last week, I had none of that. I had to dedicate precisely ZERO days to cleaning the house. There were no frantic, last-minute efforts to get the cleaning done. None of that! It was already clean!

I was so calm and stress-free that in the couple of days leading up to Thanksgiving day, I had at lteast two moments of panic, thinking to myself, “OH MY GOSH! I’m surely missing something!” But all that was missing was the stress and exhaustion that I would generally feel before having people in our home before implementing my new plan.

Those awful feelings were completely gone, and it was such an amazing feeling to know that I’d be hosting people in our home, and yet I felt absolutely no stress from a huge list of things I needed to get done, and no exhaustion from late nights in a frantic effort to get the house presentable.

If you’re the messy type like I naturally am, I can’t even express to you the peace of mind that my new house cleaning system has brought me. That feeling of peace and calm is truly indescribable, and it makes me even more determined to never go back to my old messy ways.

2. I Prefer A Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Meal

Am I the only one who doesn’t really like turkey and dressing? It’s my least favorite part of Thanksgiving.

Well, this year, we decided to do something a little different. Since my sister-in-law works nights, and she got off of work very early in the morning (around 6:00am), we decided to have a Thanksgiving breakfast/brunch rather than putting off our meal later in the day and force her to stay awake just so that we could eat at our regular lunch time.

And breakfast/brunch meant no turkey and dressing! I was very okay with that. 😀 So instead of Thanksgiving lunch, we met at 9:00am for Thanksgiving brunch, and we had a menu of breakfast casserole, bacon, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, fruit, orange juice, coffee, etc. We ALL agreed that it was an amazing meal, and that we liked it so much that this was going to be our new Thanksgiving tradition.

A few days before Thanksgiving, my mom sent me a bunch of recipes and asked me to narrow down the menu. So after going through all of the options, I decided on this Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole from The Pioneer Woman, swapping out the bacon for breakfast sausage. (I prefer to eat my bacon plain and whole on the side.)

I kid you not when I say that this was the best breakfast casserole that I’ve ever had in my life. I’m generally not a huge fan of breakfast casseroles because I find them to be either too dry or too eggy (or both). This one was neither of those things. It was absolute perfection, and this will be my “go to” breakfast casserole in the future.

I prepped everything and put it all together in the casserole dish the night before, covered it and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Then on Thursday morning, I got it out of the fridge about 7:30am and let it sit on the countertop, and then popped it into the oven around 8:30. By 9:30, it was baked to perfection, and after letting it “rest” for ten minutes, we dug in.

3. I Love That Our House Is Being Used!!

I can’t even express to y’all the amount of joy and satisfaction I’m getting out of our house finally being USED! I put so many years of hard work into this house, remodeling and decorating every area myself (often with help on the big projects that I couldn’t do solo), and to now see it being used and enjoyed by others does my heart good.

And I mean, things are getting used. Since we don’t have a dining room right now, and I wasn’t really sure what we’d do after we ate, I ended up pushing the living room sofa back against the entryway credenza, moving the side table out of the room, and setting up a folding table and chairs in the middle of the living room for our meal.

We actually sat at the table for hours, talking and laughing and having great conversation. But afterwards (around mid-afternoon when we all got tired from our big meal), we pushed the table over to the side windows to set out some snacks, and I brought the two sitting room recliners into the living room, and also brought our big TV into the living room and set it up on the coffee table so that we could watch a movie, chat more, relax, and even snooze a bit.

Here’s the aftermath that I woke up to the next morning, after I had already put the TV back in our bedroom and shoved things around just a bit. (And for those who have asked in the past, yes, those ottomans that live in the entryway do get used.)

Here’s the view from the other end of the room…

Everything was moved and disheveled, but you know what? I absolutely LOVED IT! I love having people in our home, and I love seeing them comfortable and relaxed in our home. I don’t care how much I have to rearrange furniture to make that happen.

By the way, if you’re new here, this is what those areas generally look like…

4. A Fully-Functional Bathroom Is A Must!

Our hallway bathroom has some issues, and when it’s just Matt and me in our home, I tend to forget about them. I’ve just learned to live with them.

I’ve already explained the toilet issue here. And because I absolutely hate the idea of replacing a toilet due to things that should be inexpensive and easily replaceable (but are not even available, and therefore, aren’t replaceable at all), I’ve put off replacing the toilet. So for over a year now, every single time that toilet is flushed, I have to remove the tank lid, jiggle a little thing to get the water running into the tank, and then make sure the flapper is covering the hole through which the water goes into the bowl.

Again, when it’s just the two of us here, that seems like a non-issue. I’ve become so used to it that it’s just second nature. But when I have a house full of people, and I’m constantly having to keep an eye on that bathroom to see if it’s being used so that I can go in after every single use and “reset” the toilet for the next use, it’s not great.

So take my advice. If you’re DIYing your way through your home like I’ve done, and you’re to the point where you want to start hosting guests, just make sure that the bathroom is fully functional. You don’t need a beautiful dining room (a folding table and stackable chairs are fine), and you don’t need a perfect family room. But you do need a fully functional bathroom.

I’ll be heading to Home Depot this afternoon to get ours taken care of so that I can start being fully present when we have people in our home, rather than feeling like I have to babysit the bathroom. 😀

5. I Really Can’t Wait To Build Our Addition!!

While I absolutely loved hosing Thanksgiving, and was satisfied with our current arrangement, and I’m perfectly happy to move furniture around to make people feel comfortable in our home, I want that addition more now than ever.

Oh, I dream of the day that I can have my dining room (which is currently being used as a temporary sitting room for Matt’s benefit) back as a functional dining room. And when I can have a large family room with super comfy furniture and a large TV that lives permanently in that room.

I’m more motivated now to see just how quickly we can make that happen. I honestly don’t know what Matt will say (he holds the purse strings and governs the timeline when it comes to the really big projects since he’s the budget guy), but I hope to plead my case that we need to do that sooner than later, and then hope that he sees it my way. 😀

So overall, I thoroughly enjoyed being the host for Thanksgiving this year. I’m so glad I’ve taken steps to make hosting easier and stress-free, and I think with a few tweaks, it will be even better next time!

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