Menu Planning for Large Dinner Parties

Creating a Thanksgiving dinner menu for a large group of people can be a very stressful endeavor without the right tools. Learn from our favorite holiday meal planning tips so you’re always ready to throw a large dinner party this season!

  • By Jess Dang
  • October 31, 2019

Can you believe that the holidays are just around the corner? I’ll be hosting Thanksgiving this year and am excited to be in menu planning mode. I know cooking a big holiday meal can feel quite intimidating, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience entertaining. So as someone who’s planned and cooked a lot of big meals for friends and family and clients during my catering days, I wanted to pass on a celebratory meal planning system.

Hosting your first big holiday gathering can be so much fun, and with the right kind of planning and organization, you’ll be able to create an incredible feast without stress and anxiety. In this podcast episode, I’ll share:

  1. How to create a holiday menu that won’t have you cooking for days
  2. The Excel template that I use to make sure my big holiday dinner goes off without a hitch
  3. How to prepare your kitchen for extra helpers 

And even if you’re not hosting Thanksgiving, these “big meal” planning tips can be used for any large gathering you might plan in the future. Have a listen and gain the confidence you need to rock a big holiday dinner!

Here are some photos of my family’s Thanksgiving dinner last year, hosted at my house:


If you’ve got questions you want us to answer in a future episode, comments about a previous episode, or just want to say hi and share some love, give us a call at 1-650-386-0290 and leave us a voicemail. You might just hear your voice on the podcast!

Love from our podcast community:

“This is what every home cook needs in their life. Jess has done it again! I’m picky about podcasts, but these are digestible and informative. Great podcast voice, Jess 👩🏻‍🍳 Thanks for turning me from a recipe follower to a chef.”

– 5280love

Subscribe & review in your podcast player

Help us continue to put these info-packed episodes together by subscribing to “In the Kitchen with Cook Smarts” in your podcast player and giving us some stars. If you really love us and want to be a super supporter (and we hope you do!), please leave us a review on Apple Podcast, too. If we share your review in a future episode, we’ll send you a Cook Smarts tote bag to bring you more fun and eco-friendly grocery shopping!

5280love, thanks for the great review above and make sure to reach out to us at so we can ship a new tote to you.

And of course, if you know someone who’ll be hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, please be sure to pass this episode along to them. Here’s to creating more delicious gatherings!

Links mentioned in this episode

Check out the links we’ve mentioned:

  1. Cook some of our Thanksgiving recipes – full menu here and no oven required sides here
  2. Make a copy of our Thanksgiving Planner and use it to organize your feast
  3. Get ideas for what to do with leftover turkey and other leftovers with our Guide to Repurposed Leftovers
  4. Have houseguests? Check out the Feeds a Crowd tag in our All Meals Archives

Get more helpful cooking tips and resources by signing up for our newsletter below. We send out weekly emails that will help you improve in the kitchen and live a healthier life, so join our community today and start cooking smarter!

Holiday Meal Planning | In the Kitchen with Cook Smarts PodcastHoliday Meal Planning | In the Kitchen with Cook Smarts PodcastHoliday Meal Planning | In the Kitchen with Cook Smarts Podcast


Our Podcast: Strategies to become a smarter cook


Try our award winning meal plan service for free

Share the love!

Join our community

Enjoy free tips in your inbox

How can we help you in the kitchen?

Join our community

Enjoy free tips in your inbox

Sign up for the Cook Smarts Newsletter


Privacy Policy: We hate SPAM & promise to keep your email address safe.