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How to Host a Throwback Thanksgiving

Channel the elegance and style of the 1960s, with a touch of nostalgia that makes Thanksgiving extra special, with this old-school Thanksgiving menu.

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that's all about the food, of course, but you can have even more fun planning the menu this year! Follow our lead with this throwback Thanksgiving menu to bring back some of the elegance from decades past. We dug into our magazine archive to put together a deliciously nostalgic Thanksgiving menu, and we have tips for how to pull the holiday together with ease—and less stress. Get your friends and family involved in the holiday, share the highlights of the menu to inspire their attire, and enjoy a most memorable turkey dinner this year. Here's a look at our game plan.

Invite Friends

Knowing how many people are coming to your Thanksgiving is key to planning–especially if you have to work around any food allergy concerns. Get those invites out early so you can get going on planning the rest of the holiday.


Set a Budget

Decide what you want to spend and where those valuable dollars should go. We like to think through our budget-friendly party by separating out food and tabletop expenses to prioritize. Thanksgiving is obviously all about the food, so aim to repurpose dishes, linens, and decorative items you already have in new and creative ways…and splurge on food and drink ingredients.

Click here to get the Insider and our best Budget-Friendly Party Ideas.


Decide on the Menu

Sure, there will be turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pie, but what kind of each is the yearly question! Peruse our archives for classic throwback menu options to really bring your theme to life. And who knows, you might even wind up making a turkey dinner that's seriously nostalgic for everyone in attendance! (Before you start cooking, check out these kitchen hacks from our Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen.)

Click here to get the Insider and find our Classic Throwback Thanksgiving Menu, complete with Salmon Dill Canapes, Sparkling Kumquat Salad, Two-Potato Swirls. Sweet Potato Hazelnut Pie, and more (turkey!).


Share the Load

Friends and family are almost always more than happy to bring a dish to share, so let them! Or, if you really want to do all the food yourself, invite friends to bring wine, to help set the table, or do cleanup. For a holiday that's all about showing gratitude, this is the best way to make sure that everyone gets in on that spirit—and the host doesn't get too worn out!


Plan Ahead

Get your Thanksgiving off to a relaxed start by getting a jump on the food prep. You can do these tasks the day before the main event.

  • Clean the green beans
  • Mix the Kumquat Salad dressing
  • If you plan to bake the stuffing outside of the turkey in a casserole dish, you can make it the day before
  • Bake the pies and tarts


Classic Thanksgiving Menu

This throwback menu is part classic elegance with a touch of retro flair. We like to serve this menu with a crisp Riesling or a bright and light Pinot Noir. Or, you can go with a crisp hard apple cider which will pair well with the entire menu from appetizers straight through dessert.

Cheese and Spinach Puffs: Part dumpling, part corn muffin, these bite-size puffs are just retro enough to be in style again.

Salmon Dill Canapes: Break open the sparkling wine to pair with these classic canapes!

Two-Potato Swirls: Combine the best of mashed and sweet potatoes in these pretty swirled potato stacks.

Down South Green Beans: With a crisp texture and a smoky flavor undertone, these fresh veggies bring a bright note to the rich Thanksgiving table.

Sparkling Kumquat Salad: Sparkling wine gives the vinaigrette in this simple salad a festive touch.

Artisanal Bread Stuffing: A mix of artisan bread, fennel, pine nuts, olives, and onion gives this stuffing an Italian-meets California feel.

Perfect Oven-Roasted Turkey: Forget the deep frying and fussy brining and go with the classic method for a perfectly moist bird every time.

Giblet Gravy: Gravy is the best when it's made fresh from drippings the old-fashioned way!

Pumpkin Raisin Tart: With three distinct layers that include a quick tart crust, a creamy honey-raisin-nut layer, and pumpkin, this decadent tart will wow your guests.

Sweet Potato Hazelnut Pie: Creamy custard and crunchy, rich hazelnuts…this is our idea of a perfect dessert!</p>