First Time Thanksgiving Host

Hello friends, it’s been in awhile. Happy to report that the McDonald’s household is just about done post Harvey renovations. We’ve truly been blessed by so many thank you from the bottom of our hearts. With the blessings and post crazy we decided to open up our home this year and host our first ever Thanksgiving. At first so many different thoughts rushed through my mind. What if I don’t have the perfect centerpiece by then? What if I’m rushed to cook and clean everything? What if my house doesn’t look perfect? What if I don’t have the perfect fall outfit. Seriously…. what is wrong with this me? I sat there Saturday morning and really started reflecting on family after I went to visit my cousin Friday night. Family, Thanksgiving, all the beautiful blessings and hardships we’ve experienced this year. Then it dawned on me you may not have your dining room chairs picked out by then and if we sit around on the floor for Thanksgiving so be it Sylvia. You have your family, delicious food, and so much to be grateful for, what more could you ever ask for. Again sometimes it’s hard for me to back up, look at the bigger picture, and realize the important things in life. Yes, I love centerpieces, all things hosting and worth celebrating, but in the end what is the purpose behind this tradition? I really need to reflect on that simple questions during the holiday season.

So I sat down and wrote out my plan for how the McDonald’s will be hosting Thanksgiving this year. Yes, I need a plan going into it otherwise it quickly becomes a stress mess. Below  you find links to every recipe I’m making. This is not the year to try and invent my own twist on things. This year is for simplicity, laughter, and truly just a good classic time with family. THE END.


Turkey- Ben will be the master in smoking and frying our turkeys this year.

Pumpkin Pecan Baked Brie

Stuffed Mushrooms

Green Bean Casserole

Mashed Potatoes


Brussel Sprouts

Chocolate Pie

Pecan Pie

Other family members will make the rest of the Thanksgiving necessities. Also Ben and I plan on making double batch of everything to take to our church that morning to help feed 6,000 people in the Houston area with their loaves and fishes program. Can’t wait. Please remember to try and find a way to serve during this Thanksgiving. Even if it means going through your pantry and packing up some canned goods to take to your local food pantry. Every little bit helps.

Some extra time saving tips I have for you this thanksgiving are as follows:

  1. Get your major deep cleaning done before. All linens, guest bedrooms, laundry, bathrooms etc. Leave for minimal tidying the day before.
  2. Print all your recipes ahead of time. Go through each recipe and make a master list of everything you will need. I did this in google sheets. I also organized my list by by food groups. Then print it out and go to your pantry and mark out anything you already have. Then go back and copy the orig list and make a new one taking those items out. It’s good to have both lists, 1. master item list and 2. master shopping list.
  3. My local grocery store now has this WONDERFUL feature where I can order my groceries online and then pick them all up curbside. Genius! If you live in Texas you have this feature at HEB. Your first 5 tries are free after that it’s just a small fee of $4.95. Totally worth it especially this time of year and the amount of groceries I need to order. I know what you’re thinking millennial, lazy, but I see it as smart, simple, and truly valuing my time. Plus lets be honest I will be making a grocery trip between now and thanksgiving.
  4. Make as much food as possible ahead of time. I plan on taking Wednesday off and trying to prep everything ahead of time. I want to enjoy thanksgiving day and don’t want to be flustered when my guest show up 15 minutes early or the casserole just went in the oven. Plan ahead, make to do list, split task up with your husband and family members.
  5. Let go, it’s not going to be perfect. Strive for simplicity and joy with family and loved ones.

So maybe next year I’ll have it more together. Cute place cards for each person. Trust me this is not me down playing all of that because I’m all for it when the timing is right. It’s just this year it’s not in my cards. I honestly hope I can have everything done and ready to go ahead of time so Thursday morning I can spend watching the Macy’s day parade with my mom over a cup of coffee and learning how to make her amazing stuffing.

My favorite tradition growing up on Thanksgiving was my dad would wake us up really early and take us downtown for the Thanksgiving day parade. We would then go get a quick breakfast at Denny’s. Nothing fancy and completely casual. It was the known McMillan family tradition. I think it started from needing us all out of the house as she prepped for our big Thanksgiving but none the less it’s my favorite tradition and I can’t wait to instill that tradition with my family.

Here’s some flashback photos from past Thanksgivings.

Share with me, what’s your favorite family Thanksgiving tradition? Favorite side dish to go completely gaga over? Tell me!

Sylvia McDonald


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