The first time the Hollywood duo spent the holiday together was at Prinze's home in Toluca Lake, California, not long after they met on the set of the 1997 film "I Know What You Did Last Summer." It was then that Gellar quickly came on board Prinze's perennial tradition of what he calls his "Straggler Thanksgiving."
"Straggler Thanksgiving" was created on the very principle of including all those who had yet to make it big in LA's cutthroat entertainment biz.
"I was a young actor in the '90s in LA where you had professionals, starving artists — a lot of people with big dreams but no money. The door was unlocked and everyone could come in and have a meal and share a story. It grew and shrank over the years," Prinze, who partnered with Butterball to field questions about Thanksgiving prep, told TODAY Food. "When it was the '90s, it was not as easy to come out as gay — some people didn't go home. It was a place for artists to come. There was no religion and no politics; all ages, all races. Everybody."
Prinze recalled he invited Gellar, who's from New York, and her mom because it was just the two of them out West. Gellar may have already earned the famed role of "Buffy," but in Prinze's eyes she was a friend far from home on the holiday.
Gellar joined Prinze and his family of "stragglers," many of whom included martial artists like Chuck Norris who had significant roles in Prinze's upbringing. This meant "Straggler Thanksgiving" also included some lighthearted sparring in the backyard before the turkey was served.
"Sarah came into that," Prinze told TODAY Food. "She was like, 'Did they just hit each other?!' But she liked it enough to stick around."
Today, not much has changed. Prinze spends his time at the stove with his and Gellar's daughter, Charlotte, 10 — the way he did with his mom learning about "his old man" and life in Hollywood. It's where big conversations happened and continue to happen.
"I'm just blessed that I get to have my daughter at the stove with me and blessed that my son (Rocky, 8) throws down whatever I give him," Prinze told TODAY Food.
Charlotte's favorite dish to cook is butternut squash. Gellar, who, like their son, is a fan of all the fixings, smothers Prinze's gravy (simmered with the giblets and the neck) on everything.
"She always likes the turkey and takes a bunch of pictures," Prinze said.
On Thursday, Prinze and Gellar expect a mix of 16 to 18 people: some friends, some family, all stragglers and all welcome.