Hosting your first Thanksgiving meal at your home really isn’t as daunting as it sounds. While some may worry about all that has to be done to pull it off, it really doesn’t have to be stressful. With the right amount of planning and preparation, you can host a perfectly good Thanksgiving meal and still have sanity when it’s all over. Follow these simple 10 tips for hosting your first Thanksgiving meal with ease.
Tip #1: Don’t do it alone.
I have the tendency to do it on my own, but Thanksgiving really isn’t the time to be Superwoman. If someone offers to help you out on the big day take them up on the offer and let them help you. The extra set of hands will allow you to get more done in less time with time left over to enjoy your guests.
Tip #2: Make a plan.
Don’t wait until a few days before Thanksgiving to plan out your meal. Plan your menu weeks ahead of time so you’ll be better prepared. This will give you time to gather recipes, shop for ingredients and make a schedule for the big day. Having a timeline of when you’re going to cook what and for how long will take pressure off on the big day. Even if you’re not typically a planner you need to do this…just trust me. You’ll be so glad you did!
Tip #3: Make what you can ahead of time.
Make anything ahead of time that you can. Casseroles, vegetables and desserts can be cooked a couple of days ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Rolls can be made ahead of time, too. Don’t save it all up for the big day when you can knock some of those dishes off of your to-do list beforehand. I’ve even heard of some people cooking the turkey the day before and warming it in the crock pot on Thanksgiving Day. You decide what works for you and go for it.
Tip #4: Do your prep work.
What you don’t make ahead of time, prep for it. You’ll save valuable time by measuring, washing and even chopping your ingredients for recipes ahead of time. For example, you can wash potatoes so they’re ready to peel and cook the day of Thanksgiving.
Tip #5: Stick with what you know.
Thanksgiving is not the perfect day for trying out new recipes. Stick with the classics and recipes you know how to cook to make things easy.
Tip #6: Set the table the day before.
You know you’ll be busy cooking the meal on the big day, so go ahead and set the dinner table the day or night beforehand. It’s one less thing to do on Thanksgiving Day when you’ll have so many other tasks to do, plus it reminds you of the purpose of all the hustle you’ll be doing in the kitchen.
Tip #7: Focus on cleaning common areas.
As much as I love an entirely clean house, when I’m hosting a big dinner I know I need to focus on the areas of importance. Clean the areas of your home that your guests will see and notice, like the entrance area, living room, dining room and bathrooms.
Tip #8: Offer distractions for your guests.
No one likes to sit around with nothing to do while waiting for the turkey to come out of the oven, especially kids. Have board and card games on hand, or create a slide show of pictures for your guests to enjoy while you’re finishing up in the kitchen.
Tip #9: It’s OK to buy items instead of cooking them.
While you may think you need to cook everything from scratch for the big day, but you really don’t have to. It’s OK to purchase items from a bakery or deli if it will save you time and sanity. If you struggle with making gravy or stuffing, go ahead and purchase it premade and save yourself from the stress. It will be OK, and your guests may not even know it.
Tip #10: Enjoy the day.
Remember that it is a blessing to prepare an enjoyable meal for your family and friends. Remember your family is there to spend time with you and not be entertained. Don’t stay buried in the kitchen and miss out on the precious time you have with them. Relax, enjoy the day and be grateful for the time you have together.
Yes, no matter what others may tell you, hosting your first Thanksgiving in your home doesn’t have to be a nightmare. By following these tips you’ll ensure that hosting your first Thanksgiving meal will be a rewarding and successful experience for both you and your family and friends.