Are you hosting this year’s Thanksgiving dinner? We bet you're torn right now between feeling honored to host friends and family during such an important occasion and at the same time horrified of the holiday preps and the aftermath chores of the event.
But fret not. We’ll let you in on some secrets on how to host an unforgettably beautiful and festive Thanksgiving celebration without sending your stress levels through the roof.
Do a headcount and decide the vibe
First of all, you got to do confirm who your guests will be for Thanksgiving. Will it just be you, the hubby, and the kids? Will your parents or in-laws come over? Any of your friends or co-workers? How many guests will there be in total?
Knowing what kind of crowd you’ll be opening your home to and hosting will help you decide what to expect and how to prepare accordingly. If it’s an intimate party, you can set up on the dining table, but if there’ll be more guests than your table can accommodate to be seated, a buffet would make more sense.
Master your menu
Finalize your Thanksgiving dinner menu. This will serve as your ultimate guide not only when it comes to writing down ingredients for your shopping list but in planning your timetable as well.
Be careful and wise when choosing what dishes should go into your menu. Consider if the time and effort it would take you to whip up each meal. Go for equally delicious but easier alternatives to DIY Thanksgiving recipes whenever possible.
Break down big tasks into smaller ones
Shopping and cooking are the biggest tasks you need to face now that you’ve made up your Thanksgiving menu. Yes, they may seem daunting, but there’s a trick or two to doing these in less stressful ways.
Let’s talk about shopping.
- Create a shopping list based on the ingredients that each of the dishes requires.
- Divide the list into two: perishables and non-perishables.
- Schedule two shopping trips, at least two weeks before Thanksgiving.
Whatever happens, don’t try to procrastinate and do a last-minute run at the grocery, thinking you can get all you need. This is going to be a major stress trigger.
Imagine the long queues at the store, the stocks running out, wishing you were an octopus, so you can carry all your shopping bags and that you had a truck instead of a car because it won’t fit your Thanksgiving haul. Then, of course, getting home super exhausted only to find out you’ve still forgotten some essentials.
The same principle can be applied to cooking, too.
Make-ahead meals sound super cool nowadays. Is there anything on your Thanksgiving menu that you can cook a day or two in advance, refrigerate, and then reheat on the day itself? Scour the Internet for Thanksgiving make-ahead recipes. Pies, gratins, casseroles are good candidates for this. Some even recommend cooking everything but the Thanksgiving turkey a day before the big day.
It’s OK to outsource or delegate
As much as we want to be, sometimes we just can’t be Wonder Woman all the time. Believe it or not, multi-tasking – no matter how effectively it deceives you into thinking you feel good or accomplished – bad for you. It’s the number one reason why you’re so stressed all the time.
Thanksgiving is big. Hosting it means you already have a lot on your plate. It’s not embarrassing to accept or ask for help.
A few examples:
- Get your Thanksgiving centerpiece from an online florist who can deliver it a day before.
Yes, a DIY flower arrangement sounds impressive, but honey, when you’ll be cooking God knows how many dishes, cleaning the house, with kids running around, and a hair and make-up of your own to put on, who has time?
- Assign friends or family to pick up a bottle of wine, some kind of pies or desserts on their way to your home.
- Allow your guests – encourage should be the word for close friends or relatives – to help you tidy up the table. Bribe them with coffee and dessert after.
Have fun and be thankful
Lastly, think beyond the preps and chores to do afterward.
Don’t forget to have a good time. Don’t miss to savor the food and the drinks you prepared and to have meaningful conversations with your guests.
Have an attitude of gratitude. It’s Thanksgiving after all.