Thanksgiving is only weeks away, and for many that means family get-togethers, football games on TV, an abundance of calories…maybe even a post turkey nap.
Yet, for many, Thanksgiving can be more hectic than relaxing and enjoyable. When hosting family or friends for the holidays, creating a memorable, entertaining experience can quickly become overwhelming. Whether you’re putting on your first Thanksgiving feast or your 50th, here are some timely tips on how to reduce the stress and make the day as pleasant for you as it is for your guests.
Know Your Guests
It all starts with knowing who you’ll be hosting. Whether an intimate meal with immediate family or a feast for the entire neighborhood, you need to know who, and how many, will be joining the fun. From head count and seating needs to food allergies and menu planning, this is step one!
Get An Early Start
Give yourself plenty of time to ramp up to the big day, at least two weeks. Once you know your guest list, you can put your plan together. What’s on the menu, who’s bringing what, how many place settings are needed, shopping in advance, decorating ideas…the earlier you get started the less stress you’ll feel.
This tip is crucial for a successful holiday meal. Take a look at your menu and identify dishes that can be made ahead of time and frozen. Other tasks, like chopping onions and scoring Brussels sprouts, can also be done days in advance.
Outsource Work Where You Can
When possible, go for the easy solution. Many grocery stores offer delicious side dishes and appetizers ready to go. Casseroles don’t care if you’re using fresh or frozen veggies. Your neighborhood bakery can provide fantastic bread and dessert options. Even a local salad bar can save prep time by offering already chopped onions, peppers, tomatoes, and other fresh ingredients.
Add Some Potluck
Share the load. Let your guests contribute to your feast by bringing a dish to share. It gives you a break, everyone else a chance to be part of the day and adds variety to your meal. One caution, unless you want five casseroles of Mac and Cheese, you might want to discuss in advance what each person is bringing.
Ask for Help
On the big day, you have a houseful of helpers, all you need to do is ask. Assign tasks – from supervising children and keeping them entertained leading up to mealtime, to putting people in charge of clean-up and leftovers. There’s nothing wrong with lessening your load while letting others be involved in the day.
Remember the Reason
In the desire to be perfect, it’s easy to forget the real reason for the day. Thanksgiving isn’t about serving the perfect turkey or putting on a picture-perfect spread. It’s about being thankful. Thankful for those you love, for the blessings in your life, and the opportunity to spend it with those important to you.
All the rest is just gravy, so to speak. Stay well.