Hosting Thanksgiving can be a daunting endeavor…
I am a perfectionist and easily stressed to boot, not a great combination when it’s your turn to host Thanksgiving… I love the idea of hosting everyone’s favorite annual dinner party but the first time I volunteered I learned a valuable lesson in Thanksgiving preparation. Nothing went as I had imagined and my stress level got out of control. What I had hoped would be a fun and delicious evening filled with laughter and family tales was ruined by my panic and stress. I picked a fight with anyone “doing it wrong” and made everyone uncomfortable. It was a disaster…
Just because the first try doesn’t go well doesn’t mean you should give up. Learn from your experiences and do better next time. My second try at hosting this Holiday went much better but still taught me several valuable lessons! If this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving, feel free to learn from my mistakes!
There is so much to do before guests start arriving and rushing for perfection can quickly overwhelm anyone. With a little planning and preparation, you too can pull off a wonderful holiday gathering!
Here are 10 of my tips and tricks to hosting a stress free Thanksgiving!
- Make a cleaning list and start early!
Don’t wait until the day before to start cleaning your house! There is too much to clean to fit it all in one day. Create a checklist of everything that needs to be cleaned, making sure you have check boxes for 2 weeks before, 1 week before and 1 day before. Getting the guestroom set up and cleaning the bathrooms in the two weeks leading up to the big day will save you time and stress the week of.
- Make a shopping list and shop in advance!
I am a huge fan of lists! Staying organized is key here and will help keep you from being one of those people fighting off shoppers for the last can of cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving day. You don’t want to risk the stores running out (it happens every year) or leaving your guest at home while you make a last minute run to the store for something you forgot. Buy all non-perishable items two weeks before the dinner and perishable items a few days before.
Don’t try to cook the entire meal yourself (unless you are a professional chef)! Your friends and family will be more than happy to bring sides and desserts so you don’t have to cook 20 dishes at once! Pick the items you want to cook and assign each of your guests one of the remaining items to bring.
- Stick to what you know or practice first!
This is not the time to try out all the Pinterest ideas you’ve found! It may seem like fun to get fancy with it but when it turns out to be much harder than it looked your Pinterest fail will leave you with nothing to serve. Choose a recipe you know and love and your guests will rave about your expertise! If you do try something new practice a week before and make sure it turns out the way you hope.
- Make what you can in advance (or in a crockpot)!
The turkey will take hours to cook so consider your oven unavailable. Don’t expect to to cook the turkey, a green bean casserole and bake a pie all in the same day, it’s not going to happen… Bake your pies a day or two in advance. Cook any side dishes the night before and warm them back up once the turkey is done. Crockpots are a hosts best friend! Throw your ingredients in and forget about it until time to serve! Think ahead to how long things will take to cook.
- Take care of yourself first!
All your plans and ideas will be running through your head but don’t get caught in your robe and fuzzy slippers when your guest arrive by running out of time to get ready. Shower, get dressed and do yourself up nice when you first wake up! Wear an apron while you cook to avoid messes but when your Aunt and Uncle arrive 2 hours early you’ll be ready!
- Plan entertainment but don’t insist on it!
When guests get bored they get cranky or wander around under foot. Especially if kids are coming be sure to have ideas to keep them busy! Have some games and crafts ready that adults and kids alike will enjoy but don’t sweat it if all they want to do is watch the game. The goal is to keep them entertained and out of your kitchen it doesn’t matter they choose.
- Don’t try to control everything!
Let people sit wherever they want. If your niece wants to set the table and she puts the forks on the wrong side of the plate, it won’t kill you. If your sister offers to help mash the potatoes and does it differently than you would have done it, they will still taste delicious. Be grateful for the help and don’t try to control it all.
- Expect left-overs!
There is going to be so much food left over, you won’t possibly be able to eat it all. Plan create meals to make out of it in the following week. Also have take home boxes available so your guests can help take it off your hands!
- Remember to have fun!
Yes you are the host and you are providing a good time for your guests but remember to celebrate along with them! Don’t get so wrapped up in hosting that you forget to enjoy your own party! Joke, Laugh and play around! Togetherness is what it’s all about, the rest will fall into place.