Good company, great food and reflecting on all that there is to be grateful for. This is why I love Thanksgiving. But hosting Thanksgiving dinner can also mean stress, chaos and a long list of to-dos!
Well, that’s no fun and that is precisely why, if you’re hosting this year and if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, you should take a deep breath and follow these 3 tips:
1. Share the load. Sometimes it takes a village. Most guests are cognizant of how much time and effort goes into putting on a Thanksgiving feast and are more than happy to contribute and help out. So let them! Do you have a guest that’s an amazing baker? Great! Let them bring their favorite dessert. Is there a wine aficionado in the family? Lovely. Guess who’s in charge of selecting the wines? Decorations can be delegated to the crafty DIYer in the gang. And so forth. Letting your guests contribute what they are good at is a wonderful way to lessen your hosting to-dos all while giving them the chance to shine and display their talents. And for those with no stand-out talent? Every party needs ice, right?
2. Do what you can ahead of time. Beyond the menu planning and the shopping, tackling some small tasks in the day or two before Thanksgiving can set you up for success. Now’s the time to clean out and organize your refrigerator to make room for all the goodies and leftovers that will surely fill your fridge. Go ahead and set the table the night before and pull out all the serving dishes and utensils that you’ll be using so that you know what goes where when the meal is ready to be served. On the day of, keep on top of dishes and make sure the dishwasher is empty and ready to load at the end of dinner. If you are serving coffee at dessert time, earlier in the day set it all up and set your auto brew for dessert hour. Voilà! One more thing scratched off your to-do list.
3. Avoid kitchen bottleneck. You know how it goes…at most parties people end up in the kitchen. If you want to keep your guests safely away from the turkey work zone right before dinner, set up a drink station in another part of the house, like in the living room or dining room. Gather up the goods, like an ice bucket, scooper, glassware, beverages, wine and wine opener and let your guests play bartender and serve themselves. After the meal, create a drop zone on the counter where helpers can stack dirty dishes or have them load directly into empty dishwasher (see tip #2), but discourage the guests from congregating in the kitchen for too long, and give them something to do, like play a game. I’m all for letting 1 or 2 guests help out with dish duty, but you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen.
Happy Thanksgiving and happy hosting! Read more tips for getting your home ready for company on Thanksgiving here.