Hosting Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, it can be quite enjoyable, especially if you go into it with a plan of action and without an overload of last-minute to-do’s. Below you will find tips and tricks for hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving.
In order to get you on the fast-track to an easy, breezy Thanksgiving dinner, we’ll cover all the basics and more, including seating arrangements, RSVP’s, how to plan your Thanksgiving menu, Thanksgiving potluck ideas to pass along to your guests, plus, 8 essential tips for hosting!
Before you can plan your Thanksgiving dinner, first consider what kind of dinner you’ll be having. Is it an elegant tablescape with china, florals, and candlelight lining the table? Or, are guests filling paper plates, sitting where they please, and casually enjoying themselves?
Regardless of whether your Thanksgiving dinner is elegant or casual, Thanksgiving is a sit-down kind of holiday and you’ll need to make sure you have a place for everyone to sit. When considering the number of guests you can invite, consider the size of your space and how many people can fit into it without feeling cramped. If you plan to entertain both indoors and outdoors, this is not so much of an issue.
Once you know how many people you can fit in your home, sending out an electronic invitation is a great way to track your RSVP’s. Paperless Post is an extremely convenient invitation platform and will serve as a major time-saver for you. Not to mention, the comment wall will allow guests to see who’s bringing what and prevent duplicate dishes from clashing in the kitchen — a major holiday no-no.
If you have not heard from a guest by your RSVP date, do not hesitate to follow up with them. The more secure you are in your company headcount, the less stressed you’ll be when it comes to bringing everything together for your holiday party.
PLANNING YOUR THANKSGIVING MENU
As the host or hostess, you are responsible for the main dish, which in this case, is the Thanksgiving turkey. From there, consider how many more dishes you can realistically make without feeling overwhelmed. Keep in mind the cook times and oven space required for each recipe you’ll be using.
If every dish you make requires time in the oven and cooks at different temperatures, you may find yourself in a bind the day of. Instead, choose an assortment of dishes that cook on both the stovetop, as well as in the oven. No-cook items, such as cheese boards, are particularly wonderful additions for the host.
THANKSGIVING POTLUCK IDEAS
Spread out the workload to make entertaining easier on yourself, which in turn, makes the event more enjoyable for your guests. Remember that your guests likely have their favorite holiday recipes too, and there is no need to do it all yourself. Keep in mind, most people actually like making contributions toward a special meal, so asking your company to bring an item shouldn’t be seen as a burden. Plus, when everyone contributes to the feast, it keeps costs down. Bonus.
The potluck aspect of Thanksgiving is where a digital invitation with an open comment forum is an excellent idea because, again, people can see who is bringing what and make their potluck contributions based on that!
WHAT TO BRING TO A POTLUCK THANKSGIVING
8 TIPS FOR HOSTING THANKSGIVING
- Make A Plan – As mentioned earlier, you need to have a plan working up to your guest’s arrival time. Do as much cooking and prep as you possibly can before Thanksgiving Day.
- Make Your Grocery List – Create your grocery list looking at one recipe at a time. Do it in the kitchen so you can double-check both your refrigerator and pantry items before you choose not to add an item to the list. When constructing your list, try to envision the set-up of your grocery store, and add items to your list under categories such as “Produce Section,” “Baking Aisle,” “Dairy,” etc. Remember, you can never have too much butter, too much flour, or chicken broth on hand for Thanksgiving preparations. You will also need to have a few small, airtight containers for storing prepped ingredients.
- Never Turn Down a Helping Hand – As much as you may like to do all, give yourself a break when it comes to hosting a big holiday party. If someone asks if they can come early and help you prep, by all means, take them up on it. If you can, think up tasks in advance that kitchen helpers can hop to with little-to-no instruction.
- Thaw the Turkey In Advance – A large turkey can take up to 4 days to thaw. Be sure you are safely thawing it in the refrigerator in time for the big day!
- Know Your Recipes – Look over your recipes to ensure you have a grasp on what each dish will entail. Be sure to make note of both the ingredients and the method.
- Cleaning House – This one is no fun, but try to get the fine-tune cleaning out of the way 1 to 2 days in advance. Knock out the dusting, bathrooms, wiping down kitchen appliances, etc… Give yourself enough time before guests arrive to make a final sweep of the floors and straighten up what you can in the kitchen.
- Setting the Table/Tables – Do this as far in advance as you’d like. If you can knock it out early, go for it! Have your linens ironed (if you do that sort of thing). Set the table with plates, utensils, and napkins. You can even set out serving pieces you intend to use, including serving utensils.
- Enjoy Yourself – Remember that your gathering is more about the people and the time you’ll spend with them than anything else. At any and all costs, take the time to slow down, enjoy your holiday, your food, and most importantly, your guests.