You look forward to Thanksgiving each year. No matter who hosts, it always seems to go off without a hitch. But now you have your own home, and you’ve been picking up some subtle vibes that maybe, just maybe, you should host this year? Well, don’t sweat it. You can do it – and make it look effortless.
- Have a game plan.
Before you invite guests, think about the space that you have. Do you have room for people to mix and mingle comfortably? Togetherness is a nice, but no one wants to be squished. Do you have enough tables & chairs? Do you need to borrow or rent them?
- Invite early.
The key to a stress-free Thanksgiving is planning. Once you commit to hosting, you need to invite every person you want to come. Even if your friends and family are spur-of-the-moment types, they very likely commit to Thanksgiving plans early in November, so start putting feelers out there ASAP. And don’t make assumptions, actually invite. Invite anyone you would want to have at dinner, and then let them tell you if they can make it or not.
- Be organized.
Planning and organizing isn’t just nice, it’s imperative to make sure you don’t find yourself with missing ingredients, a house that’s a mess, and three hours of cooking still to be done when your guests arrive. That means making lists of everything you need to do for your dinner, preparing a schedule for the weeks leading up to dinner, and writing shopping lists before you head to the store for ingredients and supplies.
- Plan your menu sooner rather than later.
Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, and you need a plan of attack. Figure out what’s on the menu. And decide if you’d like your guests to bring something. Chances are they will want to… you just have to tell them what you need. And when your vegan niece asks what you’re serving, tell her she’s welcome to bring a vegan dish to share with the group.
- Spruce up guest rooms and public spaces.
Give these rooms a through going over. Clear off all tables, counters and ottomans. No stacks of mail, magazines, newspapers, etc. Clear out the front hall closet for guests’ coats. Make sure all of your bathrooms are spotless.
- Cook in advance.
Don’t stress out by trying to cook everything on Thanksgiving day. Create a timeline, and figure out what can be made ahead of time. Casseroles can be pre-made. Vegetables can be chopped and ready to steam. Obviously some things can’t be cooked early, like the turkey, but almost everything else in the meal can be prepped and ready to just pop on the stovetop or into the oven.
- Make sure the house is well-lit – inside and out.
You may be familiar with all of your dark corners, but your guests aren’t. Make sure all outdoor lights are working. Inside, make sure area rugs are either safely fastened or pull them up. Remember to child proof if little ones will be visiting – matches, medications, etc.
- Set the table(s) in advance.
As long as you don’t have to worry about pets or small children destroying your dining room table, set it several days before the holiday. That way you won’t be scrambling to find the best china that’s somewhere in the basement; cleaning the dust off the wine glasses that are on that high shelf in the kitchen; or counting the flatware only to discover you don’t have enough right before the first guest rings the bell.
- Offer snacks before dinner.
Tasty appetizers benefit the cook as much as the guests. They stay busy munching while you finish up in the kitchen! Try nuts, crackers and cheese, crudité or hot apps.
- Keep the kids busy.
For children, it seems like Thanksgiving dinner takes foreveeeer to land on the table. Keep ’em occupied with cute and crafty projects they can assemble with a favorite relative.
Most of all, remember to have fun. Enjoy the day and the time you spend with family and friends!