So you’ve accepted the task of hosting your first Thanksgiving, and your pre-hosting freak-out session will commence shortly. This is your moment to leave a lasting impression, and either show off your first (and only) time hosting to any naysayers, or prove that you can, and will continue to win the game that is hosting.
If you want your day to go as seamlessly as possible, it’s best to start looking forward sooner rather than later. Seeing as we’re now a few days from the big day, you’ve probably spent countless time and energy agonizing and celebrating the opportunity.
Whatever you’re feeling, you’ve got this. With the help of these eight tips, you’ll get through Thanksgiving as the host (or hostess) with the most (or most-ess).
1. Plan First, Feast Later
You’ve probably already been planning for some time now in regards to recipes, head counts, and who’s bringing what. Now it’s all about table settings, dishware, utensils, salt shakers and all the other minute things that could slip your mind. Do you have enough forks for all your guests? What’s your plate situation looking like? Do you have a table setting—period?
Think about the quintessential items and elements to your regular Thanksgiving Day, and plan now so that you won’t be stressing the day of because you are short five plates and two casserole dishes.
2. Don’t Forget The Classics
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There’s so much innovation that transpires from one generation to the next in regards to cooking for the holidays.
In the midst of that innovation, classic recipes get easily booted to make room for that kale casserole Uncle Joe said tastes just like sweet potato casserole. You can try the casserole, but don’t neglect the classics, like stuffing and gravy. Everyone likes stuffing, right?
3. Map Out Your Table
If you’ve ever experienced the stress on the guest-side of table arrangements, then you can (and should) expect that stress to be tripled when you’re hosting. Make sure there are enough spots for everyone at one table and that you have a table setting in general.
Think about it, every holiday party or family occasion you’ve attended and table you’ve sat at probably had a specific layout, and the host probably had some sort of idea where people would sit. If the MVPs of Thanksgiving’s pasts did it, there’s likely a reason. With that being said, go get you some table settings!
4. Fresh, Never Frozen
We’ve been talking about fresh over frozen turkeys since Ina Garten entered our homes, speaking wonders of and swearing by fresh turkeys. In addition to Garten’s expert advice, there’s the fact that frozen turkeys are processed specifically to be frozen.
In translation, they aren’t handled in the most ethical or health-conscious ways. You want the best for your guests, and yourself. Get the fresh turkey, and thank us after everyone thanks you.
5. Stay Organized
This could blend in with the whole planning thing, but we’re going to expand on the thought. Prior to the big day, get out all of your dishes that’ll be on the table, and ensure they all have matching pairs and are clean. Even set the table a day before if it’ll take some of the stress off of your back.
Knowing exactly where everything is will let you see things more clearly and with greater enjoyment the day of. This is your first time hosting, after all! Best to be set up for success from the get-go, right?
6. Know Your Dishes
You’ll be seeing, and cleaning, a lot of dishes and traveling containers on Thanksgiving. There’s always one person who thinks they have their five casserole dishes and two pie pans, yet accidentally still manage to steal the host’s.
Instead of letting your dishes and pans get lost in the excitement, know what’s yours, and pay attention to who brought what.
7. Less Isn’t More
Okay, this is true only a handful of times, but this is one them. It’s Thanksgiving after all, and your guests are either starving or have been saving up for this day for two weeks and are ready to chow down.
Cook for more than one serving per person, and leave room for leftovers. Thanksgiving feasts are just as good the next day (and the next . . . and the one after that, too).
8. Have Fun!
Don’t let the stress or build up of the day ruin it for you. Just because you’re hosting doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to take a step back, have a glass of wine, chat with friends and family, and. . .have fun!
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be stressful, and it’s a lot more fun when you realize you’re surrounded by all of the love in the world. Plus, add in these little turkey treats to your dessert table, and there’s no way it’ll be a gloomy, stress-filled day.