When it’s time to host your first Thanksgiving, it’s truly time to put your adulting skills to the test. With these 12 simple tips, you’ll be stress-free by the time your turkey comes out of the oven.
Never say no to help
Your thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to come from you entirely, as it is often a potluck affair, when friends and family bring their own dishes to support the host. Delegation is the name of the game, so if any part of the meal stresses you out, call someone!
The host will usually be responsible for the turkey and the gravy, anything else can realistically be brought by other people. But, surely you’ll want to show off your cooking skills with as much as you can provide.
Make as much as you can ahead of time
The most stressful part of hosting a Thanksgiving meal is rushing to do several jobs at once towards the end while your guests are patiently, or not so patiently, waiting for their feast. When planning your menu, it’s best to think of dishes that can be made well ahead of time, to leave as few jobs as possible on the big day.
If you work full-time, it may be best to do one element after work each day leading up to the dinner, then you’ll have a more manageable time cooking the final meal.
Now’s not the time to experiment
As much as you really want to wow your guests, now’s the time to stick to what you know is good, and what you know you can pull off. Your turkey is the centrepiece, so especially if it’s your first time, leave your brain free to deal with cooking that well. Following one new recipe is hard enough, let alone two or three!
Start preparing non-food items early
Aside from making the food, you also have other tasks to complete ahead of your guests’ arrival. Dishes need to be washed, silverware needs to be acquired, and napkins need to be bought. This can all be done the week before, just double check you have enough of everything.
Consider making the turkey a day ahead
Just like the supporting elements, the turkey itself can be made ahead of time to make the process easier on the day. Once cooked, carve the meat into a container and use a crockpot to reheat the meat until it's warm, tender and ready to serve. You can even use the turkey bones to make a rich stock for your gravy.
But, if you want that show stopping perfect turkey, go for it on the day!
Set the table the night before
If the table is set already, you won’t have to fuss over it on the day. Get excited the night before and prepare your perfect table ahead of time. If you have cats, throw a sheet over the table.
This is also your time to think about who is going to sit where, and plan the perfect evening.
Have alcohol ready to go
You should have wine chilling in the fridge, or even better, a pitcher of a homemade cocktail ready to go for the night. A festive favourite is cranberry simple syrup, vodka, club soda and lime juice. Everyone will be happy with a glass in their hand, leaving you unbothered in the kitchen as you prepare to serve.
It’s fine to buy parts of the meal
Almost every household will have a mix of store-bought and homemade items, so don’t feel pressure to make sure everything on the table is lovingly homemade. If you’re not a strong baker, buy dessert! If you’re worried your gravy won’t be on point, you can buy some specially made! It’s no big deal.
Remember, you can always ask other people to bring additional dishes like appetisers and desserts.
Make a timeline and master list
Minimise your stress by planning ahead of time when things need to happen, such as times things go in the oven, and so forth. Things don’t have to be finished at the same time, but you should count backwards to make sure there is enough time for everything. Include taking a shower and getting ready on that list!
Relax, have fun, and be thankful!
When all your hard work has finally paid off, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the family holiday, and be thankful for what you have. Hopefully, as you’re gathered around the table with your family and a feast, you’ll have lots to be thankful for.