Taking on hosting duties for Thanksgiving is a bold yet rewarding decision. There is a lot to do, such as cleaning and preparing the house, setting up tables, making sure you have enough dishware and ingredients, and ensuring you’re well stocked with everything that anyone might need. When done right, hosting a holiday dinner is very fun and exciting.
When done wrong, hosting Thanksgiving can be stressful. However, having a stressful hosting experience is completely avoidable. Find success by planning ahead, and following these tips to ensure that not only your guests are happy and stress-free, but so are you!
How to Host Thanksgiving Dinner Stress-Free
Share the workload with a buddy.
Hosting your first Thanksgiving, or any special dinner, can be a lot for just one person to handle alone. Enlist a close friend to co-host the gathering with you! Have them show up early to help you prepare place settings, run to the store if you forgot anything, and pour you a glass of wine if you start feeling overwhelmed. Having a friend for support will take a huge weight off your shoulders.
Get crazy organized.
And when we say crazy, we mean crazy. Make a list of anything and everything you might possibly need a good week or two ahead of your dinner. Compile a detailed list of which recipes you plan to make (including preparation time and oven time), along with a separate list with all of the ingredients. Don’t forget to include alcoholic beverages, True Citrus packets for your non-drinking friends to enjoy, and extra toilet paper!
Pump up the jams!
Have a few playlists lined up and ready to go to help set the mood. Listening to music is a wonderful way to reduce stress, so turn up some Lizzo and shake it while you’re preparing everything, then queue up a relaxing jazz dinner party playlist when guests begin to arrive.
Choose to make recipes ahead of time.
Make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes are total lifesavers. They reduce the amount of work you have to do the day of hosting, and allow you to focus more on the experience of your guests rather than preparing everything at the same time. Some perfect dishes to make ahead are: cranberry sauce, casseroles, gravy, and dessert. Give some of these make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes a try - you’ll be very glad you did.
Balance the technical recipes with super easy ones.
You don’t have a team of sous chefs helping you chop and prepare everything you want to make for dinner (unfortunately). Instead of using all labor-intensive recipes, balance your choices with easy throw-together recipes that are still crowd pleasers. Think roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, boxed stuffing, or green bean casserole.
Make sure you have the kitchen tools you need.
If this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving dinner, you need to make sure you have certain supplies. A meat thermometer is essential as is a roasting pan, although you can purchase a disposable one to cut back on cost. Be sure to confirm the number of people attending too in case you need to get compostable plates, forks, and extra cups. Double-check your crazy organized checklist, and make sure you have enough serving dishes for everything you’re planning to make too.
Remember dietary restrictions.
These days many people choose to eat differently, whether a gluten-free diet, vegetarian or vegan, or because of specific food allergies. Ask your guests if they have any restrictions and be mindful when cooking. You don’t have to make everything to fit their diet, but make changes where you can. For example, if a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, use the gluten-free kind, or if it calls for cheese sprinkled on top leave it on the side - the same goes for leaving bacon on the side from vegetables for vegetarians. Your guests will truly appreciate the effort!
Keep the turkey simple.
Making a Thanksgiving turkey isn’t as difficult as you may think. The important part is to begin thinking about preparation a good week ahead of time, such as defrosting (which can take between 3-5 days), and if it needs to sit in brine the night before cooking. Prepare ahead, and it’ll be really great the day-of. And hey, if not just be sure you make some really good gravy.
Most importantly, remember that Thanksgiving is about being with the people you love, relaxing, and enjoying a meal together. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for help when you need it either. When you follow these simple tips, you will be sure to host a memorable, fun, and stress-free Thanksgiving dinner.
[Credit: Bruno, Audrey. “I've Been Hosting Thanksgiving for 5 Years and Here Are My Tips.” Self.]
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