Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

Time flies by. Thanksgiving is over a week away. Many revel in this celebrated holiday to enjoy the company of their families and close friends. However, for some, it can also get the nerves to a record high, especially if you’re hosting the annual feast. Whether it’s your first rodeo or you’re a pro, we can all take a little time out to brush up on some tips that will help your Thanksgiving feast run smoothly (and ensure that you won’t rip your hair out).

1.) Make a Schedule and Abide By It

It may sound a little ridiculous, but make a schedule of the day’s flow and stick to it. Yes, you should even schedule when you’re going to wake up and take a shower because the day IS that jam-packed. Give yourself ample time to primp and prepare before guests arrive. Figure out when drinks and appetizers will be served and schedule when various dishes make their rotation in the oven. Allow some flex time just in case things veer off course and run a little behind.

2.) Prepare Menu Ahead

This is easy to overlook, but when it comes to menu planning, you cannot go on autopilot mode. Check in with all of your guests to make sure there are no allergies and dietary restrictions and make sure you have dishes available for anyone who needs alternatives to the main menu items. If you have a specific artisan item, reserve it or pick it up now. Local markets often fill up with reservations weeks ahead and seasonal items are in the highest demand of the year. If you cannot secure your first choice, there is still time to plan alternatives. If possible, pick multiple proteins and don’t be afraid to be bold and mix it up.

3.) Prepare As Much As You Can

You’re probably thinking “jeez, another planning item,” but preparation isn’t limited to menu planning. By now, your guest list should be set. Make sure you have an exact head count for both your invites and their guests (if applicable). Pick out the dishes and glassware that will be used for every dish. Also, don’t try to jam all of the food prep into the day itself. See if there are any dishes you can prepare ahead of time to save yourself some stress. Also, if you have guests who will be staying overnight, make sure to prepare their accommodations prior to the day of.

4.) Delegate Tasks

NEVER turn down help. We all know the feeling of wanting to be a good host and take care of everything, but this is a holiday of coming together and having all hands on deck. If someone offers to bring a dish, let them. If there are certain parts of the meal that stress you out, let someone else handle it or ask for advice. Delegating tasks can also be a tremendous help. If someone offers to help and you know they move at lightning speed, let them chop and peel vegetables. If culinary skills aren’t someone’s forte, have them do simple tasks like stir, pick herbs, and clean up. This is a group effort and no one should be in it alone.

5.) Allocate time to RELAX

Perhaps the most crucial (and most often forgotten) tip is making sure you give yourself and everyone in attendance time to relax. Thanksgiving is about enjoying each other’s company, not constantly entertaining. If your family loves football, give yourself some room to watch a game before or after dinner. If you have traditions like playing games, make sure you allow time for that. Like all things in life, nothing is perfect, so if something doesn’t turn out just right or go as expected, relax. Gratitude and joy are the ultimate goals of this holiday and you’re going to do just fine!