Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Yeah, me too. At first, I was so stressed out because I will be feeding not just 10.... not just 20..... but 30 people on Thanksgiving! My first thought when I made the guest list was, ‘how on earth do I know this many people?’ My second thought was, ‘how on earth do I make this easier on myself?’
If you are hosting Thanksgiving chances are you have had this same thought, so I decided to put together my top 12 tips for making this year stress free. Are you ready for this?
1. Delegate side dishes and desserts: I know we all like to feel like a super hero and do it all during the holidays, but the task of making a huge turkey, 6 different sides, and 3 desserts is stress you don't need. And to be honest... for most people it is impossible. If you are hosting, pick a few of the main items you will be in charge of and delegate the rest. You will enjoy your Thanksgiving so much more if you're not running around like a turkey with its head cut off! (get it? haha)
2. Make a plan to manage dishes: Your dishwasher is only so big and probably can't handle an entire Thanksgiving Days’ worth of dishes in one load. So here are some tips for staying on top of them and making your day so much easier.
- Run all your current dirty dishes the night before, making sure your sink is cleared out. Then, the morning of Thanksgiving, empty and put away your load of clean dishes. This way you start the day fresh!
- Eat on paper plates and use plastic utensils for breakfast and lunch.
- Delegate dishes to one family member. They will be in charge of helping you stay on top of them throughout the entire day.
- Do multiple loads of dishes throughout the day if necessary because having dishes stacked up to the ceiling is stressful. If you can get 1-2 loads done before the food is ready, it will cut clean up time in half so you can enjoy your company after dinner is done.
3. Take your dishes and decorations out 1-2 days before: On Thanksgiving Day, the last thing you want to think about is where your serving dishes and decorations are. Take the time a few days before to gather all your place settings and decorations so you know you have everything. Setting up the tables is fun and if you already have everything out, it will be EASY. Ask a friend or family member to help with set up the day of so you can focus on making food.
4. Keep everyone entertained: Things happen and sometimes dinner gets delayed. This can be detrimental to the day if everyone is sitting around staring at the clock. However, if you plan ahead a little, you won't have to worry because everyone will be busy having fun! Get out the card games, board games, yard games, and movies. Not only does this entertain your guest but it also keeps everyone out of the kitchen which makes preparation that much easier.
5. Meal prep ahead of time: Prep as much food as you can ahead of time. Wash your veggies, peel and quarter your potatoes and store them in water in the fridge for a day or two, blanch your beans, put butter on/in a serving dish, set out all of the dry goods you will need (flour, broth, salt, pepper, etc.), get all of your pots and pans and cooking utensils out and ready. This can save you hours!
6. Have baggies and to-go containers for leftovers: Let's face it. No matter how hard you try, you are going to have an overwhelming amount of leftovers. Have baggies and to-go containers ready so you can share with your guests. The to go containers don't have to be fancy and you can usually find inexpensive packs that you won't miss so you won't have to worry about getting your containers back.
7. Clear out the fridge: You are going to have food galore and the majority of it will need to be refrigerated. Take some time the week leading up to Thanksgiving to clear our all your old food. To make even more room, take out items like pickles, jam, and sour cream and store them in a cooler for the day. Having that space cleared out and ready will take out the added stress of "THERE IS NO ROOM ANYWHERE!"
8. Be aware of the temperature of your house: There is nothing worse than 30 people packed around a dining table dripping with sweat. Trust me... I have been there and I never want to go back. Turn your heat off in the morning and even open up a window close to the oven. With the stove and oven going all morning, getting hot is not just a possibility... it is a guarantee. Ask a family member to keep you updated on the temperature so you know if you need to crack a window. Keeping your guests comfortable is a must and this is a way you can do that easily.
9. Have a designated serving area: Decide where you want your serving area to be ahead of time, so when your guests bring their side dish or dessert you have a place for it. You can also add a sign that says "serving area" so everyone knows to not stack their jackets and bags there.
10. Order a turkey from a butcher shop: The difference in taste between a fresh turkey and a frozen one is indescribable. Fresh is SO much better. Not only that, but with a fresh turkey you don't have to worry about thawing times.
11. Take advantage of grocery store pick up: Order online and have it delivered straight to your car. It is free and saves hours of wandering around a store!
12. EAT EARLY: This is my number one tip. Most people work up their appetite all day for the dinner of the year and let's be honest... most of them don't want to wait until 7:30 pm to eat. By that time everyone is starving and grumpy!! Consider eating around 2:00-3:00 pm. If you use the steps above to ensure you stay on time, Thanksgiving can be a breeze!