Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can make even the bravest of home cooks tremble in their house slippers. But this year, fear not. Set some reasonable goals and create a game plan for yourself. Remember, Thanksgiving is about sharing a feast with the people you care about. So make it easy on yourself. You’ll spend more time with your loved ones and less time panicking in the kitchen.
1. CREATE A GUEST LIST
Make a list of the people that are important to be with on Thanksgiving. Keep it reasonable and within your capacity. If you want to invite more people than you think you can cook for, think about a potluck approach to share the responsibilities. Send out your invitations early and make it clear what time you’d like them to arrive and what time you’re expecting to eat.
2. COUNT IT OUT
Based on number of guests, figure out how much you’ll need to serve. It’s always better to overestimate. You want to ensure everyone is well fed, and hopefully you’ll have leftovers. If you’re cooking a turkey, plan on one to two pounds per person. Make sure you’ve got enough dishes, silverware, napkins and chairs for all your guests.
3. PLAN YOUR MENU
Pick your dishes and create a menu. Make a list of everything you’ll need to put it all together. Print or write out recipes ahead of time. If you’re going to view them on a computer or a tablet, have the links ready so they’re easily accessible.
4. MAKE A TIMELINE
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, look at what you can do to prepare. Create a checklist of what needs to be done and when. The day of the feast will be a busy one for your oven, so plan accordingly.
5. THINK AHEAD
Figure out which steps can be done ahead of time. You can chop vegetables, grate cheese, measure out seasonings, make [appetizers], bake desserts and prepare components of dishes. And if there’s a new recipe you’ve never tried out, do a trial run to test it out. If you plan on serving drinks other than wine or beer, mix them in advance so you don’t have to play bartender on Thanksgiving Day.
6. ASK FOR HELP
Don’t hesitate to ask a close friend or family member to help out. You can always ask guests to bring a side or a dessert. Remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself.
7. MAKE SPACE
Clean out the fridge and clear off the countertops. If you need more room to work, pull out an extra table. Organize your kitchen for the big day. Make sure everything you need is clean and easy to find.
8. SET THE MOOD
Create a playlist with music that suits the type of atmosphere you’d like to have, or find an online station to stream music. There are many that have Thanksgiving-themed stations at the ready. And if you’d like softer lighting, pick up candles and something to put them in.
9. ORDER IN
Not everything on your table has to be made in your kitchen. There’s no shame in ordering elements for your meal or even the turkey itself. You can get a wide variety of side dishes, desserts and complete dinners online. Our [Holiday Turkey Feast], to name one.
10. ENJOY YOUR CELEBRATION
At the end of the day, there will be some ups and some downs to your Thanksgiving dinner. Be proud that no matter what, you did it. And know that if you don’t want to do it ever again, you don’t have to.
Hopefully this list made it a little easier so you can enjoy your time with family and friends. Did we forget anything? Let us know what suggestions you have for making Thanksgiving easier.