Our annual time to give thanks can certainly cause a lot of stress—especially if you’re hosting. There’s preparing the house for family and friends to arrive and figuring out who will eat what. Is Aunt Sara still a vegetarian? Is mom still gluten-free? Is your sister still on a diet? And who was it that had the peanut allergy? And of course there’s figuring out just how you’re going to get it all done with just that one oven, and can you really afford to feed all those people right before your holiday shopping begins. Believe it or not, you (can and will) get it all done, and it will be awesome.
Here are a few tips to help you keep everyone happy, your sanity intact, and still have some fun.
Make a list and yes, check it twice. Plan out a schedule a few days before the holiday so you have a good sense of how early you’ll need to start preparing, how much time each task will require, and whether or not you’ll need help. Have all of your recipes ready to double (or triple) check to make sure you have all of the ingredients for anything you don’t plan on cooking in advance. You certainly don’t want a last-minute trip to the grocery store the day of.
Cook in advance as much as possible. Even if you decide to throw a potluck, there will still be plenty of food to prepare. Desserts, side dishes, anything that can be created, frozen and heated up later, you’ll want to make ahead of time. Less to do on the day of means less stress and more fun family time. You can also choose some recipes that don’t require your oven, so you and your oven are free to focus your attention on the turkey.
Let them eat cake. No, really, if they want to eat cake, so be it. These days, everyone may have a particular diet they’re trying to stick to based on need and preference. Or, maybe they’re just picky eaters. Don’t let that stress you out, make it a potluck! This way, everyone is happy (and you can save a buck or two).
Get fancy. There are plenty of low-cost ways you can add some fun décor to your dinner. A couple of ideas include: (1) Place cards. They’re a classy little touch that can also help avoid dinner time drama if there are a few family members who just don’t mix together. (2) Table decorations. Head down to the dollar store and grab some mason jars. You can fill these with flowers (real or otherwise), fake fall leaves, or even tea lights. Pinterest is your friend here if you need other table decoration ideas.
Keep them entertained. One way to get everyone involved with a project while you ready the kitchen is with a “grateful message board.” Have a corkboard or pin board set up on a central location with pens or markers. The kids can keep busy for a while cutting out leaves from construction paper. When they’re done, the adults can keep busy writing down what they are thankful for on a leaf and pinning it to the board.
Yes, there’s a lot to do when you’re hosting Thanksgiving, but if you take care of a little at a time, you’ll be in great shape the day of and ready for family, football, and lots and lots of food.
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