A lot of hard work goes into preparing Thanksgiving dinner. This can be very stressful for the host, especially if it is your first time hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Thankfully, pun intended, here are 15 easy tips that will turn any rookie host into a pro.
1. MANAGE YOUR TIME
Good time management is a must when cooking a large meal. Be sure to determine the order you will cook each dish. Some foods can be prepped while others are cooking. Decide which dishes can wait until last.
2. MAKE A SHOPPING LIST
Carefully examine the necessary ingredients for each recipe, then create a shopping list that includes each item. Make a separate list for non-food items. Having a list will help you stay focused when you enter the sea of food in the grocery store.
3.USE “ONE POUND PER GUEST” RULE FOR TURKEY SIZE
Using a turkey that weighs about one pound per guest in attendance will allow people to get seconds and have leftovers for later.
4. LEAVE ENOUGH TIME FOR THE TURKEY TO THAW
Don’t forget to factor in the time needed to properly thaw the turkey. Approximately 24 hours per every 4-5 pounds of turkey is needed to thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator. Refer to chart for example.
– 10 pounds — 2 days plus 12 hours – 15 pounds — 3 days plus 18 hours – 20 pounds — 5 days – 25 pounds — 6 days plus 6 hours
5. COOK SIDE DISHES A DAY EARLY
Make as much food as possible in advance. Simply cover with aluminum foil and reheat on Thanksgiving Day. This will free up some time for you to socialize with guest instead of being trapped in a hot kitchen.
6. BUY PRE-MADE FOOD
Do not stress about trying to cook everything from scratch, especially if you’re not good at making a particular dish on your menu. Buy it pre-made and add your own touches (garnish etc.) to it. Then place the food in a fancy dish, and voila, done.
7. MAKE DISHES YOU HAVE MADE BEFORE
Don’t add extra stress by trying to figure out a new recipe and hoping it goes well. Cook what you are familiar with. You could even practice making a dish in advance, or simply buy anything you are not comfortable with cooking yourself.
8. MAKE ROOM IN THE FRIDGE/FREEZER THE DAY BEFORE
Get rid of old food, your stash of restaurant condiments, and anything else of no use in your refrigerator in order to make space for your Thanksgiving meal and leftovers.
9. HAVE EXTRA APPETIZERS AS BACK-UPS
Just in case your meal timing gets thrown off, have light appetizers for your guests to snack on while you finish up the meal preparation.
10. SET THE TABLE THE NIGHT BEFORE
So, you’ve found the perfect table setting idea on Pinterest. Well, set the table the night before that way you won’t use up time doing so the day of. This will also allow you the time needed to get the table set just right.
11. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
Say yes to help that is offered to you, or ask for assistance if you need help pulling everything together. Delegating tasks to others will get them done faster and take some pressure off of you.
12. GET PLASTIC CONTAINERS FOR YOUR GUESTS TO TAKE LEFTOVERS
Do not. I repeat. Do not bust out the plastic bags from underneath your kitchen sink and give them to your guests to tote leftovers home in. Invest in some cheap plastic containers for leftovers.
13. HAVE GUESTS ARRIVE 45 MINUTES BEFORE DINNER
Requesting that your guests arrive about 45 minutes before you plan to serve the meal will allow you time to socialize with them and enjoy their company prior to focusing on serving the food. You can strategically arrange place cards at the table to maximize the flow of conversation, which is especially handy if guests do not know one another.
14. HAVE CRAFTS AND GAMES FOR THE CHILDREN
Having activities for the children will keep them occupied and out of the adults’ hair for a while. Placing small finger foods like, raisins and marshmallows, on the table will help keep their attention during dinner.
15. RELAX, RELATE, RELEASE
This is perhaps the most important tip. Do not get so caught up in presentation that you lose sight of the true meaning of the day. Thanksgiving is a day to spend with people you love and express gratitude for all that you have. It is a day that should be filled with joy and cheer. So, breathe. Stay calm. And relax. Enjoy yourself. Be sure to take some time to yourself before guests arrive to just de-stress and relax.
You may be a rookie, but with these tips, you will host Thanksgiving Day like a pro.