Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner can be a stressful ordeal. The actual cooking itself is enough to ratchet up anxiety levels, but there are a wide range of other considerations that make the holiday nerve-racking for those who are hosting guests. This might sound like an intimidating endeavor, but fear not! With some careful planning, you will be able to host the perfect Thanksgiving feast and provide a fantastic time for friends and loved ones.
The natural place to begin your Thanksgiving planning is with the food itself. A couple weeks prior to the big meal, start planning your menu. Turkey is a natural consideration, of course, but some families also include ham at the dinner table. Do you have interest in serving both, or do you want to keep it traditional and only prepare a large bird? Either way, develop your menu around these main dishes.
For the vegetarian crowd, you will likely pass on the turkey or ham options and instead focus on a different centerpiece for your meal. There are certainly non-meat options available and one such consideration is tofurkey. Tofurkey is a meat substitute — made from either wheat or soybean (tofu) protein — that is shaped to look like a turkey breast and often will be stuffed with traditional stuffing. There are several brands available in the marketplace and this provides a nice option for anyone who abstains from eating meat.
Beyond the turkey, ham or tofurkey, no Thanksgiving menu is complete without side dishes. Mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry dishes are staples at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but don’t forget about such important pieces as casseroles, warm bread or rolls, and pumpkin pie or other desserts.
To help keep your stress levels down as much as possible, prepare your menu well in advance and make your big grocery trip at least a week prior to the big day. For this trip, be sure to pick up every item you can that won’t perish in the week-plus ahead. If you are including any vegetables or fruit, leave those for a day or two before preparing your Thanksgiving meal.
Food is the major focus of a Thanksgiving dinner, but having the right beverages is also an important consideration. If you are hosting adults, wine is popular option for the holiday celebration. In the past, white wine was considered to be the appropriate accompanying drink to go with turkey, but electing to go with red wine is no longer the social faux pas it had once been. If your budget allows for this, having both red and white wine options is ideal to accommodate all guests.
Not everyone enjoys drinking wine — and it certainly is not a preferred option for minors — so you will have to give consideration to other drink options. There are a wide range of recipes for holiday punch and this can be perfect for the non-wine drinkers at your Thanksgiving celebration. Another non-alcoholic option that fits in quite well with the season is apple cider, served either hot or cold.
If you have made the decision to host a Thanksgiving dinner, then it is highly likely that you have already given thought to the fact that you will need to have room for your guests. In the weeks leading up to the holiday celebration, start thinking about the actual arrangement of the room(s) where everyone will eat.
In addition to the room(s), it is very important to evaluate your silverware and flatware situations. Do you already have enough utensils and plates and dishes to accommodate all of your guests? If not, you will need to address this issue. How you choose to do so, naturally, will depend on your financial situation. There are economically-viable options for anyone — with the right shopping — and if you start feeling stressed about this matter, keep in mind that your guests are guaranteed to remember the delicious food and great company more than anything else about the holiday.
You have your fabulous Thanksgiving menu planned… The beverages are already chilling for the big day… Every guest has a seat with his or her name on it… Now the last practical matter for your holiday festivities is to come up with a little entertainment.
If your guests are football fanatics, this can be an easy matter given that there are a couple of NFL games on every Thanksgiving. For the younger football-loving crowd — or even the older ones — consider the possibility of putting together a flag football game. Clearly, this might not work for those living on a densely-populated city block, but if the space allows for it, organizing a good ol’ game of football is an easy way to create an enjoyable experience for your guests. The requirements aren’t terribly demanding — a football, any easily-visible objects to mark the playing field and old hand towels or rags to be used as flags — and you can up the excitement level by offering a prize for the winners.
For guests who aren’t as inclined to partake in sports, games can be a great deal of fun in such a social setting. You already have friends and family together under one roof and tables are set up. This creates the perfect environment for board or card games. Within the last week before Thanksgiving, take some time to go through any board games you already own. Find ones that require multiple players and lots of interaction. Or if you have decks of cards around the home, put together a euchre tournament or a not-high stakes poker game.
Have a Good Time
After you have all the items on your Thanksgiving checklist crossed off, don’t forget to enjoy the holiday season. Take comfort in the fact that your menu is complete and you have all the requisite beverages. Your table(s) and settings are ready to go and you know exactly where everyone is going to sit. And there are games lined up and your guests are really going to enjoy themselves. Sounds like this will certainly be a nice Thanksgiving celebration!