Do nightmares of burnt turkey haunt your sleep? While some people stress for weeks prior to Thanksgiving, I actually enjoy planning parties and family gatherings–as long as everything goes as planned, that is. And that is why you need to start making plans as soon as you find out it’s your turn to host Thanksgiving dinner. Give yourself plenty of time to get everything together, and you will be able to enjoy the holiday as much as the rest of your family. Then watch as everything falls into place. Here are some tips to help you host Thanksgiving this year without (as much) stress.
1. Outline the menu before anything else. Food preparation is often the most stressful part of planning a Thanksgiving meal, so write each item on a piece of paper, from appetizers to the dessert. Think about the type of meal you are going to prepare; will it be a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey and gravy? Then don’t forget the pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. If you are going to try something different this year, consider putting together a taco bar or Italian buffet. To avoid stressful complaints at dinnertime, try to plan a meal that will please as many guests possible.
2. Create a shopping list for items on the menu. I find that it is easier to break down the menu items in order to plan for each ingredient. Don’t forget even the staple ingredients in each dish; they can be easy to overlook if you think you already have it in your cabinets. But having to run to the grocery store as you are making Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful, mainly because most stores are closed on this holiday. So don’t overlook anything, including beverages and extra ingredients–just in case something doesn’t work out right.
3. Share the cooking responsibilities. Why should you have to provide all the food for your Thanksgiving guests? It’s a big meal that is very time-consuming to make. No matter where Thanksgiving dinner is hosted, contributing even one dish has always been expected of adult members in my family, at least in my mind. Share your list with each of the adults and let them choose a dish to bring. Give them your list of ingredients for that list. Now cross these items off your list and get some shopping done.
4. Prepare adequate seating for guests. When you come from a large family, it’s not always possible for every member to sit at the dining table. When I was a kid, we used to sit on living room furniture, the floor, and basically anywhere we could find a place to sit, while the adults ate at the table. But is it really a good idea to let kids eat in the living room? They are prone to spills, which means they shouldn’t be eating over the living room carpet. If you have nice flooring, avoid worrying about spills on the carpet by providing tables for the kids to sit at.
5. Keep kids out the the kitchen. Remember waiting impatiently to eat Thanksgiving dinner when you were little? I do. It can get really boring for kids when the adults are busy preparing the food, especially during Thanksgiving. Keep the kids from running into the kitchen every five minutes by giving them fun activities to do. Plan coloring activities, board games, and even crafts for them to work on while dinner is in the oven.
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