In the world of Thanksgiving feasts, there is a broad spectrum of hosts. On one end there’s the “hostess with the mostest” who produces such a flawless dinner you wonder if she secretly has a fairy godmother. On the other, there’s the hostess that scrambles at the last minute, leaving anxious guests with only bottles of wine that slowly deplete before dinner is served. No matter where you are on this spectrum, if you’ve hosted this time-honored U.S. tradition you know it requires a lot of work to pull off a memorable meal!
When it comes to preparing a relaxed and timely Thanksgiving dinner, it goes without saying preparation is key for success. For a host who loves this holiday above all, there are guidelines to follow that eliminate the stress that comes from creating a cozy and thoughtful atmosphere for my guests. The ultimate goal, besides a delicious meal, is to make everyone feel at ease, have fun and linger through dessert as if they were at home. After all, this is a celebration of gratitude for the friends and family you have invited!
Our Thanksgivings this year might be a little smaller and look a little different than in years past. Regardless, it’s still a grand production! Here are my favorite organizational tips for a stress-free feast.
Tip #1 – Plan your menu early.
Are you hosting a potluck or running the whole show? Be specific with your side-dish requests from guests, and don’t be afraid to tell someone not to bring something that doesn’t complement your meal. Gather your favorite recipes and consider testing any new ones that inspire you.
Tip #2 – Pre-organization and kitchen decluttering make a huge difference.
The week before, do a full-on fridge cleanout. Toss out expired and freezer-burned food and sanitize shelves. Organize your pantry and create an inventory checklist for essentials like flour, sugar and pumpkin pie spices. Having a clean and clutter-free kitchen before you start cooking will reduce stress. Plus, you’ll need the extra fridge space for leftovers!
Tip #3 – Shop for or pre-order your groceries early.
Don’t wait until the last minute! There is nothing more stressful than an H-E-B parking lot the day before Thanksgiving! Start purchasing shelf-stable items weeks in advance so all that’s left are fresh foods to buy the week of. Also stock up on booze and other drinks in advance.
Tip #4 – Stretch out your cooking.
Most casseroles, gravies and pies can be made 1-2 days in advance. Plan out your cooking agenda so you’re not stuck cooking past midnight the night before. A good party host needs beauty sleep!
Tip #5 – Delegate.
Ask your significant other to sparkle clean the guest bathroom the day of. Tell your mom to bring her famous deviled eggs. And when anyone asks what to bring—always tell them beer, wine or ice!
Start the evening with an empty dishwasher. It’s the fastest path to cleanup when the feast is over.
Want more tips + recipes?
Check out www.space-thyme.co