Thanksgiving is a holiday many people look forward to pretty much all year long. Whether it’s the pumpkin pie that gets you excited or the chance to spend time with extended family you don’t get to see often, Thanksgiving can be a wonderful respite from day to day life.
Thanksgiving can also create a lot of stress. That’s especially true if you’re the one that’s doing the planning for the first time. From wrangling relatives to getting the food on the table at the right time, planning this holiday can be pretty intense.
Use this guide to learn more about planning Thanksgiving for the very first time.
Get Your Guest List Early
Hosting a Thanksgiving meal is about more than just perfecting your green bean recipe. In fact, one of the hardest parts of hosting a Thanksgiving event is trying to figure out who is going to come and if they’ll actually show up.
To make sure you get everything right on the big day, take the time to send out invitations – they can be paper or digital – and count RSVPs. Without doing this, you won’t know how many places to set at the table or what to expect when Thanksgiving actually comes around.
You’re not going to know how much food to buy for Thanksgiving either. Nobody wants to go to a Thanksgiving dinner that runs out of turkey, dressing or pie.
Make Food Ahead Of Time
Not all Thanksgiving dishes are ones that you can make ahead of time and pop in the microwave right before you serve them. For the most part, the food you’re going to serve on Thanksgiving won’t get better if you make it a day early and let it sit.
However, you can do all of your prep work well ahead of time so you’re just assembling dishes on the big day. For example, traditional dressing that’s baked in the oven requires a lot of chopping of carrots, onions, celery and herbs.
Do that early in the morning or the day before and put your ingredients aside in bowls. When it’s time to put the dressing in the oven, you can put it all in a baking dish and cook it quickly.
Other items like cranberry sauce can be made the day before. Even pies can be made early if you’re the one making those as well.
Have Your Table Set
As a Thanksgiving Day host, there’s nothing more stressful than trying to greet guests as they arrive, cook a huge meal and set the table at the same time. In fact, there’s not a restaurant in the world where the host, chef and server are the same person.
You’re not running a restaurant, but getting your table setting out of the way early will help on Thanksgiving. Set that table the day before, early in the morning before you start cooking, or have somebody else dedicated to the job.
Accept Help When Offered
Thanksgiving is a holiday where a lot of people want to stay out of the kitchen. Maybe they’ve done the hosting before or they just don’t think they’re quite savvy enough to cook for a big group. If you’ve taken on the challenge, you should be praised by all at your dinner table.
There’s no shame in accepting help when hosting Thanksgiving, though. Whether that means somebody bringing a pie, or a friend that knows how to cook pitching in and doing prep work with you, accepting help on Thanksgiving Day can reduce your stress level.
Don’t worry – you’ll still get the credit for the amazing meal.