I am one of those people who refuses to listen to Christmas music, watch Hallmark, or even decorate before Thanksgiving. Every year, I am bummed that this holiday is glossed over after Halloween. Fall is my favorite season and I enjoy cooking and eating so you know Thanksgiving is my favorite!
While I don’t host my family’s Thanksgiving feast, I do host an annual Friendsgiving celebration. Even though I love doing it, hosting can be stressful! As the hostess with the mostess, you want everything to be perfect. Here are some tips to help you get started TODAY with planning your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebrations so that you can pride yourself on another great year while still taking time to enjoy it yourself!
Make a guest list.
The guest list not only includes the names of your guests, but get a head count of partners and children who will be attending the festivities. This will help you to plan your menu and make sure there will be enough food and place settings for everyone. This is also a good time to find out any dietary restrictions. While planning my Friendsgiving, one of my friends informed me she was dairy-free. This helps me to plan to offer plenty of options for that person to enjoy.
Plan your dishes and get your guests involved
What are you planning on making? Determine which dishes you are going to make now and plan to eliminate a few. We always seem to make way more dishes than needed. Keep it simple! When talking to guests, ask what they would like to bring. Most guests want to contribute something to the celebration, and it will help you to determine what parts of the meal are missing. Looking for some new recipes to try? My favorite go-to recipes come from Half Baked Harvest and Cravings by Chrissy Teigen.
PRO TIP: Whoever suggests it, makes it.
What this means is that if someone mentions a dish they would like to have at the Thanksgiving meal, then they are in charge of it! I’ve seen many hosts who make dishes they might not even like, just because someone requests it. NOT IN MY HOUSE. You want it, you make it! I’ll even send you a recipe for it :)
Clean out your pantry, fridge, and re-useable containers.
Take 30 minutes this week to check expiration dates on any items in your pantry and refrigerator and throw away any expired items. This is also the time to clean out those plastic containers! Toss any items that don’t have a matching lid and bottom. Use what’s left to send home leftovers with your guests and purchase yourself a fresh new set.
Make a grocery list and start shopping now!
Using your recipes, make a grocery list of non-perishable items you will need, and buy them this week. This can include any wine or alcohol you will need for your celebration. Plan on shopping for produce Monday or Tuesday the week of Thanksgiving when the stores aren’t as crowded.
Create a “fire plan” for the big day.
Make a schedule using the cooking temperatures and times for each dish. Work backwards from the time you want the meal to be served.
Use/Borrow slow cookers and instant pots
Don’t have a lot of oven space? Consider making a dish or two in your slow cooker or instant pot. Don’t have one? Borrow one from a guest!
If you can make your entire dish a day or two before the big day, go for it! Items such as desserts and casseroles can usually be made a day or two before. Consider what dishes can be made early and get it done! If your dish won’t taste good unless it’s freshly made, prep all of your veggies by chopping everything and putting them in marked containers in the fridge.
Decorate the day before.
Set the table and decorate for your Thanksgiving feast a day or two before. Have kids? Get them involved in the decorating process!
Focus on de-cluttering high traffic areas.
You won’t have time to organize and de-clutter the whole house. . Focus on the areas your guests will use such as bathrooms, living room, dining room, and guest rooms.
Ask for help when you need it.
You don't have to do it all yourself and no one is expecting you to. Delegate as many tasks as you can!
Enjoy this time with family and friends.
The holidays are such a special time, and we can get wrapped up in trying to make everything perfect. Please remember to relax, spend time with your family and friends, and have a glass of wine because you deserve it!