You can directly tie your Thanksgiving experience to which stage of life you’re in. Hear us out: when you’re a kid, Thanksgiving means having family over (or going to a family member’s house) for a delicious feast. As you get older, maybe you start helping with the setup or even contribute your own dish. Then you become a full-fledged adult, and suddenly you’re hosting Thanksgiving at your house and oh my there’s so much to do.
As always, we’re here to make sure you get through your first Thanksgiving as host. Or maybe it isn’t even your first time! That’s fine, too, because these tips for hosting Thanksgiving will help anyone looking to host the best Turkey Day possible.
Planning Around COVID-19
We can’t talk about Thanksgiving in 2020 without addressing the elephant in the room: COVID-19. The risk factors associated with the disease doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate our beloved holidays, but it does mean they’ll look a little different. Some general guidelines to follow for a safe Thanksgiving this year:
- Try to avoid travel if possible
- Keep dinner plans down to a few people, preferably the people in your household
- Have a virtual dinner with family and friends
- If you’re hosting a moderately sized group, host it outdoors if possible
- Avoid large gatherings like sporting events, parades, etc.
On to the actual tips for hosting Thanksgiving!
Make a Plan
Go into the big day with a vision in mind. How many guests are coming? What time is dinner? Are you doing anything after dinner? What’s on the menu? Having a firm plan along with contingency plans for when craziness inevitably happens will help you manage expectations and stress for you and everyone in the house. A plan also makes it easier to divvy up responsibilities so no one person is doing too much.
This goes for your grocery list, too. Make your shopping list as detailed as possible, down to the very measurement of each ingredient. Nobody wants to venture into the chaos that is a grocery store on Thanksgiving morning because you didn’t get as much cinnamon as you needed.
If someone offers to bring the mac and cheese, let them! Unless you have the world’s best mac and cheese recipe, don’t turn down help. As host, you’ve got enough on your plate as it is. Don’t trick yourself into believing that your aunt bringing the pumpkin pie means you’re not a great host; if anything, it makes you a smart host who won’t lose their mind from stress.
The food is the star of the show on Thanksgiving. Ensure that star shines brightly by making as much as possible before the big day. It may not make every dish taste better, but it will make your hosting experience that much simpler when you’re not juggling multiple dishes, ingredients, and cooking times with a looming deadline.
If you’re not Gordon Ramsay, you should leave the experimentation to another night. On Thanksgiving, you know what the people want: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, broccoli casserole, mac and cheese, the usual. Your guests might appreciate the effort you put into your turkey lasagna, but it doesn’t mean they want to eat it.
But Do Use Shortcuts
Again, if you’re not Gordon Ramsay, don’t feel compelled to make absolutely every dish completely from scratch. Take those shortcuts when they present themselves. Stuffing from the box is perfectly acceptable because it’s easy and delicious. Additionally, lean on local bakeries for your Thanksgiving desserts. They make pies every day, they must know what they’re doing.
Set the Table Early
Not only does this remove one of the most annoying parts of hosting from the equation, but it also gives you a chance to pat yourself on the back when everyone arrives to a beautifully curated dining table. Future You will thank Past You.
Relax & Enjoy the Holiday Spirit
Hosting is stressful, there’s no getting around that. But if you only let stress dominate your day, you’ll be exhausted by noon without ever getting to enjoy the atmosphere you’ve created. Remember to take a step back, take a deep breath, and look around at what you’ve done. It’s a happy Thanksgiving because of all your hard work.
Now go get that second piece of pie. You’ve earned it.