Hosting Thanksgiving? A Little Advice

(Image credit: Chris Perez)

Yesterday Cambria shared that she’s hosting her first Thanksgiving ever this year. Readers offered a ton of suggestions for her, and I’m going to add to that with a few tips and tricks of my own. Trust me — do these few things and you won’t need that pizza delivery number in your back pocket! You can handle this.

1. Thaw the Turkey. Don’t laugh. This has got to be the number one, biggest mistake people make! Bypass this step by buying an oh-so-delicious fresh turkey, or start planning how and where that turkey is going to defrost. Here’s a quick guide to buying the right size bird, and the simplest, easiest method to cook it.

2. Map out your day(s) in the kitchen. Plan ahead. What can you make ahead of time? (Hint: it’s more than you think!) Check out Faith’s small and swanky make ahead menu for ideas. Before the big day, plan out what has to be in the oven and when. This is a great time to nerd out and make a spreadsheet. If that’s not your thing, at least brainstorm when you’re going to prepare each item. Don’t forget: You are one human, with two hands.

3. Set out all your dishes and tableware ahead of time. Thursday afternoon at 3pm isn’t exactly the ideal time to realize you’re short a few place settings, or that there aren’t really enough large bowls to accommodate mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and salad and stuffing. Make a list (like, now) of everything you need to pick up at the store or borrow for the big day. Don’t forget about table linens, candles, centerpieces, serving utensils, and glasses for both wine or cocktails and water. Need extra plates and glasses? Check out these sources.

4. Delegate. When people ask what they can do to help, don’t be afraid to actually give them something to do! Refilling guests wine glasses or refreshing a tray of appetizers is a big help, especially if you’re whisking away at that gravy you should have made in advance in the first place. It’s especially helpful to dole out small tasks if you’ve got a kitchen free and open to the wanders, snackers, and samplers of your guest list.

5. Be Thankful. Isn’t that what this holiday is all about? Look around and give thanks for your friends, family, and loved ones…especially since they’re here to partake in your first ever Thanksgiving meal. And if all else fails, be thankful for the pizza delivery guy.