Wednesday, November 13, 2013

10 Tips For Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching. I've been hosting Thanksgiving dinner for at least 10 years, though it's not for a large crowd. Still, I've learned a few things over the years. Whether you've never hosted before or you've hosted for years, I hope you find a helpful tip {or share one in the comments}! Of course, these could be applied to any holiday meal.

1.  Plan the menu ahead, preferably 2 weeks ahead or more {which is}. Gather up all the recipes you need and start making a shopping list. Check the ingredients in your cupboards - you might remember having an item last year, but perhaps it's expired by now. Why so far ahead? Because if you wait until the last minute to do this and then try to shop, the stores may be out of some of the key ingredients you need {trust me on that}. And the crowds. I get a little claustrophobic when I have to shop and can't even make it through an aisle filled with carts and people.

2.  Look again at the menu you created. If you are anything like me, you just need to cross one dish off of there right now. I have a tendency to overdo it and then end up having to eliminate something at the last minute because I run out of time. Also, if there is too much food then people get full quickly and we end up with way too many leftovers or one dish that's hardly been touched. {For us, that means we skip having a green salad and sometimes skip the rolls.}

3.  Schedule out the menu. What does that mean? You need to figure out how long it takes to make each dish and when it needs to be ready. You also need to know what can be made ahead and what can't. Work backwards from the time that you want to eat and figure out when you need to start each item. I usually start preparing some things a couple of days ahead.

4.  Be flexible about what time you need to eat. If you really need to eat by a certain time, then plan for everything to be ready an hour before that since something always ends up taking longer than you expect. I've learned to stop giving an expected meal time. I give a general idea and tell everybody to just come early to hang out and visit while we finish cooking.

5.  Decide whether you want to serve the meal to everybody sitting at the table or serve it buffet style. Either way is just as delicious! But decide now as this will determine if you need to bring out extra tables or configure your room differently. Even if I serve the meal at the table, I usually set up a small table to set some of the food on after it's been passed around as it won't all fit on the main table.

6.  Set the table(s) ahead of time - maybe even the day before. Not only will it look pretty, but it will save you that step as you are scrambling to get all the food ready at once. Of course, if you have lots of kiddos around with nothing to do, then maybe that can be their job! {But don't stress about table setting - do what works for you and your guests. To make you feel better, check out my post from last year: Bring Out The Fine...Chinette?}

7.  If you have appetizers during the day, keep them light! You don't want everybody feeling full before they ever get to the table to enjoy the meal that's been so lovingly prepared. I used to use the opportunity to try new appetizer recipes, but then realized it was just too much. Now I let my guests bring the appetizers and just ask for veggies, chips & dip/salsa. Simple and light, but something to snack on in case the meal is taking waaaaayyyy longer than anticipated. :)

8.  Let others bring some of the food. Don't try to do the whole meal yourself. Let people help you! I do have a caution if you have out-of-town guests though. If you ask them to bring an important part of the meal and they have to cancel at the last minute, you might have a problem. Or you might ask them to bring something like the mashed potatoes and they might show up with a bag of potatoes and want to make them start to finish in your kitchen {and there is}. :)

9.  Purchase disposable containers so you can send some leftovers home with your guests. Maybe you have too much turkey and stuffing left - that can be lunch for somebody. Maybe somebody was too full for dessert or has to leave early - send a selection of dessert items home with them for later. My guests consist mainly of single guys, so I often double up on the food and send enough leftovers home with each one to make one or two meals.

10.  Take notes! You'll want to remember everything for next year or your next hosted meal {and if you're like me you'll forget even though you are certain that you will remember}. Write down your menu, table setting, timing, what worked or what didn't, what didn't get eaten, etc. This will help you do it even better the next time around!

Do you host Thanksgiving dinner? Do you go somewhere else on Thanksgiving Day? What tips do you have? Share in the comments!

This post linked to:
 ~ WFMW at We Are THAT Family

I hope to share some of my favorite Thanksgiving menu items and desserts with you over the next couple of days, so be sure to stop by!

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Have a blessed day friends! 

1 comment:

  1. Great tips my friend. I've hosted for the last 17 years. I got to the point now that it "usually" goes pretty smooth. I have learned to relax and realize that I don't have to make everybody's favorite pie. *smile*

    Big I'm wearing my tennis shoes this year so my dogs don't bark by the end of the day size hugs to you!!


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