It’s the most wonderful EATING day of the year!
(Sung to the tune of “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”)
Holidays are extremely important in my family. Like EXTREMELY important. And rightly so. Holidays let us slow down from our everyday and recharge with time together over good food and drinks! Even as we slow down, it can be very, very, very, easy to let yourself get stressed out and overwhelmed. Don’t do it! Instead, use these tips for hosting a stress free Thanksgiving!
My mother has always been the host for our holiday gatherings. She had the big kitchen with two ovens, which makes any big meal easier. This is why I made it a priority when we remodeled our kitchen to have two ovens. When my parents downsized they lost the second oven. So it only made sense that I would take over Thanksgiving since that is the holiday we cook the most items for and two ovens would make it easier for everyone! Plus, I have a large toaster convection oven that can easily cook a smaller side dish! I have ovens on ovens you guys!
Being an important holiday, I knew that I could go crazy planning and stressing if I let myself. But The Domestic Realist part of me knew I needed to reel it in before I even started down that tiresome path. I went with a stress free Thanksgiving by simplifying it for everyone involved but especially for myself and my family.
If you already feel like you are headed down that road, try these tips and see if they can help you host a STRESS FREE Thanksgiving this year!
FREE Planning Printables!
In addition to these tips, I have created Thanksgiving printables to help you plan as well!
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Tips for Hosting a STRESS FREE Thanksgiving:
Clean out your fridge
This is a step many of us forget to do before we host any get-together. Then we scramble to find space for the dishes before and after the meal.
This can be done a week or two beforehand and will give you a sense of accomplishment from the start!
If making room in the fridge is a challenge you may want to invest in or borrow a cooler that can keep food cold for multiple days. I don’t agree with them but something “Yeti” like would be ideal but the cost of those is ridiculous. I will spare you my feelings on those. This is a cheaper alternative.
Divide and conquer as much as possible
You don’t need to be in the kitchen for three days beforehand. That is the opposite of a stress free Thanksgiving and will only make you burned out before any guests even arrive.
When people ask what they can bring give them two options. Most times, at least with my awesome family, they will bring one if not two! Less stress and worrying for everyone. They don’t have the burden of hosting preparations and can easily make something to bring.
Tip: People love making their favorite dish. I know I personally put more love into a recipe if it is my favorite. You can always ask your guest what’s their favorite side dish, especially on such a food specific holiday. This ensures they will get their favorite dish and you have one less thing to make!
Ask a nonchef to bring the beverages
This does three things: Allows them to contribute, avoids the possibility of them coming empty handed (and you being pissed off at them coming empty handed), and everyone gets to eat, drink, and be merry! Plus, it helps you cut down on some of the cost on an item that can easily get expensive.
Bonus: If you prefer to use glass drinkware instead of the always classy red solo cup with your name in black sharpie, try these Wine Glass Markers. My mom put these in my stocking last year and I love them! Your guests can write their names on any glassware and it washes off easily with soap.
Bonus – Bonus: This prevents mystery cups with wasted wine that get dumped because the owner is unknown. Wasted wine is a crime against humanity. And this helps cut down on the number of glasses to wash!
I love fancy plated dinner parties as much as the next one.
BUT the reality is people want to easily make their plate with the portions they want!
AND without having to call attention to themselves when they go for the third helping of stuffing. They can easily get that third helping without asking for it to be passed down from the end of the table. This is especially helpful when you have a larger crowd.
Forget putting items in a second serving dish
Call me new school but I have never understood putting food into another container for appearances. That equals double dishes which sucks!
If you do buffet style and leave the food in another place it doesn’t really matter what the vessel it came in looks like. It will all end up covered in gravy or cranberry sauce on your guests plate anyways! Fewer dishes = less stress = more time to spend with your guests!
Bonus: Use disposable foil pans for as many items as possible and encourage your guests to do so as well. You can skip being green one day a year! Cleaning will be a breeze with fewer dishes and there is no worry of someone forgetting their heirloom bakeware.
Make a list of ingredients for each dish you plan to make ahead of time
Doing this helps you to determine which items you need to buy and also keep an eye on the sales the week or two before the holiday. Not having to go to the store last minute with the other crazies will make you a happier hostess! And save you money!
Bonus: I have a planning sheet for this in my Thanksgiving Printables!
But for items you forgot, and don’t realize until last minute, you can always use Amazon Prime Now. Read about the Best Uses for Amazon Prime Now.
Order what you can
Even if that means the whole meal. No shame in this Stress Free Thanksgiving hosting game!
When I hosted my first Thanksgiving last year, I knew the one item I didn’t want to mess with was the turkey. I am not a fan of touching raw meat. And I didn’t want to stress about trying to learn how to make one on a holiday that revolves around it. That would have been too much pressure for me!
To help, I ordered the Turkey and had a guest bring a Honey Baked Ham. Not only did I save time and effort but the Turkey’s cost was comparable to buying one and cooking it myself. Win-Win!
Bonus: Printable for Ordered Items included in planning guide!
Provide to go containers
If each guest is bringing different dishes they don’t necessarily want to only eat sweet potato leftovers. I had these small foil containers out so everyone could make a second plate to take home. We did this right after the meal so there were ready to go when they left. The containers were leftover from a catered event but you can easily find them at most grocery stores. Reynolds even came out with some you can use to reheat the leftovers in!
Not only does this keep me from having to track down my Tupperware later but it helps promote getting all the leftovers out of my fridge! Less holiday weight gain for me!
Homemade isn’t always better
Of course fresh usually tastes better but use what you can to make your life easier.
Last year, I attempted to make homemade cranberry sauce. I succeeded in making it but no one really liked it compared to the typical canned version. Lesson learned.
Sometimes store bought is better and preferred. No need to fancy everything up! Save the time and use it elsewhere.
Know your limits
This is not the time to try a new complicated recipe. Do what you can do easily and quickly. You may have found a wonderful recipe on Pinterest but unless you have time to try it before Thanksgiving it will be smarter to stick to what you do well.
No one is handing out Thanksgiving host of the year awards. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Prep what you can ahead of time
The more you can do before the actual day the less stressed you will be the day of. It may be as simple as chopping ingredients ahead of time or making entire recipes to freeze ahead of time. Set the table the day before as well. This will help you check that you have enough of the items you need and give you time to get more if needed.
Think proofreading, always good to review with a fresh pair of eyes.
Bonus: Using the Prep Timeline planning sheet in the Thanksgiving printables will help with this step!
Using these tips helped me to not only have a stress free Thanksgiving but also *gasp* enjoy time with my guests! Which I know is unheard of when hosting.
Everyone can leave full, happy, and relaxed! Of course the next morning, the Christmas madness begins! So your blood pressure will shoot right back up but it won’t be full of gravy this time! Ha!
What is your favorite dish for Thanksgiving?
Can you tell all I care about is the food!
And if you want to check out some other great MOM Life posts visit the Simple Every’s Link Party on Mondays!