Over the years, Thanksgiving dinner has earned a reputation for being a stressful, hectic meal that’ll keep you up in a complete state of panic the night before. We disagree. With a little pre-planning, some common sense and these 10 tips, there’s no reason you can’t serve a lovely, delicious dinner and still enjoy yourself and your guests while you’re at it.
#1 Plan Ahead
Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started, so create your menu now. Why? When the menu is done, you also have your shopping list nearly done. Everything after that is just gravy.
#2 Know Your Guests
Any favorite dishes, special requests or dietary restrictions? Make them a part of your menu plan now so you won’t be caught off-guard, and your guests will feel extra welcome.
#3 Checklist? Check.
Create a detailed to-do list to help you stay on top of every task, every step of the way. Post it somewhere where you’ll see it frequently. Bonus: Checking things off feels good!
#4 Make a Shopping List
Get it all down on paper and start shopping for whatever you can now. Remember that you’ll need to submit any special orders (like for the turkey) earlier than normal.
#5 Get the Perfect Turkey
Make it even easier on yourself and order a delicious free-range turkey from us. The bird will arrive on your doorstep, and you’ll have one less trip to the store.
#6 Make a Calendar
What can you do early and when do you need to have certain tasks completed? Block out time for as much advance prep as possible. We’ve even put together a handy timeline to keep you on track.
#7 Divide and Conquer
Make what you can a day or two ahead to free up time—and oven space—on the big day. Soups, breads, pies and side dishes are all excellent candidates for advance preparation.
#8 Three Words: Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.
There’s no shame in asking people to bring a dish or two—a little help can go a long way to make life easier. Just remember to be specific. Asking Auntie Lena to bring her famous pumpkin pie will help things run more smoothly than just asking her to bring dessert will.
#9 Set the Table
A beautiful table is an easy way to wow your guests. Fresh flowers, candles and even crackers can kick a table up a few notches. But don’t forget the functional things like place cards and menus—especially if you’re hosting a large dinner or a group that doesn’t each other well. These extra way-finding accessories can help people feel comfortable quickly.
#10 Have Fun!
Planning ahead can take some of the stress out of a busy day so you can enjoy a great meal with the people you love. A glass of wine helps, too.
How do you stay sane during Thanksgiving week? If you have a good tip or two, please share!