You know you’re really a grownup when Thanksgiving rolls around and the family looks to you to host the meal. If it’s your first time to make the Turkey Day meal for everyone, here is some advice to help you get through the big day.
10 Tips for Hosting Your First Thanksgiving
1. Ask guests ahead of time if they have any dietary needs or restrictions. You don’t want to learn that you have vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or nut allergic guests as you’re just sitting down at the table. Find out ahead of time and be ready with some tasty food alternatives so everyone can enjoy the meal.
2. Make guests feel welcome. Greet them at the door, have the music playing in the background, candles lit and appetizers readily available. Offer them a drink and introduce them to other guests and let the fun begin.
3. Prep the bathroom. In addition to a good cleaning, make sure there are extra rolls of toilet paper handy. Continue to check the bathroom throughout the course of the day or evening to make sure it stays guest-friendly.
4. Know how to set a table. Bread plate on left and drinks on the right. Get ideas online if you’re not sure how to set a pretty place setting. Add a simple centerpiece, whether it’s candles or an attractive display of fruit or fresh flowers, you don’t have to go overboard. A welcoming table doesn’t have to have expensive china, crystal and silver. Work with what you have and stay within your budget. That said, if you have them, use them: it’s the perfect time to use your grandmother’s china and your great aunt’s table linens.
5. Make sure you have the right tools for the job. Be sure you have plenty of serving utensils on hand for the different dishes, including the proper knives to carve and serve the turkey. Also, double-check to make sure you have the number of chairs you need for guests before the big day.
6. Stock up on non-alcoholic liquids. In a rush to make sure she had the perfectly paired wines for the various components of the meal, one friend forgot to provide any non-alcoholic drinks for guests. Keep a stash of cold drinks like soda, fruit juices or tea on hand. A glass of ice water at each place setting is also a thoughtful touch.
7. Bring on the appetizers. Appetizers are important for a couple of reasons: not only are they fun and delicious, but they will help soak up the beer and wine that guests will invariably start drinking when they arrive. They’ll also tide people over if dinner takes longer than you planned.
8. Have a backup plan in case it’s your first turkey. If it’s your first time to cook the bird, have a Plan B in place for your own peace of mind. Consider keeping a fully cooked turkey breast in the fridge that you can slice and heat quickly if necessary or freeze later.
9. Plan ahead. Try to get as much done ahead of time as you can to avoid panic and to give you time to visit with family and friends. It also gives you time to fix any problems that may arise if a recipe doesn’t work out as you have planned. Look for do-ahead recipes to keep yourself as calm and cool as possible on the big day.
10. Don’t stress out. Glossy magazine spreads and TV cooking shows make it look deceptively easy to feed a multi-course gourmet feast to group of people in a beautiful, stylish home. Don’t get so caught up in the hoopla that you plan an elaborate meal with 15 different side dishes and several new recipes you’ve never tried. Keep it simple and accept help when it’s offered (and ask for it when it’s needed!). Remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about creating a warm, loving environment for enjoying family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving!