Hosting Thanksgiving can turn the holiday of gratitude into a day of stress and chaos. You want your home to be bright and clean and perfectly decorated with all the tiny pumpkins and fake colorful leaves. You want to be the Martha Stewart of food presentation and flavor. And of course, you don't want your guests to be bored, so you need activities and entertainment! So. Much. Pressure. Here are some tips to make this holiday a little bit easier for you!
MAKE A PLAN
Now is the time to get organized, friends. Make a menu with a grocery list and a schedule ahead of time, and stick to it. Try to be as detailed as possible, so nothing falls through the cracks!
DON'T TURN DOWN HELP
Whether you have a small family or a large gathering, letting other people help is what Thanksgiving is all about! Don't put it all on your shoulders. Let Susie bring the napkins and Jerry make that dessert that you don't have time for. Let people pitch in!
POTLUCK IT UP
Along the same lines as the previous tip, turn your gathering into a potluck! Put each guest in charge of bringing something, whether it be ice, pie, green beans or a bottle of wine. This way, everyone feels like they are contributing and it can take some of the pressure off of the host.
REMEMBER THE MEAT THERMOMETER
Okay, this may be me speaking from experience. I always forget the meat thermometer. Cooking a turkey to perfection requires a meat thermometer! It will make your life easier and your turkey more delicious.
ITS OKAY TO TAKE SHORTCUTS
Don't let Fancy Nancy down the street intimidate you with her intricately decorated homemade pumpkin pie, HGTV worthy fall front porch display, and place settings with napkins folded into turkeys. Buy the pie from a bakery (nobody can tell a difference anyways). Put a pumpkin on the porch and call it good. Buy paper napkins with a cute cartoon turkey on them. Make life a little easier for yourself wherever you can.
STICK TO THE BASICS
This is another one I'm speaking from experience on. Now is NOT the time to be experimenting with new recipes. Just don't. Stick with the tried and true green bean recipe, the classic stuffing, and the delicious-slightly-lumpy mashed potatoes. No need to be going all gourmet to impress your guests.
KEEP EXTRA GRAVY ON HAND
Speaking from experience again here, friends. You will always need more gravy. Grab a few extra jars of premade gravy or packets of gravy mix. Even if you're the type of person who likes to make authentic turkey gravy from the drippings- do yourself a favor and stock up on some back-up. Just in case.
DO THINGS AHEAD OF TIME
Prep whatever food you can before the big day. Set the table the night before. Clean whatever you can the week before. Do your grocery shopping several days before (this is where your menu and schedule will come in handy). Anything you can take care of beforehand so you're not scrambling the hour before your guests arrive, do it.
This may be the most important tip. After all, isn't this the whole point of Thanksgiving? This day is meant to remember why we're thankful for our lives and the people in it. Take some time in the midst of the chaos to let it go and appreciate the day. Relax and enjoy the tryptophan from the meal you've put together. Maybe let somebody else clean up, too.