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6 tips for hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving

6 tips for hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving

Hosting your friends and family for Thanksgiving probably sounded like a great idea months ago, but as the date creeps closer you may be feeling stressed.

The holidays should be something you look forward to, not something you dread. Here are some tips to help you relieve the stress of hosting and get excited about spending time with those you love this holiday season:

Plan the food

Plan what to make, how much to make, and how long it will take to cook it all. This step may sound obvious, but if you haven’t done proper planning, the day can quickly become a disaster. 

Take the time to understand what you’re cooking and what each recipe entails. Leave plenty of time to thaw the turkey and make sure you know how long it takes each recipe to be made—some have multiple steps that take days.

Anything that can be made in advance should be made in advance. It doesn’t hurt to do a practice round on recipes you haven’t tried before, but don’t overdo it.

Thanksgiving meals usually have traditional elements such as turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, which are always crowd-pleasers. It can also be fun to try unique recipes that become new traditional dishes that your family will love. And remember, a complicated recipe doesn’t guarantee it will be good, and an easy recipe doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be the least favorite dish.

Ask for help

The number one key to relieving holiday stress? Ask for help.

Chances are that your guests have asked if they can help—so let them! Delegate a few foods that you dread making or ones that will be difficult to tackle while you’re making everything else. Desserts and side dishes are great items to hand off to guests.

Find a friend or two who are willing to help in the kitchen, set the table, or fill glasses before dinner is served.

Don’t take decorating too seriously

Your home doesn’t have to look like a holiday catalog for the day to be amazing, but do take time to clean and declutter your home. If you need inspiration for creating a festive space, read these holiday decorating tips.

Since the holiday is centered around food, make sure you have ample seating (at the table and in conversation areas) and plenty of dishes and silverware for all of your guests.

Provide entertainment

Sometimes, all you need is good company, food, and beverages to have a great Thanksgiving. However, setting out cards or games to entertain your guests during downtime (or while you’re busy in the kitchen) is always a good idea. Don’t forget to put on some soft, holiday-appropriate music in the background.

Make plans for clean up

Start your day with a clean sink and an empty dishwasher so dishes don’t pile up throughout the day. Cleaning as you cook will also help you avoid a sink overflowing with dishes after dinner.

It’s common to have leftovers after such a large meal, and they often go to waste after the holiday weekend ends. Buy disposable food storage containers or ask your guests to bring their own to package and take any leftovers you won’t eat.  

Enjoy the process!

The holidays are meant to be joyful—so do what you can to make it that way. The Thanksgiving holiday is centered around food and fellowship, so ask for help and take time to enjoy your company.

P.S. If you’re truly feeling hopeless, pull out the paper plates and order pizza! There’s no rule that says Thanksgiving has to be fancy.