If you’ve decided to open your home to friends and family this holiday season, your Denver special events planner Blue Linden has gathered some helpful tips for hosting Thanksgiving that may be of use to you. We want your event to be a wonderful, festive occasion. Shy of hiring an event planner like us to take some of the burden off your hands, these pointers can be beneficial in making your experience with hosting Thanksgiving one you will want to repeat for years to come!
Put together a plan and a timeline
To start your event off right, put together your menu. Once you’ve got that, write yourself a to-do list, making sure to include removing your turkey from the freezer enough days in advance. Then, take your to-do items and create a schedule to get a timeline put in place, that way you don’t feel rushed or forget something important. When does the turkey need to be fully cooked to make room for your oven-baked sides? Can you put two in at a time? Should you make it on the stovetop instead? Could you switch an oven-side to a crockpot maybe? Oh, and don’t forget to schedule in time to take a shower and have a moment of rest before the ‘madness’ begins!
The easiest things to make ahead are definitely the desserts (and if you need any suggestions on what to serve in the sweets department, check out our post on our favorite fall desserts). But you can certainly prepare casseroles up until the step where you’d bake, and instead freeze for a few days or refrigerate over night. Wash, portion, and chop veggies. Dry and bake bread for the stuffing. The possibilities to make your life easier in the prep department are endless!
Stick with what you know
Unless you’re willing to do a test-run beforehand, don’t try brand new recipes if you’re hosting Thanksgiving. While it can be fun to mix it up, with all you have on your plate, make your life a little easier by serving the tried and true of what you really love during the holidays.
Don’t hesitate to buy some things pre-made
If you don’t have the time to make pie crust from scratch, go refrigerated. If you don’t have time for making pie at all, buy a whole one from a bakery. Can’t fit the homemade sweet potato casserole into the schedule, hit the freezer section. Really want delicious gravy but hate wasting the time standing over it whisking it to perfection, then hit a specialty store and buy it! Most of the time, your guests won’t even be able to tell a difference!
Get a jumpstart on setup
Obviously the deep clean of the house can be done a few days ahead (and then specific rooms roped off like that scene in Drop Dead Fred after the dining room carpet was freshly shampooed). Decide which serving dishes will be used for which foods, as well as what dining ware and utensils will be put out, and then set the table the night before.
Skip the appetizers
We’d say, on average, a typical Thanksgiving meal has around 8 dishes, not including desserts. That’s a lot of food, right? So why should you stress over something else by adding appetizers into the mix, that will probably only be grazed over in anticipation of the main event anyway? Choose to skip them entirely, or delegate that to someone else who’s willing to arrive early enough for all to enjoy!
Don’t turn down a helping hand
A helping hand can come in the form of choosing to go potluck style with the sides or desserts (or both) and make your main focus be the protein and providing a warm atmosphere. Or help can be simply saying, “YES!” when someone asks if they can wash the dishes or stir the gravy.
Ply them with booze
Have the wine already open and ready to pour or have a pitcher of something tasty prepared to immediately hand out when a guest arrives, then quickly navigate them out of the kitchen to interact with others. It gets them out from underfoot, and if everyone is enjoying libations and conversation, they won’t mind if dinner runs a bit behind.
Remember that by hosting Thanksgiving your end goal shouldn’t be to impress your guests with your ability to be a wonder-host! Instead, make sure to enjoy the company of those around you, as well as all the delicious food you’ve so painstakingly prepared. If it’s not fun, why do it?! So reduce the stress, sip a cocktail in between stove-top preparations, and be thankful for the people you’re spending your holiday with.