Thanksgiving can mean quite a bit of stress if you’re the one hosting dinner. Between planning the menu, setting up logistics and dealing with guests, there is a lot to take care of, and things can go awry at any moment. But if you plan everything out carefully and make sure to keep these 15 common mistakes in mind, dinner is sure to be a success.
Thanksgiving is just one day of the year, but it takes weeks to plan it right. You should start planning Thanksgiving as soon as possible. Invite local guests at least one month in advance and begin your holiday prep at least two weeks in advance.
You don’t want to leave anyone out during the holiday season, but it’s important to be realistic about your time, resources and the size of your home. If you only have room to seat eight guests, keep your guest list to eight people.
It’s ultimately the guest’s responsibility to divulge dietary restrictions or allergies but it’s still good hosting to ask and accommodate. Thanksgiving dinner is full of gluten, dairy and other common allergens. If your guests do have some special needs, be sure to prepare foods they can enjoy — you’d be amazed at which Thanksgiving dishes are gluten free, for instance.
If there’s one day you don’t want to send guests home hungry, it’s Thanksgiving. It’s important to ensure you know how many sides you need and which size turkey you should buy — making sure there’s enough for leftovers as well. Everyone knows the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftover sandwiches.
You don’t want to drink too much alcohol on Thanksgiving, but no Turkey Day meal is complete without a little wine and some holiday spirits. One bottle of wine usually holds five standard drinks, which should help you calculate a drink or two per person.
It’s easy to become a control freak when you’re hosting Thanksgiving. But you’re already going to be roasting a turkey, making sure the table is set and doing any needed last-minute preparations. The best way for you to make sure everything goes smoothly is to ask for help. You can have someone help you in the kitchen, ask others to set up or even make your dinner a potluck and have guests bring along those essential side dishes.
You can’t roast a frozen turkey, so make sure you take your bird out of the freezer and put it in your fridge ahead of time. The best defrosting method is to give it one day of thawing time for every four pounds of turkey. Keep it in its plastic wrap and place it breast side up on a baking tray to catch any leaked juices.
While you may have found some amazing new Thanksgiving recipes online that you’re dying to try, it’s best that you don’t experiment on Thanksgiving Day. Whether you’re trying out a new spin on potatoes or a different holiday pie, do a test run in the weeks beforehand to make sure everything comes out perfectly the day of.
You’ll run yourself ragged trying to prepare everything right before mealtime. You’d be surprised just how many Thanksgiving dishes you can make in advance, and you should definitely prep as many as you can.
With pots and pans everywhere and inevitable food spills or splashes, it’s a good idea to clean up as you go. While the turkey is in the oven and your potatoes are cooking, throw any dirty pans you have in the dishwasher and scrub your cooking utensils in the sink. If you clean up as you cook, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headache at the end of the day.
It may seem like eating is the only activity you need on Thanksgiving, but if that’s all you have planned, there’s a good chance your guests will get bored. Turn the TV on for a football game or parade, have some activities on hand for the kids and invite your guests to join in some fun dinner party games. This can keep everyone busy while they’re waiting for food to be put out or keep things fun after everyone’s well stuffed.
A perfectly roasted turkey with crispy, golden skin is a stunning sight and definitely something your guests will want to take a snapshot of on the table. However, your guests shouldn’t see you actually carving the turkey — it’s not a pretty process. You’ll be snapping bones out of sockets, pulling meat off and really getting into the nooks and crannies with your knife, so it’s best to show off the bird and then take it back to your kitchen for carving.
The perfect Thanksgiving host knows one thing: this is a day that’s all about enjoying delicious food and the company of your loved ones. It’s important, therefore, to take some time away from the hustle and bustle of the kitchen and other Thanksgiving prep to relax and enjoy the occasion. Thanksgiving can be stressful, so take a breath when you need it and try to focus on what you’re thankful for — especially when dealing with the inevitable mistakes of your guests.
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