7 Tips for Planning and Hosting a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving can be full of fun and excitement for everyone involved, but it can also be a source of great stress and anxiety, especially for first-time hosts. From planning the meal, to prepping and preparing the food, with so many steps in between, the long list of to-do’s can leave you feeling grateful that Thanksgiving only comes once a year! Never fear because we have a tangible treat in store for you. We have compiled a list of ways to decrease Thanksgiving stress and anxiety, and even save a few bucks in the process. If you’re the lucky host this year, keep reading for tips for planning a stress-free Thanksgiving!
1. Plan Ahead
Taking time to sit down and plan ahead is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself. It will reduce stress, anxiety and even save you some dough. Many grocers place common holiday items like turkeys and canned cranberry on sale weeks or even months prior. Create a menu and watch for sales and coupons. You can even use this time to experiment with new recipes. Remember, most people wait all year in anticipation of those culinary classics like dressing, turkey and sweet potato pie. Aim to please by focusing on timeless dishes, but also throw in something unexpected to spark fun conversation.
2. Be Organized
Organization is an essential key to success when hosting Thanksgiving, and you can utilize technology to make it easy. Take advantage of special holiday planning apps to keep your to-do list in order and keep a notetaking app handy for quick reminders. Use the timer function on your phone and smart speakers to make sure you know when things are coming in and out of the oven.
Create a master list of all your menu items, their ingredients, any oven temperatures and their estimated prep and cook times. This will help you build a timeline for when you plan to cook what. This is important both for day-of and prep day planning. Make sure you leave time in the days before Thanksgiving to complete time-consuming tasks, such as chopping ingredients, pre-making casseroles for refrigeration until they are ready to bake, or even making and freezing desserts ahead of time. This level of organization also allows you to communicate with family and friends who are willing to lend a hand, or may need to use the oven when they arrive. You can prep together by planning a specific day to complete the tasks or even pull out the wine and make it a group activity!
3. Ask for Help
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to revolve around the turkey. Make it your goal to intentionally celebrate the whole month of November with an extra grain of gratitude. What better time than this to spend time with the people you love? Plan a prep night for chopping ingredients or getting extra help with those special family recipes. Make it a family affair by inviting the whole family.
4. Share the Fun!
Delegate, delegate, delegate! Be shameless about mastering your leadership and managerial skills during this time. Place those who are not comfortable cooking in charge of items that can be store bought, such as raw veggies, plates, cups, napkins, cutlery, ice, and drinks. Place those in the late arrivals category in charge of dessert.
5. Prep Work
When we think about preparation, we typically think in terms of food. Think outside the box and you can set a well planned strategy in motion.
- Set the table the night before. (Tip: Animal lovers, place a table cloth on top so your little or big critter can’t share their hair or their germs)
- Cook the turkey a day ahead. (Tip: Ever wonder why Thanksgiving leftovers taste so much better? All the flavor and seasonings have soaked in overnight. Trust us, it’ll be great!)
- Place wine bottles in the fridge the night before. (Tip: Having drinks on hand and ready for guests upon arrival can help occupy them and give you a little extra time to prepare.)
6. Store Buy Parts of Your Meal
Hand-selecting beautifully delicious store-bought desserts or appetizers can be just as satisfying as whipping them up yourself! Do not stress over baking homemade pies, appetizers, rolls, or any other time-consuming dish. Instead, shop local and support small businesses, while also adding more time to your schedule. Local bakeries, grocers and restaurants, such as Boston Market, specialize in Thanksgiving must-haves. Save time and prepare for day-of emergencies by grabbing some delicious sweet potato casserole, topped with pecans and marshmallows, or their famous creamed spinach from the Boston Market drive thru!
7. Schedule some “Me Time!”
Although your planning, hard work, and dedication is admirable, believe it or not, your guests did not (only) come for the food. Thanksgiving is about spending time with those you love and expressing gratitude for all things. In order to share in this special time with your guests and be part of the conversation, schedule time for showering, getting ready and a mental reset before guests arrive. Remember, your guests probably won’t recall the lemon zest that so elegantly graced the top of your pound cake, but they will remember how you made them feel. Rather than talking about how exhausted you are, or preemptively warding off any embarrassing food reviews, bring your good vibes to the party, take an insane amount of pictures, laugh a lot, and be part of a beautiful story that will be told for generations to come.