Let’s face it, if you are the nominated host, the holidays can be hectic no matter how well you plan. This is especially true if you are hosting relatives from out of town for Thanksgiving. Before you even throw out your Halloween pumpkins, you hear Christmas music and jingling bells at every retailer. Thanksgiving gets lost in the hustle and bustle of planning, shopping, decorating and wrapping. We want to help you make this year's Thanksgiving go as smoothly as possible, so here are some great tips for nervous Thanksgiving dinner hosts everywhere.
Plan the perfect menu
Thanksgiving dinner usually means creating a menu with many traditional dishes such as the turkey, cranberries and, of course, pumpkin pie. But when you’re hosting friends and family from out of town, it’s much less work for you if you consider their preferences (and possible food allergies) while planning your menu. Let’s say you are having around 20 guests, but you know only five actually like cranberry sauce. Meanwhile, your sister’s whole family is gluten-free. Save yourself the time and money by only buying and preparing what you need. If you are hosting quite a few children, make sure you have kid-friendly foods such as crescent dogs or mac ‘n’ cheese. These are easy to make and the kids will prefer them to turkey and stuffing.
Last minute shopping for any holiday dinner always, always leads to disappointment. Hit the grocery stores as early as you can without worrying about food spoilage. Frozen or canned items can be bought weeks in advance. This will also allow you to check items off your list and see what may have been forgotten before the stores are closed for the holiday. Besides, you will likely have guests arriving the day of or a day before the big feast. You don’t want to be out shopping while your house guests are trying to get settled in.
Make your guests feel welcome
Speaking of your guests settling in, you can welcome them with personal touches in their rooms. People might not say it, but most really appreciate things such as a handmade card, toiletry bag with items they may have forgotten (toothbrushes, soap, etc.) and extra bedding and pillows. For those guests who are not staying the night, be sure to make suggestions early on for a great place to stay in town for the holiday weekend. The Hotel Saint Cecilia in Austin, Texas is a great example of a worthwhile Thanksgiving accommodation. It is kid- friendly, within walking distance of entertainment and nightlife, and it has all the amenities any family would be looking for on a holiday vacation.
Set the seating arrangement
This is a task that should definitely be done before Thanksgiving Day. That way you will know ahead of time if you have enough chairs, or if you need to consider a separate table for the kids. You can also gain "hostess points" by personalizing place cards with every guests’ name. And one more thing: be sure to have a couple of extra settings for unexpected guests (such as your nephew’s new girlfriend).
Assign tasks for the day-of
Most likely, every guest that you are hosting will ask if there's anything they can do to help. Wouldn’t it be nice if you actually had an answer for them? There are many simple tasks that they could assist with. If they do these things, you could free up your time to focus on the finishing touches. Some examples include slicing the buns, refilling the ice bucket and lighting the candles. The guests can feel useful, and you don't have to worry about those little details that can only be done at the last minute.
Do you have a few of your own holiday hosting tips? We’d love to read about them in the comments section below.