5 Useful Thanksgiving Tips for Rookie Turkey-day Hosts
The Thanksgiving holiday has snuck up on us once again and maybe it’s your first time hosting the big meal. Now that we’re married and families are here and there, we tend to host to bring everyone all together. This can be an overwhelming task however, I remember the first year I did it getting really sick the next day because I was so stressed out over making the perfect meal. Since then I have learned a few things and have some tips for the newbie that I hope you’ll find useful.
- Guest list– First, it is important to nail down your guest list early, ideally no less than one week in advance. Things like food allergies and preferences need to be determined. If you invited your cousin who is gluten, egg, dairy and meat-free, then you’ll have to make some modifications. You may also want to be mindful of seating arrangements and table space.
- Turkey – Once the guest list is determined, you can then size up the turkey. A rough guide is 1.5 pounds per person. Another important consideration is dealing with a frozen turkey. You will need about 24hrs for each 5 lbs of bird in the refrigerator. You also really do not need to stress about a recipe, just rub some butter under the skin and then slather the top with more butter and salt and pepper. You can get a little more creative by adding some chopped herbs like thyme or parsley and chopped garlic to the the butter. Stuff with cavity with a quartered onion, garlic, lemon and more herbs. At 325 degrees, it will take about 15 minutes per pound, unstuffed.
- Sides – All the usual favorites here are always a good option; mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, green beans. I find it fun to try new recipes though, and here are a few of our favorites- sweet corn pudding, broccoli casserole, and Brussel sprout salad. Also, be sure to delegate. Most people want to bring a dish, whether it be an appetizer, side or a dessert, so don’t be afraid to ask and take people up on their offers.
- Centerpiece – This can be something as simple as a bouquet of fresh flowers, a large vase with a tall candle and seasonal potporie around the bottom, or something like these canning jars with candles and corn kernels. I prepped these in about 10 minutes, and used common twine around the tops for a bow. These are great because they are low lying so as not to interfere with guests and will provide a nice glow at the table.
- Occupy time – Maybe you have kids coming over or maybe you don’t; either way, you’ll want to provide some activities to keep people occupied and active for the long day of eating ahead. If you live in a nice climate and can play yard games, go for a walk or plan a scavenger hunt. If you live in the tundra, like us, indoor activities are necessary. Not everybody likes watching football all day, so board games and cards are good to have on hand- you don’t want the conversation going to controversial topics especially after people have had a few drinks. We’ll plan on playing trivia and charades as well as having football or thanksgiving themed Yule logs on Netflix in the background.
These are the five things that I found to be most important when hosting Thanksgiving dinner. The biggest takeaway is not to stress over it, everything does not have to be done at the exact same time. Let others help by bringing items, provide plenty of refreshments as well as activities and fun will be had by all!