Family and food is what Thanksgiving is all about, but when you’re hosting it can be a stressful ordeal. Here are some ways to help your Thanksgiving Day run as smoothly as possible.
1. Make a plan.
• Take a moment to write down what you need to get done, and when you need it completed.
• Several weeks before the big day, create your menu (this food planner can help you figure out how much you need) and divvy up dishes between family members. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
• Hit the grocery store ASAP to purchase ingredients that will stay fresh the longest—herbs and spices, anything frozen (like the turkey), produce with a long shelf life, etc. When the big day gets closer, finish up your shopping list.
• Do a head count and make sure you have enough table space and seating for everyone.
• Make pies (and other dishes) a day ahead. Unless you have a double oven, your turkey will likely monopolize your oven most of the morning and afternoon. Make sure you have a plan for anything that must be oven-baked.
2. Consider buying ready-made food.
If you can’t recruit enough people to help with food, consider buying ready-made side dishes (or whole Thanksgiving dinners) from places like H-E-B or Whole Foods. Usually family members are willing to pitch in some cash to help with this.
3. Keep the kids entertained.
The last thing you want to hear while you’re busy cooking a huge meal is “I’m bored” or “I’m hungry.” Have some activities planned for your kids, like coloring pages or movies, and make sure they have some healthy snacks to munch on while they wait. You might even want to make Thanksgiving lunches the day before, so they’re ready (and easy) to serve when you need them.
4. Give everyone a task.
Whether it’s setting the table, keeping an eye on kids or pets, doing dishes, or helping with the food, ask your friends and family to participate in making the day go smoothly.
5. Keep the peace.
Whether it’s politics or personal dramas, nobody wants an argument during Thanksgiving dinner. If you already know there’s going to be tension, write down a list of discussion topics, so you can easily redirect the conversation if things go sour. If you feel comfortable, speak with your guests before Thanksgiving, and ask them to avoid controversial topics that day.
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