Being a host on Thanksgiving can be stressful. But not to worry! I have compiled my 9 best tips to becoming stress-free this holiday.
A Quick disclaimer before I get started:
I changed hosting from Bluehost to SiteGround this week. Of course, the day that my renewal is up is the day before a post goes out, so I’m trying to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible for you guys! If you see any glitches or things out of place that you think I should know about, please send me a note in via the “Contact me” tab in the bar above. Thank you so much for understanding!
Get ready to meet my type-A side.
When it comes to being type-A or type-B personality, I land somewhere in the middle of the spectrum closer to A. Sometimes I need all the details prepped, but I’m chill with being spontaneous sometimes. I don’t have every detail planned out to a “T”, and I’m okay with that. I’m still a work in progress, I know.
But Thanksgiving gets the full type-A treatment.
By the beginning of September, I’m thinking of ways to prepare for this holiday. And yes, I get it, Thanksgiving is about being thankful and grateful for what we have.
But let’s not kid ourselves. Thanksgiving is about the copious amount of food too.
So with some simple math, we can deduce one crazy food blogger + an amazing food holiday = a whole lotta food!
Last year, I had 13 dishes. And that wasn’t even including the biscuits, which I didn’t get to make! Chances are, I could have used some of these tips last year. But now that I’ve gotten a chance to sit down and think about it, I’ve got 9 tips to be the best Thanksgiving host!
What you can do to prep yourself NOW:
1: Make something that can be thawed/cooked for Thanksgiving.
You can make several dishes or you can make just one. It all depends on what you’re making for Thanksgiving and how much freezer space you have.
My first idea of food to make now is cranberry sauce. If you make your own cranberry sauce, I highly suggest my cranberry apple chutney recipe. Not only is it from my blog (so you know I know its good!) it’s a recipe my mom and I have been making every Thanksgiving for years. Best of all, it freezes very well! I actually already made mine and made a video to put on Instagram.
A little late to #tbt ? Yes, I know, but it goes with today’s post! I tried something different! This is my old but tried-and-true recipe for apple cranberry chutney I had on my blog last year. It was one of my first posts! The FDL and I have come such a long way… Anyway, Let me know what you think and what other recipes you would want me to show you how to do in the future! #linkinbio for the whole recipe 🙂 . . . Music: Pacific Sun by Hooksounds (www.hooksounds.com)
Something else my mother and I normally do around this time of the year as well is make the pies. Apples and pumpkins are both in season, so now is a great time to make them! And to make our job even easier later, we usually make two of each so we have some for Christmas as well.
Another great idea would be to make your mashed potatoes ahead of time. I used this recipe from About a Mom and they were still good a couple months after freezing them! And yes, if you want them to last in the freezer, do not skimp on any fat. It helps with reducing air contact with the potatoes!
If you check out my Pinterest, I have a board dedicated to freezer-friendly recipes as well.
Lastly, making meatballs ahead of time and heating them up for an appetizer is also a good idea. Speaking of appetizers…
2: Plan to have an appetizer/snack.
Seems counterproductive on the eating holiday of America, right?
Well, appetizers are smart because not only does it stop guests and children from asking you every 5 minutes when dinner is going to be ready, it also quells the hangry as well. In my house, we have breakfast as normal, but skip lunch to have an early dinner, around 3 or 4. That’s still a long time for anyone to not eat.
I remember a couple of years ago, we didn’t have this plan in action and dinner wasn’t ready until actual dinner time. By the time the food was ready, tensions were high, everyone was stuffing their faces and it didn’t really feel like anyone was enjoying the food. They just wanted to eat.
And I felt bad, a bit. I knew everyone had worked hard, but no one had truly eaten all day and were just teased with the smell of good foods wafting from the kitchen.
Last year, we had an appetizer. It might have just been chips and dip, or a cheese plate with crackers. It can be that simple for you too! If you feel like being a little extra, make meatballs and sauce or little pinwheel wraps. Whatever makes you happy. 🙂 But in the end, that little snack was enough to tie us over until the big meal came!
What you should start doing SOON (but feel free to start now!):
3: Have a recipe plan.
What are you going to make? Did you see some fun new recipes you wanted to try this year? And most importantly, what are your guests going to bring (if anything at all)? These are very important questions to ask!
At my house, we have a few staples: Turkey (obvi!), stuffing, mashed potatoes, my corn pudding (it’s better than it sounds, the original recipe is linked in my Thanksgiving Pinterest board), and my sister’s sweet potato casserole. After that, it’s kind of a free-for-all. We’ve tried new dishes; some stick (like the corn pudding and the casserole) and some don’t (like last year’s turnips and brussel sprouts dish).
But last year, after making I had 13 dishes, I realized that I should have definitely had a game plan ahead of time. Sure, it all tasted good, but it was a lot at the end of the day. Having a plan would have helped me visualize what I wanted to make, what I was going to make, and how it would all come out in the end.
Oh, and make sure you make note of what you’re guests are bringing. No need to make things twice!
Feel free to write or type up your list. I typed it because my handwriting is pretty messy (got that southpaw scrawl) and it was easier to visualize. Typing it in comic sans is optional.
4: Write down a shopping list.
Be sure to write down what you will need. Print out any recipes you will need or put them in a central location, like on a board on Pinterest!
Of course, the list of what you need is going to fluctuate right now until you get closer to Thanksgiving, especially when it comes to fresh and perishable items. This is why you write the list now; right before you do your Thanksgiving shopping, check your pantries, refrigerator, and freezer for what you already have. Cross those ingredients off the list, and don’t think about them again until it comes time for cooking!
As you can see on my list, the whole ingredients list of each recipe is not listed. This is because I already have all of those ingredients either in my pantry or freezer. Also I have noted what I want my guests to bring.
Want to be extra prepped? Take a peek at tip #5.
5: What can I buy now?
Well, there are three types of food you can start looking for on your next trip to the grocery store.
Item 1: Canned goods
Canned goods are so shelf stable you could have bought them last year and they’d still be ready for you! I get my cream-style corn for my corn pudding right about this time, but this is also the perfect time to get your cranberry sauce if you want it from a can!
Hey, some people like can cranberry sauce. Whatever floats your boat.
Another canned good to think about is canned biscuits. They’re super easy, super tasty, and are practically a staple (that I will probably make this year!)
Item 2: Frozen foods
This is where I get my French-style beans and pearl onions from for green bean casserole. I made it last, year, and I might just do it again! (Hey, I’m still debating.)
Another popular frozen food to get is your turkey, but make sure there is a decent sale going on before you purchase it. Lastly, if you make frozen pies, now would be a good time to snag those as well.
Item 3: Shelf-stable produce
Your most shelf-stable produce is going to be winter squashes: butternut, acorn, delicata, carnival, and the like. Other ingredients to consider, but possibly closer to Thanksgiving, are potatoes, onions, and garlic.
What you can do a week or so before Thanksgiving:
6: Clean your kitchen.
Yes, these are unpopular words, even to my ears. I am not a big fan of cleaning.
But what I don’t want to deal with is the day-to-day counter clutter when I need every inch of counter space for food and its prep.
Clean off any mail, papers, or magazines. Put away any food items that aren’t going to be used. And if you have appliances that don’t need to be on your counters, move those too. I know that since I use my slow cooker for a few items on Thanksgiving, I’m going to need a little more space than most.
Oh, and clean any clutter off of your table too! Chances are, you might need it for secondary (or tertiary) counter space.
7: Do the rest of your shopping.
Take your list, breathe deeply, and get it done. Bring a (non-alcoholic) drink of choice, and don’t try to do it all the day before! All the fresh turkeys will be gone and you won’t have time to thaw a whole one. Also, everyone else is scrambling around, trying to get everything taken care of. If you HAVE to go to the grocery store on Wednesday, either go early or make sure it’s your last odds and ends.
I have had a couple different years of needing to go down to the grocery store on the day before (even on Christmas Eve!) and it was a madhouse. I’m so glad I wasn’t trying to get everything done because it wouldn’t have happened.
And lastly, THE DAY OF:
8: If they are not cooking, cleaning, or helping, get them out of the kitchen (nicely).
Something that gives me some serious anxiety is when people are just standing in the kitchen, but they aren’t doing anything.
Seriously?? We have seats on the other side of the kitchen you are more than welcome to sit in. We also have space you can stand outside of the kitchen.
But please oh please, don’t stand in the kitchen! It’s tiny enough. This rule might not apply to people with big, open kitchens, but we don’t have that. I’d love to talk to you, just with you outside of the kitchen. 🙂
9: Have fun with it!
Really, how often do you get to have your family and friends at your house? Try not to stress too much. After all, you’ve got your game plan. You know what you’re making and what’s being made. Recruit help, and get it done!
What do you suggest for Thanksgiving hosts and hostesses? Leave your thoughts in the comments down below!
Keep up the good work, love your tips. Sometimes we just need to be reminded Thanksgiving is a
family time and it is ALL ABOUT THE THANKS NOT the stress. Best investment we ever made was the freezer! Plan ahead anytime you are expecting guests!
Haha I know you are when we come to visit!
This is such a great planning resource! I just posted about my favorite Thanksgiving-necessary kitchen gadgets to make all the cooking and hosting that much easier! https://areweadultsyetblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/the-kitchen-gadgets-you-need-for-thanksgiving/
thank you, and I will have to check it out!
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