10 Tips for a Stress-free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a major holiday for me. It doesn't matter whether I'm attending a party elsewhere or hosting my own dinner, I take Thanksgiving dinner seriously.

The reason it's so important is because I only spend it with people I care about. I go through extra care preparing food. I buy only the best and I take my time preparing each dish. This is the one day I don't cut corners because it's my way of showing thanks to the people who mean the most to me.

I don't have to tell you that holidays are stressful. If you're hosting, it's doubly manic. For this reason I've come up with a few tips that keep me from getting frustrated.
  1. Start now. Make a list of who's coming to dinner, what you want to serve, and another list of any food allergies among the guests.
  2. Don't overdo the decorations. A simple wreath at the door or a few candles on the mantel is all you'll need. If it's chilly, be sure to light the fireplace for a nice warm glow.
  3. Shop now. Don't wait until the week before a major holiday. Buy your turkey, ham, or roast now while you have the best choice at the stores.
  4. Buy non-perishables or frozen foods now. This includes anything from peas to fresh cranberries. You want to keep as few last minutes dashes to the store to a minimum.
  5. Don't get fancy. Now is not the time to try out a new recipe. Stick to the old favorites and the ones you do well. If you're not sure, ask your friends what side dish they liked best from your last meal.
  6. If you're not a good cook, don't fret. Lots of places offer entire meals. The trick is to choose the right one. I've never done this, but from what I hear from friends, the local grocery store usually has the driest birds. Go to places that specialize in hams or poultry.
  7. Also, if you're not up to making a whole meal, outsource your meal to professionals or friends. If you know you make mean pumpkin pie, outsource the ham to Honey Baked Ham or a Cajun restaurant that specializes in fried turkey.
    PS  For what it's worth, a few of the companies I've worked for bought their fried turkeys from rib joints. Best I've ever tasted--except for the one Greg made.
  8. Ask for help. I used to be shy about asking my guests to pitch in, but I got over it. :) Give everyone a dish to bring. If they don't cook, ask them to bring a bottle of wine or some fresh bread. Believe me, if I'm invited to a dinner, I bend over backwards to bring whatever I'm asked. I guarantee you, any good guest will feel the same.
  9. Buy yourself plenty of aluminum foil food containers. I make sure everyone leaves with a little goody box of food.
  10. When it's all over, put the dishes in the sink to soak (or the dishwasher), get into your favorite chair and put your feet up. You deserve it.


lynnviehl said…
We've downsized our dinner to just our favorite dishes. I'm also happy and grateful when guests offer to pitch in, especially when they have a special dish they like to have for the holiday. One year friends brought that infamous green bean casserole, for example. It's not one of our traditions (I make southern-style green beans) so I have no idea how to make it.

My daughter offered to make dessert for Thanksgiving this year and I immediately said Yes, thank you. I'll still make her a homemade pumpkin pie, but now I don't have to worry about a second dessert for everyone who doesn't like pie (primarily, me and my guy.)
Maria Zannini said…
Lynn: I'm always appreciative when guests offer to bring something. It makes it feel more like family that way.

I've never made green bean casserole. I usually make asparagus, peas and mashed potatoes. But it changes depending on whatever someone else brings. I also finally fine tuned my stuffing (dressing). It's become a big hit. I always make an extra large casserole of it because everyone wants to take that home.
Stacy McKitrick said…
Our friend will not be cooking this year :( because she's going to her husband's family for Thanksgiving. So... It looks like we'll be going to Bob Evans. I'm all about the easy! :)
Maria Zannini said…
Stacy: We don't have Bob Evans by us, but if I ever see one, I will check it out.
LD Masterson said…
Well, we'll be all family this year so food preferences and allergies and such are all known. Various family members will bring their favorite items and I'll cook the turnkey and the basics to go with it. We'll overeat, play games, and try to work in a little Christmas for the Marine who won't be here in December.
Michael Keyton said…
What can I say? I envy Thanksgiving and I hope you both have a great one - and have a 'can' tucked away - perhaps as an hors d'oeuvre - for Greg to get into.
Maria Zannini said…
Linda: Oh, I'm sorry Drake won't be there for Christmas. I know you'll make it up to him.
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: If you ever come back to the States, you must come over Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July. Either way, there'll be more food choices than you ever thought possible.
Mike keyton said…
Thanks, Maria. Extremely tempting
Maria Zannini said…
You're always welcome, Mike.