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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Buy yourself plenty of aluminum foil food containers. I make sure everyone leaves with a little goody box of food.
- 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.