If you have recently purchased a home for the first time, you may have decided you are ready to host your first formal gathering. Maybe you have had friends over for a backyard BBQ or impromptu drinks on the weekend but hosting a major holiday requires a little more planning and can be rather involved depending on how many people will be coming. If you have decided to take the plunge and host your first Thanksgiving soiree, here’s where to start to make sure you are ready for the big day.
1. Plan your guest list and extend invitations. You will want an accurate headcount for food and so you can prepare seating and make sure you have enough plates, glasses and flatware. It is a good idea to extend the invitation as early as possible if you want everyone to come. Some people may have committed to go somewhere else if you wait too long to invite them so the earlier the better.
2. Make a list of what you plan to serve and start a shopping list of what you will need to purchase.
3. If you will need to borrow or rent any items, go ahead and make arrangements to do so. This doesn’t have to be anything elaborate but if you have 20 guests coming for dinner, you may not have enough china to serve them all so make sure you know this in advance. There are a wide assortment of high quality disposable goods available now so you may decide to purchase disposable plates and other items instead of using real china.
4. Ask for help. If multiple families will be joining you, ask them to help with meal preparation. Hosting doesn’t mean you have to do it all. Providing the location will require a lot of work on your part so lighten your load some if you can.
5. If you plan to order any part of the meal such as dessert or another item, go ahead and place the order.
6. Make a list of everything that needs to be done before Thanksgiving. This should include meal preparations, cleaning, rearranging furniture if needed, picking up anything you need to, buying the groceries and confirming attendance.
7. Make sure you decide if you will cook a fresh or frozen turkey. Frozen turkeys can take a long time to thaw depending on how big they are so you will need to purchase it far enough in advance so it has time to thaw it if you will be cooking a frozen turkey.
8. Make a trip to the grocery store. A list is essential to get everything you need. Do not wait until the day before Thanksgiving to go to the grocery store. The grocery store will be very busy on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and there will be items that are sold out (including the fresh turkey you were counting on). Plan in advance. Shop the weekend before the holiday or Monday at the latest to guarantee good selection and lower crowds.
9. Clean the house the weekend before the holiday. You will likely want to start preparing the meal by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest so do the things that can be done in advance early.
10. Plan an accurate timeline of when each item will be cooked. Even if you have double ovens, getting all of the items in and out of the oven at the right time will take some planning. Plan accordingly so you aren’t overwhelmed when you have three things that need to go in the oven at the same time.
Thanksgiving can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Good planning will ensure everything runs smoothly if you put the necessary time into it in advance. Remember, this doesn’t have to be a lavish affair so don’t overestimate what you can accomplish. Focus on the reason for the holiday and try not to stress yourself out so that you don’t get to enjoy the day.