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Thanksgiving Hosting: Getting Ready for Food and Family


The brilliant hues of fall arrive and the suddenly dark and chilly mornings mean that the holiday season will arrive sooner than you can say “thaw the turkey.” Anyone who has hosted a holiday gathering will tell you that without proper planning, what is supposed to be a joyous coming together of friends and family can turn into a social disaster.

As a host or hostess, not only are you inviting people into your home, but you’re also inviting the potential for stress into your life. To help you and your guests enjoy the holidays, we’ve compiled a list of tips and a couple of links to help keep the stress out your party and the joy in your seasons.

Take a look around the house

Are there any jobs or chores that need to be completed to get your home ready for the long, cold winter (assuming you live in a climate that suffers through long, cold winters)? Get them done sooner rather than later. Prepping your house for winter is pretty basic stuff: Check for gaps around windows and doors and seal them up, get your storm windows up, and get your furnace or boiler tuned up. All the good food in the world won’t offset the discomfort felt by your guests if your house isn’t ready for the season.

Start compiling a list (or two, or three)

Remember last year when Aunt Edna showed up with three long-lost cousins and you had just assumed she would be coming alone? Call around and start inviting people to get a feel of how many guests you’ll have. As you begin the process of making shopping lists you will, of course, need to know how many people you’ll have for the gathering. Planning a Thanksgiving dinner is a daunting task, so with that in mind we recommend you check out this article from Real Simple, which gives you comprehensive list of tasks and tricks to make the days leading up to the party go smoothly.

Shop early!

Once you have your guest list solidified, make your shopping list and make a trip to the store for items that might be hard to find as the party approaches. If you have a specific plan for Thanksgiving turkey preparation, be sure to order ahead of time to ensure the bird will be ready when you need it. And while you’re at it, why not make a call to your cleaning service and schedule a house cleaning before the gathering. If you haven’t used a service in the past, think of the hours spent cleaning your house to get ready for the event and decide whether or not you can put a price on that time. And remember, everyone else who uses the service will want their homes cleaned before the holiday, too, so don’t hesitate to get on their calendar now!

Craft a plan and accept a helping hand

Lay out a schedule for the week prior to the party and do your best to stick to it. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving Day to start cooking. Prepare as much as you can in advance and remember, if someone offers to help with the cooking, let them. Do you need to clean the dust off the wine glasses or polish the silver? Recruit your spouse and kids to help with the small tasks, right down to folding napkins, setting the table, and greeting guests.

Remember whose kitchen it is!

Inevitably, party guests flock to the kitchen – it’s the center of the action, especially early in a gathering. If you’ve ever tried to get a big meal on the table, you know how hard it can be with people hovering over you. Recruit one or two “official” helpers and politely encourage everyone else to take the conversation away from the prep area. Let them know that they’re more than welcome to stick around, but if they do so they will be responsible for the cleanup after dinner. That should move them out quickly!

Get the food out, get the guests seated, and take a moment to relax

As your guests get settled and the food begins to get passed, take a deep breath and relax before heading to the table. The hard work is done and the time has arrived to enjoy your friends and family. You’ve earned (and created) a fantastic gathering and meal. Now about that cleanup…

Photo courtesy of CarbonNYC on Flickr