Hosting Thanksgiving for the First Time

Nov 21, 2019  |  Mary Parker

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and for many of us, it’s a time of equal excitement and panic. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, you may be starting to worry about how much there will be to do for the big day. You’ve got to plan a menu, clean your house, go to the store, prepare dishes, and don’t forget roasting the perfect turkey.


Hosting Thanksgiving is a big job, but with a little organization and planning, you can have a perfect event nearly hassle-free. Read on to get some tips and tricks for hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving.


Make as Much Ahead as Possible


The key to hosting a happy, successful Thanksgiving is to create as little work for yourself as possible on the big day. That means making as much of the food ahead as you can manage to. That way, on Thanksgiving Day, you can focus on your guests and putting the finishing touches on everything.


When you’re planning your Thanksgiving menu, look for items that can be made ahead of time. You want to look for casseroles and dishes that have the phrase “Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.” Assemble these dishes as much as possible, or at least chop up the ingredients and prepare them as much as possible. 


Stick to the Classics


Trying out new dishes is wonderful, but Thanksgiving is not the right time to do it. For one thing, Thanksgiving is about the classics, so it’s a good idea to lean into that nostalgia. But for another, you don’t want to be figuring out a dish for the first time when you’re going to be serving it to your entire extended family.


Not only is the risk of having a dish wind up bad one you don’t want to have to worry about, new recipes take up a lot of mental energy that you won’t have on Thanksgiving Day. With new recipes, you have to pay attention to amounts and cook times and order that ingredients go in. When everything is crazy and you’re stressed, you want to cook recipes you know well so you don’t have to focus so much on getting them right.


Start Early on Your House Prep 


The food for Thanksgiving can really only be started on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, maybe the Tuesday before, depending on the recipe. But you can still get a head-start on your house prep. There will be just as many things to do around your house as in your kitchen before the big dinner, so get a start early.


Start cleaning your house the week before Thanksgiving, or book a cleaning service to help you out with that task. Make a list of small day-of tasks – things like making sure all guest bathrooms have toilet paper and doing one final dust of all surfaces. Clean your floors the day ahead, wash all the windows down a few days ahead, and give your kitchen one last wipe-down the day before.


Start the Turkey on Wednesday


One of the biggest tasks you’ll have on Thanksgiving is cooking the turkey. Roasting a turkey takes hours, lots of attention, and a(n un)healthy amount of butter. Luckily, this is one task you can tackle before the big day, too.


It’s a great idea to roast your Turkey on Wednesday instead of trying to get the whole thing done on Thursday. That way you aren’t getting up at four in the morning trying to get it done on time and exhausting yourself before the guests even arrive. On Thanksgiving Day, you can do the final browning and warm the turkey up at the same time. 


Have Some Wine Ready


Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family, and while this is hopefully a joyful affair, there may be some mixed feelings at your dinner table, depending on your Thanksgiving situation. A great way to ease tensions and get everyone in a happy mood is to have some wine ready to go. You can also impress your guests by choosing a wine that will pair well with the dishes you’re serving.


If wine isn’t your family’s thing, you can have some great pitcher cocktail recipes mixed up and ready to go. Or if you’re having a dry Thanksgiving, have a pitcher of tea, some mocktails, or another gorgeous non-alcoholic beverage at the ready. Being able to offer your guests refreshments as soon as they arrive will also help buy time to finish out any last touches on the food.


Make a Timeline


One great way to keep yourself organized the week of Thanksgiving is to make a timeline of everything that needs to happen. Make a list of all tasks for cleaning the house, the yard, the shopping, and the kitchen. Then decide what day they need to happen on, and make a schedule.


When you’re making your schedule, be sure to assign some tasks for your family. When you’ve volunteered to be the host, it can feel like you have to do everything yourself. But remember, your family’s there to help you, so lean on them for help with the preparation.


Make Time for You


One of the most important things you need to put on your schedule for the day of Thanksgiving is some time for you to spend on you. Schedule in at least half an hour on the morning of for you to take a shower, brush and maybe blow-dry your hair, and get dressed. When your guests arrive, you don’t want to be stressed about having greasy hair and stained clothes because you haven’t stopped running all day.


This will also give you some time by yourself to take a deep breath before the event begins. Hosting is difficult and demanding, and you need to give yourself space to unwind before your guests arrive. Take the time when you’re getting ready to step back from the craziness of the holiday and center yourself.


Get Prepared for Hosting Thanksgiving 


Hosting Thanksgiving is an exciting prospect and an important event for many people But it’s also a demanding task that requires lots of organization and preparation. Do as much as you can in advance, make a schedule, and don’t forget to take time for yourself, too. 


If you’d like to get help with your Thanksgiving preparations, reach out to us at Anita’s Housekeeping. If you live in Santa CruzSan Diego, or San Jose, we can help you find experienced, background-checked professionals to make your holiday go smoother. Request a booking for Thanksgiving week today, and take one more thing off your to-do list.

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