With the parades, football games and plenty of food, Thanksgiving is usually enjoyed by all. But what if you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner and welcoming friends and family into your home? Thanksgiving can all of a sudden become very stressful and overwhelming.
Rest assured, by following the 5P formula (prior planning prevents poor performance), hosting Thanksgiving at your home can be an enjoyable and memorable occasion for you and your guests.
- your homework
- keep a list
- have a variety of beverages on hand
- set the mood
- iron your linens
- forget about coffee and tea service
- forget the tunes
- wait for the last minute
- forget the snacks
- forget to make time for yourself
Find out ahead of time if any of your guests have food allergies or other dietary restrictions and plan your menu accordingly or prepare a buffet with a variety of items from which to choose. My advice is to keep it simple and serve what you know. Don’t try to serve an unfamiliar, complicated, or labor-intensive dish your first time out, especially if you are entertaining your boss or an important client. One of your tried-and-true recipes is best. If you want to live on the wild side and serve something exotic or extra special, prepare it at least two or three times before you decide to serve it to guests.
Just as you would with a business plan, write down all of the items you need to make your meal complete. It’s especially frustrating when you think you have all of your ingredients and then discover in the midst of cooking that you don’t have enough salt, sugar, or butter. If that happens, I hope you have a good relationship with your neighbors, or you’ll be making a mad dash to the store at the last minute.
The mark of a good host is to have a few bottles of red and white wine along with plenty of nonalcoholic beverages for the teetotalers in the group.
Candles are an easy, inexpensive, quick way to make any home more inviting. And we all know that everyone and everything looks better by candlelight. Buy as many candles as you can and place them throughout your house. Remember to reserve a few unscented ones for the dinner table. Light your candles approximately fifteen or twenty minutes prior to your guests’ arrival, and then light the candles on your dinner table just before everyone sits down to dine.
When you are serving cocktails, provide linen cocktail napkins or, at the very least, decorative paper cocktail napkins. For dinner, use linen napkins because they’re more elegant than paper ones.
About an hour before your party, set up your coffeemaker and put cream, milk, sugar, and sweetener in decorative containers. Put condiments in attractive bowls or containers rather than placing bottles directly on the table. Put your coffee cups, saucers, teaspoons, and assorted teas on a tray on a side table.
Music is a vital element in the staging of a good holiday party, as it sets the tone for the evening. Create a playlist on your iPod or iPhone or preset your CD player so there’s music in the air when your guests arrive and keep it playing throughout the evening.
It could be good to set your table the night before. It is also good to clean and polish your serving pieces and fill your salt and pepper shakers a few days before Thanksgiving to avoid last-minute flurries. Doing as much as you can ahead of time will allow you to have a good time.
You’ve put a lot of time and effort into the turkey and traditional foods, but don’t forget the snacks. This includes nuts, chips, salsa or dip, one or two different cheeses, crackers, and one or two kinds of frozen appetizers. Choose hors d’oeuvres that are easy to eat and require only one bite. This will ensure that no one gets crumbs on his or her nice outfit or on your floor.
Allow plenty of time to shower, get dressed, and look your best for your party. You’ll want to greet your guests at the door with a relaxed smile on your face. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will feel, and the better time you’ll have at your own Thanksgiving dinner.
By following the list of dos and don’ts, Thanksgiving dinner is sure to be a big success. In fact, chances are your guests will have such a great time, they’ll turn to you to host it again next year.