Hosting Thanksgiving, the most important meal of the year, can feel incredibly stressful. Combining relatives, the good china, a Thanksgiving menu filled with generations-old recipes, and finicky poultry is a recipe for a headache. Remove some of that stress with a few easy steps—from throwing together elegant but simple centerpieces to buying a backup turkey—that will ensure the process goes smoothly.
- Streamline Prep Time
The hardest part of hosting Thanksgiving is all the food prep work that needs to happen. The chopping can feel endless. Make sure you have your knives professionally sharpened in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Or invest in a new chef’s knife that will make you look like the host of your own cooking show.
- Clear out the Cupboards
During get-togethers, family tends to congregate in the kitchen, wanting to help cook and clean (or just snoop in your drawers!). The week before the big day, give your kitchen a pre-holiday cleaning. Toss expired pantry items, polish infrequently used stemware, and give the entire kitchen an extra good scrub. (Hire a cleaning service or get the whole family to help out.) Set out supplies you’re going to need and stock up on any useful kitchen tools—a gadget organizer can be a great investment.
- Try Different Turkey Recipes
Yes, Grandma’s famous turkey is delicious. But it’s fun to experiment with a different Thanksgiving menu occasionally. There are plenty of interesting ways to cook a turkey that will give you different flavors and textures. Use a brine, stuff it with a can of beer, smoke it on the barbecue, or add a spicy glaze. You can even fry your turkey with a handy fryer
- Have a Backup Plan
It’s Thanksgiving morning. Santa just appeared in the parade. Your relatives are already on their way. Something will go wrong, so just accept it. But you can also plan for it! Keep extra supplies on hand for the inevitable burning, dropping, or over-seasoning. Stocking things like frozen vegetables, refrigerated rolls in a tube, and ice cream does not make you any less of a Turkey Day host. You can even take a cue from sitcoms before you and have a backup turkey on hand. No one ever has to know.
- Rely on Simple Centerpieces
The most important part of the Thanksgiving menu is the food, not the extras. Simple centerpieces that don’t detract from the feast are best for the table. Your go-to item should be a pretty bowl. With it, you can make plenty of eye-catching arrangements. Fill it with pinecones, clementines, dried cranberries, colored beads—the list is endless. Then call it a day and get back to enjoying the time with your family (or hiding from them in the kitchen).