Hosting the Thanksgiving Day meal takes some planning. What follows is my best menu (with prep and cooking notes) developed over the four years we’ve hosted Thanksgiving. To view recipes for highlighted items click HERE.
Keep other day-of meals simple.
For breakfast we do no-prep, no-mess items like fruit, yogurt, muffins or cereal. Lunch consists of light appetizers and finger foods to curb everyone’s hunger until 2PM when dinner is served. Consider paper or plastic tableware for additional meals you need to provide so you can save your lovelies for the big meal.
Plan for leftovers.
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving clean out your fridge and make room for prepped dishes and inevitable leftovers. Take care to have plenty of plastic wrap, tin foil and airtight stackable containers. Label leftovers for your guests during clean-up and put yours away in a freezer or deep freeze to save space.
Let your guests know what they can do while you are working in the kitchen.
If you would like help, ask. If not, direct guests to areas of your home where activities have been planned for them. It is in your best interest to keep idle hands out of the kitchen (especially if it is small!).
Have your table set before the bulk of your guests arrive.
Because it has been important for us to include everyone around one table, we have had to be creative with seating. More often than not, our living room/dining room furniture has to be rearranged or removed to accommodate additional tables. Consider beforehand special seating arrangements (i.e. family members with disabilities, small children who need assistance, kitchen helpers who need easy access away from the table) and set place cards out accordingly.
Stay on top of the mess.
Dishes can pile up quickly on Thanksgiving. Enlist the help of willing volunteers to clean and put away items not in use. Know the length of your dishwasher cycle and plan accordingly. Working at the mess on a consistent basis through the day means you will be able to more fully enjoy your guests throughout the day (and not regret the whole experience after it’s over) :).
What have you learned from experiences hosting Thanksgiving?