Planning a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Entertaining | November 13, 2016 | By

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or so the song goes…..  The holidays are a wonderful time to catch up with family and friends but it can be quite daunting when faced with having to feed and entertain large numbers of people.

Here are some of our simple ideas for helping reduce Thanksgiving entertaining stress:

  • Finalize your menu well in advance so you know what you’re going to be serving.
  • If you want to try new recipes, only do one or two. Have a dry run of the new recipes before the day to reduce any surprises and to see if the recipe is going to be a good match.
  • Have a timetable of the things that need to be done on Thanksgiving Day. Start with determining what time you want to sit down to eat and work from there. Identify what needs to be done and at what time. If you know that you get distracted easily, include everything – even down to what temperature you need to preheat your oven and when it needs to happen. Use the checklist on our Thanksgiving Planner to help you plan out a timetable. It will make for a more enjoyable, stress-free day for you.
  • Keep a Thanksgiving folder with all of the information for the day including recipes, pictures of tablescapes you like, the menu you are going to serve, the checklists mentioned above, and any other information that might help you on the day.
  • Photocopy any recipes you are going to use on the day and place them in plastic sleeves in your Thanksgiving folder. This way all of the recipes are in one location, so you won’t need to hunt them out on the day and try and remember which cookbook they’re in. The plastic sleeves can be removed from the folder when you are using them and if they get grimy, they can be wiped with a damp paper towel. 
  • Work out what serving dishes are going to be used for what recipe. A couple of days beforehand, make sure all the dishes are clean, write on a Post-It Note what recipe the dish is being used for, and stick the note to the plate. This means you won’t be scrambling around trying to find dishes when the meal is cooked and ready to serve.
  • Don’t assume that you have something in your pantry for a particular recipe, physically check it and check to see the expiry date.
  • Review your recipes and prepare a shopping list well in advance so you can make sure that you have the right ingredients to make your dishes. There is nothing more stressful than not being able to find a special ingredient for a dish on the day, and having to make a last minute trip to the store, or worse – having to improvise because you can’t find the ingredient at all.
  • Sort your shopping list into categories for easy shopping so that you aren’t wandering aimlessly around the aisles of your supermarket.
  • Assign people tasks – have someone in charge of drinks, another for taking the food to the table, someone for cleaning up, etc.
  • I don’t know about you but when we’re entertaining at home, everyone seems to want to be in the kitchen. The simplest way around this without offending anyone or everyone, as the case maybe, is having “no go” zones in the kitchen so you’re not constantly tripping over people who are just standing around.
  • Remember, at the end of the day, it’s all about having fun and sharing time with family and friends.

For a little extra help on the planning side, download our Thanksgiving Checklist and Thanksgiving Planner today: