I hope I didn’t come off as a know-it-all in my post on Monday. I am the last one to claim that I am the expert on hosting large groups of people, but I do know what makes it easier for me. So, with proper humility, I give you the rest of my tips for making Thanksgiving dinner (or any other big dinner party) a little easier.
Everyone knows the party always ends up in the kitchen. I love it and think it is great. If you are someone who doesn’t like to share the cooking, or you have a tiny kitchen, plan for that. Have appetizers and drinks in the living room or dining room to encourage people to stay there. If you don’t mind company, or want the help, plan what tasks you can delegate, and then do it. Lesson 4 for Turkey Day: Put your guests to work, or give them something else to do while you happily work alone.
I am a planner. I do not do well with change or surprises, generally. I do find that if I have the time to make plans, build in extra cooking time and have back-ups available, I am much better at going with the flow. Whether you like order as much as I do, or you would rather fly by the seat of your pants – get organized for Thanksgiving. Lesson 5: Make a plan. I write out a list, complete with menu, shopping list, cooking times and a plan for when different things go in the oven. It helps to avoid those last minute realizations that the turkey will never be done in time or that no one remembered to buy cranberries.
Lesson 6: Do as much ahead of time as possible. I do as much cooking as I can on Wednesday, including dessert (always pies for our Thanksgiving). I make as many side dishes as possible, ready to bake when the turkey comes out, or to serve cold. I even set the table and bring up the extra chairs from the basement the day before. I want to be able to enjoy the party too, so the more prep work I can do, the better.
Finally, a tip for the guests – help your host. Offer to bring a dish, ask if you can help with prep work or wash the dishes. Better yet, just pitch in. There really are very few people who don’t welcome help with the dishes after a big meal. Or do like my mother does, and start washing dishes while the prep work is going on. She loves to have as many dishes washed as possible before we ever sit down at the table. Thank you, Mom!
What tips do you have for making the day go a little more smoothly?