It's never too early to prepare to host Thanksgiving. Whether you're hosting for the first time or have experience wrangling the turkey, use this checklist to stay on track and reduce stress heading into the Thanksgiving holiday.
Check Food Allergies and Dietary Restrictions
These days, it seems like everyone is avoiding something. It's better to find out in advance, so you can make sure that there's at least one dish without gluten, dairy, nuts, or other allergens. Checking in with food allergies and dietary restrictions not only shows your guests that you care, it helps you plan the menu.
It's never too early to ask, so check in with guests once you invite them to come for Thanksgiving. Keep a chart going of dietary preferences, then strive to make sure there will be at least one dish guests can eat.
Get Organized in Advance
Leading up to Thanksgiving, stores become crowded. Gather serving dishes, extra chairs, cocktail napkins, and other sundries in advance so you can pick up anything you need without fighting the holiday crowds.
Anything you can do before Thanksgiving week to take the strain off the holiday is beneficial. So, whether it's picking out your outfit or arranging for a cleaner, knock things off your list in advance.
Delegate Other Tasks
Leading up to Thanksgiving, don't forget to delegate tasks to guests. People like helping out on holidays. Those who live nearby can bring a dish; those flying in from out of town could pick up wine, watch the children, or take dish duty. Don't be afraid to ask others for help because there's a lot that must come together.
Create a Cooking Checklist
There's less pressure with potluck Thanksgiving dinners where everyone contributes a dish. However, when you're in charge of the majority of cooking, you will need a checklist to stay on task. List out every item you plan to cook, including when you want to make, so you can stay on track and not miss a dish.
Set the Table
The night before Thanksgiving, set the table for the holiday. Consider adding a children's table if there are a lot of little ones at your gathering or assigning seats to ensure a pleasant experience for all. This is a perfect task to give visiting relatives who've arrived early; they will appreciate the chance to help and you will enjoy getting them out of your hair.
Set Up an Appetizer Station
Guests have a knack for hovering in the kitchen to see what they can do. On Thanksgiving, when you're trying to bring everything together for the meal, this can become vexing. Give them a place to go by creating an appetizer station with snacks and drinks. Set out small plates (disposable is fine) along with entertainment, whether it's board games or television. Assign one of your house guests the role of greeter; they can direct people to the snack area so you have time to finish cooking.
Last but not least, relax. Even if everything's not perfect, you're able to enjoy a holiday meal with friends and family and that deserves a moment of gratitude.
The checklist covers the Thanksgiving essentials, from setting the guest list through to the big day. All that's left to do is determine what to do with all that leftover turkey when the meal is over!