4 Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving: Family, friends and avoiding the frenzy

We have hosted Thanksgiving for many years now.  We don’t have the largest space, we have family and friends who are all fabulous cooks, and our house is anything but pristinely decorated.  We host because I enjoy hosting, my husband tolerates it, and we’d much rather host than be stuck in traffic to NY both ways.

Here are my top 5 tips for hosting.

Thanksgiving table.
Thanksgiving table.

1) Lists, lists and more lists

Begin with your recipes.  If you are having family members bring part of the feast, check in with them about what dish they would like to contribute.  As for your recipes, take a moment to read them all once through.  It doesn’t take much time, and it will be your saving grace.  Some recipes can be prepared partially a week ahead, others, like cranberry sauce, can be made today and stored in the fridge until Thanksgiving.

Make a list of who is staying where, when everyone comes into town, where they need to be picked up and shuttled, and when each person is leaving.  That will help you see who is around when.  You can plan family outings, dinners, breakfast etc.  Feel free to offer a family breakfast buffet or lunch the day before Thanksgiving for out of town guests, but it’s also fine to let people know they are on their own to explore the city and go out for breakfast or lunch.  You can give them a few suggestions of your own, or give them some blog links to help them choose for themselves: Eater Boston, Hidden Boston, @bffoodie, KidNosh, MCSlim JB just to name a few.

2) Calendar

Once you have your lists, it is time to grab the calendar.  Today is Tuesday, November 18th.  You have 9 days until Thanksgiving.  If you plan carefully that will feel like 108 long hours to work with.  If you just play it by ear it will feel like 9 short days.  Write down what you will do each day.  You’ll notice that perhaps one evening is gone because you have meetings or a sports game one weekend day.  Figure out which mornings before or afternoons after work are free for shopping, sorting, cleaning, polishing.

3) Turn off Food Network, Close Martha Stewart Magazine, & Tap into your own world

The Food Network and Martha Stewart Magazine are great for inspiration, but if you spend too long with them you’ll start to get overwhelmed with what to do.  Take a little walk or sit in a comfy chair with a  cup of tea and think about what is important to you this year.  Do you want to make cute place tags?  Do you want to try a new stuffing recipe?  Simple is always better because if you are completely frazzled no one will enjoy Thanksgiving especially not you.  If you love DIY pick one thing to DIY.  If you decide on place tags find a blog you love like DomestiKatedLife and see which ones you love and feel comfortable making.

4) Outsource

There is no shame in buying a few dishes at some of the best local restaurants or shops to round out the Thanksgiving meal.  No one needs to be a domestic goddess here.  Sofra, Hi Rise, South End Buttery, Modern Rotisserie, Formaggio Kitchen, Savenor’s and so many more places have fabulous options for Thanksgiving.  Just order now so you do not miss the deadlines. If you find cute place tags at Paper Source or somewhere, just buy them.  You can make them next year.

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