You look forward to Thanksgiving each November. But this year is different – it’s your first holiday in your new home! You want it to be really unique. Fear not. We have some tips to make the day special and not too stressful!
Early planning is the key to a stress-free Thanksgiving.
Invite everyone far enough in advance. Even if your friends and family are spur-of-the-moment types, they may still make Thanksgiving plans by the first week of November, so get the word out ASAP. And don’t assume; actually invite. Invite anyone you want to have at dinner, and then let them tell you if they can make it or not.
Think about logistics. Where do you want guests to sit? Where do you want to set up the food? Sit down dinner? Buffet style? Everyone together in one room / at one table? Children in another room / another table? Do you have enough tables & chairs? Do you need to borrow or rent them?
Start thinking about the menu. Decide if you’d like your guests to bring something. Chances are your guests will want to bring things… you just have to tell them what. And if your vegan sister asks what you’re going to be serving, show her the menu, and ask if she would like to bring a vegan dish to share with the group.
Planning and organizing isn’t just nice; it’s crucial to ensuring you don’t find yourself with missing ingredients, a house that’s a mess and three hours of cooking still to be done when your guests arrive.
- Make lists of everything you need to do for your dinner
- Prepare a schedule for the weeks leading up to dinner
- Write shopping lists before you head to the store for ingredients and supplies.
Cook in advance.
Don’t stress out by trying to cook everything on Thanksgiving day. Create a timeline, and figure out what can be made ahead of time. Casseroles can be premade. Vegetables can be chopped and ready to steam. Obviously some things can’t be cooked early, like the turkey, but almost everything else in the meal can be prepped and ready to just pop on the stovetop or into the oven.
Serve something fun.
Turkey and mashed potatoes are classic Thanksgiving dishes, but aren’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. It’s your first Thanksgiving, so why not start your own tasty traditions? If everyone loves Aunt Betty’s lasagna, then ask her for the recipe and serve lasagna alongside the turkey! If you’ve always wanted to smoke a turkey, go ahead and try it! It’s your show and your rules!
Set up the table(s) in advance.
As long as you don’t have to worry about pets or small children destroying your dining room table, set it several days before the holiday.
- Get a tablecloth that is clean and fits your table(s). Flat sheets make great tablecloths.
- Find the best china that’s still packed somewhere in the basement. Need dishes or glassware? Check your local thrift shop.
- Count the flatware to make sure you have enough.
- For place cards, cut up index cards, and glue on fake autumn leaves. Or attach name tags to mini pumpkins, pears or pomegranates.
Prepare every room in the house.
Start your holiday with a clean kitchen. Empty the dishwasher and trashcans. Line your bins with more than one bag so that you have a fresh bag ready to go when one becomes full. Remove precious objects from the living room to save them from hyper nieces and nephews. If coats and bags are going on your bed, cover it with a sheet to protect it from the elements.
Figure out the decoration situation.
Don’t bother with elaborate floral fantasies. Go “shopping” in your backyard for branches of holly, crab apple, or bittersweet berries. They’re cheap, easy to find and seasonally appropriate. Pumpkins are also an easy seasonal centerpiece. Gather mini pumpkins or gourds of various colors and sizes on a platter. Consider adding pomegranates and other seasonal fruits for visual interest.
Offer snacks before dinner.
Tasty appetizers benefit the cook as much as the guests. They stay busy munching while you finish up in the kitchen! Try nuts, crackers and cheese, crudité or hot apps.
Keep the kids busy.
For children, it seems like Thanksgiving dinner takes foreveeeer to land on the table. Keep ’em occupied with cute and crafty projects they can assemble with a favorite relative.
Most of all, just remember to have fun!
Headquartered in Burr Ridge, Illinois, Beechen & Dill Homes is recognized as one of Chicagoland’s most buyer-friendly and distinctive home builders. Beechen & Dill Homes has constructed an award-winning reputation over 40 years and dozens of planned communities and custom home projects inChicago’s south and southwest suburbs. For more information, please visit beechendill.com.