You’ve thought it over. You’ve weighed the pros and cons. You’ve made your decision…and you’ve sent out the invites. Ready or not, you’re hosting your first Thanksgiving feast!
Well, thankfully (see what we did there?), we’ve arranged some of our favorite Turkey Day tips into this handy-dandy helper for a first-time host.
Give Your Guests a Role
Ask your friends and family to contribute by making a travel-safe side dish or dessert. Or, if you want to handle the cooking, have them help out with some of the easier prep work like table setting, plating food or serving drinks. Not only does this keep everyone involved and included, it also helps shrink your to-do list!
Don’t Skip the Starters
You may be too busy to give your guests a whole lot of attention until the meal is served, so entertain them in the meantime with some appetizers, dips, nutritious snacks or a signature drink. And speaking of pre-meal snacks, don’t let yourself go hungry before the feast begins! Instead, have a nutritious snack in the morning like a Mixed Berry Nut Balance bare® to help keep your energy up so you’re not starving before the big meal.
Focus Your Efforts on What Counts
Not every dish has to be a made-from-scratch masterpiece. Don’t underestimate the easy deliciousness (or the stress-relieving qualities) of some store-bought items, like a premade veggie tray, garlic bread or even stuffing.
Mix in Some Novelties and Keep the Classics
Ever been to a concert where the band keeps playing their brand new songs and the crowd starts to get restless waiting to hear their old faves? Well, a holiday meal is a good place to show off your new favorite recipe, but remember that your guests will still be looking for Thanksgiving’s Greatest Hits.
Celebrate the Best of Autumn
When planning your menu, don’t forget to include seasonal produce that’s at its most fantastic in fall. Acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash, multiple varieties of apples, persimmons, pumpkins and cranberries are just a few fall favorites to try incorporating into your meal.
Provide Hearty Vegetarian Options
The big bird in the middle of the table is usually the focus of the meal, but you’ll want your vegetarian guests to enjoy the meal just as much as everyone else. Baked sweet potatoes, meat-free stuffing and vegetarian green bean casserole are all great options.
Make Your Table Beautiful and Bountiful
Think of how your menu will look spread out on the table. Fresh produce always offers a beautiful array of colors. It can be easy to make a Thanksgiving menu full of brown- and beige- colored dishes. Instead, impress your guests with a table as eye-catching as it is mouth-watering.
Make Sure Time is on Your Side
When you are making multiple dishes, it can be tricky to know when to do what so that everything is served hot and ready. Here’s a helpful trick: the period of time the turkey needs to rest after cooking is the perfect time to a) make the gravy using drippings from the cooked bird, and b) mash the potatoes, so that they are still hot when dinner is served.
350° of Preparation
Speaking of timing, many of your favorite Thanksgiving sides can cook at the same temperature as the turkey, so turn that oven into the ultimate multi-tasker! Don’t forget to keep track of how long each dish is cooking and add some oven time for each to accommodate for the door opening and closing.
Even if you forget all the rest of our sage advice, don’t forget this tip. When it comes down to it, no one is grading your hosting skills or entering your cranberry sauce in TV cooking-show competition. Thanksgiving is about spending time with those you love and taking some time to reflect on what’s important in life. So sit back, relax, fix yourself a plate and celebrate another year of memories made!