Preparation is key. So prepare to have a great time.
The best holiday of the year is already here and many of you may be hosting for the first time. Since Thanksgiving often consists of a guest list including more than your immediate family, it is important to feel prepared in advance, so you can enjoy yourself and make any new company feel welcome. Eliminate your anxiety, keep scrolling and prepare to start the holidays off right, full & feeling rewarded.
Tip #1. Set the table first.
Most people think about setting the table right before guests arrive, but it can easily become an oversight when you only have fifteen minutes before the doorbell rings, and you still need to get ready. If you set your table as soon as you wake up in the morning, you will not even need to write it down on your to do list.
Tip #2. Ask one to two people to arrive early.
You are thinking, this is the last thing I want when entertaining. We all know the distant relatives who arrive right on time when you are in the middle of getting ready, or you are finishing your final touches on the house. Ask your best friend, mom or someone who requires little effort to entertain and be a decoy to these oh-so-punctual guests. They will give you the confidence to put on an amazing party with less worry, knowing you have a contingency plan if you are running behind schedule. The holiday season is just beginning, so you can return the favor the next time they host.
Tip #3. Have music everyone will love.
Thanks to Spotify, Apple Music & Sonos we can make our home or apartment ready for a party in a snap. I remember spending hours creating my own playlists in my early twenties, but thanks to these handy applications it is no longer something I need to plan doing ahead of time... sort of. Just because you can access music genres & lists at the click of the button does not mean a surprise Nicki Minaj song will not come on as your Grandfather is saying Grace. Double check your favorite playlists to make sure they are right for all of your guests.
My personal go to: Spotify's "Stop hey what's that sound" playlist, a mix of well known oldies. Find it here: https://open.spotify.com/user/1210834641/playlist/5IGKPMD5oDIIKvoHWBjF6i?si=9L3l0tfYTSqZEhupS9vAvQ
Tip #4. Prepare the menu the day before.
This may seem obvious, but it gives me second-hand anxiety when I ask hosts what they are making and what I can bring, and they do not know! The key to knocking Thanksgiving out of the park is to be organized. Make a list of everything you want to cook and everything everyone is bringing so you have a strong grasp on your spread. This can feel overwhelming when you have a full time job, so if you can stay organized with what you are serving, take advantage of applications like Amazon Prime and Instacart to have all the ingredients you need delivered right to your home, and therefore to your plate! See what I did there? :)
Tip #5. Invest time into creating a conversation-starting dish.
To me, I love when a dish tells a story. Sometimes I recreate my mom's famous baked brie, my grandmother's chocolate marshmallow cookies or I put a modern spin on a traditional recipe. Food is the ultimate love language. If you can share a piece of who you are with food, your guests will feel an instant authentic welcome, knowing that you allocated time to create something that shares a piece of your personal history.
Tip #6. Make sure you have the obvious, non-obvious covered.
What am I talking about? Paper towels, toilet paper, hand towels, soap, candles, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic...etc. Do a quick audit to double check you are stocked with all the essentials you typically have in inventory. There is nothing worse than running out of paper towels when you are trying to clean up and move on to the next course.
Tip #7. Empty the dishwasher before guests arrive.
Sometimes the dishwasher can be a natural hiding place when you are tidying up last minute. Do yourself a favor, and make sure the sink and the dishwasher are completely empty before guests arrive. This will make course transitions a million times easier.
Tip #8. Invest in stemless wine glasses, for every beverage.
I am the first host to want my bar stocked with rocks glasses, large & medium body red wine glasses, white wine glasses & beer glasses. But, when you are entertaining large quantities of people, I promise it is not worth it. Invest in inexpensive stemless glasses that can suit everyone's palette and are dishwasher safe.
Tip #9. Create a bar space where guests can help themselves.
It can be overwhelming socializing, cooking & ensuring everyone is having a great time. Remove your responsibility of checking on refills and define a clear space where wine drinkers, beer drinkers and teenagers alike can help themselves.
Tip #10. Enjoy yourself!
The most important tip of all is to enjoy yourself! Take advantage of tips one through nine, and even perhaps buy yourself a new outfit. You want to look forward to this event you are putting so much time into, and it is critical for guests to feed off of this energy. The best thing you can do, if nothing else, is share your holiday spirit. This way, if the turkey is still frozen, everyone will only remember having a great time!