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Money Matters Blog

Monday, November 10, 2014

Take the Stress Out of Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

Whether it’s your first time tackling the meal or you consider yourself a master chef, Thanksgiving dinner is always is a lot of work for the cooks in the kitchen. After all, there is no better way to tell all of your guests how much you care for them than by filling them with a delicious meal that you’ve made! With about two and a half weeks to go until the big feast, now is the perfect time to start planning the menu and figure out how you will tackle all of your cooking.

Here are some tips to take the stress out of hosting the perfect Thanksgiving for your guests:

1. Buy everything beforehand - About one week out from Thanksgiving, it will be time to clean out the fridge and go shopping. Take a look at your guest list and make an inventory of food allergies and intolerances so you can make a menu based off your guests’ preferences. Purchase foods with a longer shelf life in advance to keep your grocery trips shorter as you get closer to Thanksgiving. This is also a good time to make sure you have all the correct pots, pans and utensils you need. Never leave your shopping until the day before a holiday. This way you can avoid the crowds and also save some money by shopping around for the best prices beforehand.

2. Prepare your home ahead of time - Clean your home, set your table and prepare centerpieces three to five days ahead of time so they are ready for your guests on the actual day. You should also lay out your outfit the night before so you can quickly change into it before your guests arrive for dinner.

3. Make a cooking schedule - Almost everything will need some time in the oven, so a timetable of what dish goes in at what temperature and time will help you bake everything in time for dinner. Depending on the size of your turkey, it might need to thaw three to four days before. Some items can even be made a few days in advanced and frozen, like your pies, soups and cranberries. Casseroles can be prepared and put in the fridge until they need to be baked the day of. The key to getting everything accomplished the day of is prioritizing and not worrying! If things go awry, jump on the Internet to read about quick fixes to dishes you think you may have lost. If you run out of oven space, improvise with a crockpot or the microwave.

4. Be realistic - Don’t worry about impressing your guests with expensive decorations and high-end dining. Making simple and well-known dishes is often better than breaking your budget on a fancy meal you’ve never made before. Set a flexible schedule and be organized the day of, since even the best laid plans can go off track. Just remember that Thanksgiving Day is a family holiday, which we usually enjoy with our relatives and friends. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to make everything perfect.

5. Accept help from others - You might be hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your house, but that doesn’t mean you need to provide all of the food and do all the work. Have your guests bring their favorite side dish or dessert. Delegate kitchen tasks like prep and clean-up to family and friends to alleviate your workload. As a result, you will have more time to enjoy your guests and they will feel included in making the meal a success.

Once everyone is seated at the table eating, bask in the accomplished feeling you have of hosting a wonderful holiday meal! Share your favorite Thanksgiving recipes or tips in the comments section below.

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