Thursday, November 3, 2016

Avoid Thanksgiving Stress with a Plan

November is here and that means Thanksgiving is just around the corner! We'll be bringing you more recipes this month, but in the meantime, we thought we'd offer up some tips for avoiding Thanksgiving stress. And guess what? All it involves is making a plan! We're even providing you with a printable planning page that you can print out today to get you started!

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Whether you're hosting Thanksgiving for 2 or for 20, it's always easier to host a dinner when you have a plan. We're opening our  home up to the people that the husband works with so we could be hosting for a much bigger group this year. Good thing we bought a house! We're going to share our tips and ideas for using this page. All you have to do is click on it, print it out, and reference our tips for each section - easy, breezy, and a lot less stressful than throwing it all together last minute!

The Basics
The first thing to consider are your basic details. How many people will be attending? Will it just be family or are you opening your home up to friends as well? If it's just family and no one extra is coming, then your timing is more flexible. If you're inviting others, then you need to consider a time of arrival. You'll also need to consider if you want your guests to bring something or if you'll be providing it all. Be up front with your guests and let them know up front if the event is potluck, BYOB, or anything else special. You're the host so the decisions of how the dinner will go all fall on you.
Main Course
The next step is to figure out your main course. Turkey is the traditional main course for Thanksgiving, but some families like to serve ham along with it. It's also best to find out if any of your guests are vegetarians because you might need an additional main course in that case.

After you decide on the main course, it's time to figure out the sides for the event. If you're going with potluck style, then you can ask your guests to bring sides to go along with the meat. It's perfectly fine to ask them what they'll be bringing to avoid doubles. You can always make a note by each item on the printable of who is bringing it. This will help when you're planning your grocery store trip. Even with a potluck dinner, I would recommend providing one or two sides yourself in case someone has a forgetful moment!

Stumped on possible sides? Check out this list! 
Green beans
Macaroni and cheese
Casseroles - hash brown, green bean, corn, potato, etc
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Pasta salad
Deviled eggs
Cranberry sauce

It's always best to prepare for the sweet tooth that is bound to pop up sometime after dinner! This is another one that you can invite guests to bring to help alleviate your hosting duties. As I mentioned above, feel free to ask your guests what they're bringing to avoid duplicates!

We've got yet another list of ideas for you!
Pumpkin pie (check out our recipe)
Apple pie
Pecan pie
Cherry pie
Ice cream
Homemade fudge or candy
Candied yams

Drinks are another area of decision making. I highly recommend doing BYOB because it allows everyone to enjoy their favorite drink of choice. Discuss in advance if you want alcohol present at your event and make sure you inform your guests of your decision. As the host, it's entirely up to you. (Looking for a festive drink idea? Why not try spiced eggnog or apple cider sangria?)

How will you entertain your guests? They'll certainly be entertained by food for part of the time but do you need to have other activities available? If your guests don't know each other, activities can be a big way to break the ice. You could watch football, play games (one of our favorite adult group games is Boxers or Briefs), or host a discussion using discussion cards. The activities you choose will really depend on who's attending your event.

Every party deserves fun decorations. Thanksgiving is no exception. This is the perfect time to create a beautiful display on your table. A few other things to consider for your "decorations" includes whether or not you'll use paper products or normal dishes, where you'll set all of the food, and where everyone will sit during dinner.

Other Things to Consider
These aren't on the planning page but they are things to consider as you make your hosting decisions.

Do you need appetizers? If people are arriving right before dinner then you can forego the appetizers. However, if people are coming over to help with the cooking, some snack foods might be nice to have around.

Will there be kids in attendance? How will you keep them entertained during the non-eating hours? Will you have a separate table for the kids or are they old enough to sit among the adults?

Does anyone have any allergies or special needs that you should take into account? This could include gluten free, specific allergies, or vegetarian preferences. All of these should be considered when you're planning the menu and events of the night.

Keep in mind that planning will help lessen the stress of Thanksgiving, but it won't make things perfect. Even the best laid plans can go awry so be flexible and go with the flow as needed! And definitely don't forget to print out the planning page!

We'd love to hear about your Thanksgiving plans and favorite foods in the comments below! Do you know yet what you'll be doing or is it all still up in the air?

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