Sidney Portier is not eating dinner at my house, neither is Ashton Kutcher. Actually, no one is coming to Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year; we’ll be driving across town to my sister-in-law’s house. Who’s coming to dinner at your house? Do you even know? Are you anxious for a tried-and-true method to hosting anyone without (too much) stress? Well then, read on!
1. Make a list of everyone coming and note how many adults (or adult appetites!) and how many children will be there. Make a note if you need to borrow chairs and/or a table and put it on your calendar for a few days before your dinner.
2. Make a complete list of food dishes that you want to serve. Ensure that you’ve planned a well-balanced, healthy meal in addition to all the extra goodies.
3. Assign side dishes and desserts to those coming. There’s no good reason that you should have to cook everything that’s served on your table.
4. On your meal list, mark those recipes that can be made ahead of time and then start on them in the two or three days before your event. Also make a note of approximately how long each dish takes to prepare and bake.
5. Make a separate grocery list for all of the recipes that you’re making. Be sure to add any paper products and decorations you need to purchase.
6. Buy a little bit at a time throughout the month (non-perishables) so that you don’t have an overflowing cart (and bill) the day before your dinner.
7. Start cleaning the weeks before (big stuff), so you just have visible, last-minute vacuuming and bathroom cleaning to do the week/day of (assign as much as possible to the kids).
8. Get up early (this is my least favorite part!) and check your list to see what needs to be prepared first, then work your way down the list. I like to count hours backwards from the time that I want to serve dinner to figure out what time I need to start each item.
9. After you get the main dish(es) cooking, set the table and set out serving bowls, platters, and utensils. We like to use fancy china, linen, and candles, but many people prefer the simplicity of using paper products. Make your decision in the weeks before Thanksgiving, not the morning of your dinner.
10. Next do the last-minute cleaning, then you’re ready to clean yourself up; just make sure you put an apron on for those last-minute preparations.
11. Relax and enjoy your company and your meal! Remember to go around the table and have everyone voice what he or she is most thankful for this year.
12. Accept proffered help (or request it) for the cleanup process. Many hands make light work.
See, having company over for dinner isn’t that scary once you break it down into manageable steps. Happy Thanksgiving!