Whether this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving or your 20th, there are always ways to make your entertaining easier and stress free. You want your guests to feel relaxed and comfortable – and you should convey that as well – or at least look that way! Since I am always the host, here are a few of my tips that have always proven successful to the point that Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday.
Always set the table a few days out, this way if you are short on utensils, place settings or anything for that matter, there is time to get it. Make place cards – if using – and go over the seating. Custom creations for place cards are always a nice addition to the table. Try tying an attractive piece of paper to a pear or small pumpkin and place on each plate. I have also used small acorn ornaments tied around the napkins with a place card attached.
I like to give my guests something to take home as well, I have used beautiful foil wrapped chocolate turkeys at childrens place settings.
Make a list of everything you are serving. Take that to the grocer as well, just to be sure you don’t forget anything.
Plan a beautiful centerpiece, but keep the height at a level where people can look over at each other. Use tea lights here and there to create a glow among the glassware and dishes. I prefer them to tapers because there is less risk of drips and falling tapers!
The day before thanksgiving, refer to your menu. Place on the buffet or where ever you will be serving, the serving dishes you intend to use. Take a sticky note and write on it what you are serving in that particular dish and label it. Place the serving utensils in or next to the dish as well. This way you avoid that last minute scramble looking for that casserole that is at the bottom of that large pile in the back of the cupboard!
Clear your refrigerator of any extraneous food. Get rid of old left-overs, condiments, anything that is taking up too much space. You want your refrigerator to be ready to take on the leftovers, so your not left shuffling things around to make room after dinner.
Put the butter out the day before (covered) so it has time to soften. Do not fill your salt shakers if they are silver until the morning of. Salt is corrosive to silver, I learned this the hard way!
If you are serving hors d’oeuvres, take out cheeses that need to soften early in the day. Again, have plates, napkins and service ware out where it is to be presented. Make your cheese platters, vegetable platters early in day and store covered in refrigerator ready to take out at the last minute.
Keep your menu list next to where you are cooking. When it starts to get busy, it can be easy to forget something you planned to serve, like leaving the applesauce in the fridge. I will admit, I have been known to find roasted potatoes in the oven………….after dinner!
Make sure your dishwasher is emptied and ready to whisk away any dishes that begin to pile up as the day progresses. However, avoid disappearing to the kitchen to clean while your guests are still at the table.
Have all candles lit 1/2 hour prior to guests arriving. Keep scented candles away from the food.
The motto here is, the more you can do ahead the better. This way you too will be able to relax and enjoy the day with your guests.
Have a beautiful Thanksgiving!