Hosting a Holiday can get stressful, no matter how much prep and planning you do. Years ago when I hosted my first Thanksgiving I remember just getting so worked up over each and every detail, it gave me so much anxiety…. and let’s not even go into the first Christmas.
Over the years I have learned to stress a little less, and enjoy the moments and time with loved ones. Today I am going to share the steps I take to host a stress free Thanksgiving. Ironically this Thanksgiving I will not be hosting, but am grateful and excited to be a guest at my sister-in-laws home for the day. Here are my tips and stories from the years that will hopefully help you.
- Start early, but not too early. I found that if I started planning too early there really wasn’t much I could tangibly do and that would stress me out. Or even worse I would take the time to complete a task early that was just something I would have to go back and do again before the holiday.
- Work on a simple timeline calendar. Sit down and map it out on paper. Make a list of all the tasks that need completed (think decor, shopping, menu, meal prep, cleaning) and then map it out on a calendar by day you hope to complete it. This really helps me prioritize my time, and helps me balance out my days leading up to the holiday.
- Create a menu. Obviously you want to know what foods you are making before the meal prep can begin. This is also a great time to ask for help. If you feel comfortable, text your guests with something they can bring along. At this time I also research the easiest and quickest way to make each recipe. If there is a kitchen hack I want it. My goal is to spend the least amount of time in the kitchen as possible. I want to spend the time enjoying the day.
- Shop in stages. I used to find it so overwhelming to do the big grocery shop before a holiday. Overfilled carts, ALWAYS forgetting something, and just exhausted from a trip of ingredients I am not used to buying on the regular. So I started to split it up. During my regular weekly trip to the store about a week or so out from the holiday I would add all my non perishable items to that shopping trip. Once home I will separate into a tote and just store it in the dining room. I don’t add it to the pantry or cabinets so it doesn’t get used or opened by others in my family. Closer to the holiday (a few days out, when the stores are a bit more crazy) I will then pick up perishables, any forgotten items, and last minute needs.
- Cleaning the house. Honestly with this one, I have to admit that sometimes admitting you can’t do it all and outsourcing is the way to go. Having a cleaning company come in to help with the house before a holiday is a simple way I can keep my sanity and save time. It’s a treat that ALWAYS makes me feel calmer and just takes that one overwhelming tasks off my plate. So you may love cleaning but decide to order in your meal, or use a bakery for desserts…. whatever it is, take a shortcut where you need it!
- Meal prep in advance. I try to do any meal prep I can in advance, from desserts to sides I can make and just reheat. My husband always had the tradition of putting the kids to bed the night before Thanksgiving and then spending time in the kitchen together, making side dishes, chopping veggies, assembling appetizers, setting out serving dishes. It was like a mini date night, and a holiday tradition we cherish.
- Decor Prep. I try to not overdo it with decor. I love my holiday dishes. they add a touch of the season without having to add much else. I don’t do elaborate table decor. I try to keep it simple. I make sure the few days before that the table is ready to be set, and I have everything needed. I let the kids help set the table, and one of my favorite things is to have the kids help with the decor on the table. Usually it’s place cards that are so cute.
- The day of… a few things…. I always take the morning to relax with a hot cup of tea and some quiet time before the hustle and bustle of the day. I then get completely ready for the day. I dress casual. I want to be comfortable over fashionable. I ALWAYS prioritize the family memories over the tasks of prepping a meal. DO NOT miss out on family moments because you are in the kitchen making a meal. It isn’t worth it. This is something that especially during Christmas took me A LONG TIME to realize, but am so glad that I have. Lastly, take help when offered, whether it’s bringing something to contribute to the meal or helping with clean up always accept!
I hope that these tips help you when organizing and hosting your Thanksgiving or Holiday Meals!