Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Thanksgiving/Entertaining Tips

With the holidays quickly approaching it seems like the season for hosting and getting together with friends and family is at an all time high. While I don't host Thanksgiving I will be hosting Christmas Eve this year, for the first time, which I'm very excited about! Everyone seems to stress out about these meals and it's completely understandable to do so. But it doesn't have to be a stressful event to host. Here are a few tips I've learned over the years.

*Don't try out new recipes on your guests. Unless they are frequent guests and it's very informal, make the meal ahead of time to get comfortable. Running through the motion of meal prep and cooking times will help you to set your pace for the big event and won't leave you in a ball of nerves hoping everything will be ready at the same time.

*Taste as you go. Even if you've made the dish a million times, taste as you're cooking to make sure guests won't need to pass the salt and pepper shakers around the table before digging in.

*Prep! This consists of many things.
  1. Grocery shop a few days before but grab anything with a short shelf life (like the meat or seafood) the day before. Call ahead and pre-order your protein so there isn't a shortage when you need it. How many times has a store been out of the very item you need when you need it?!
  2. Select dishes that can be made or prepped in advance. This will take some pressure off you the day of to focus on pulling everything together rather than starting from scratch. Do not feel like every component needs to be made from scratch. Take some shortcuts and buy some things pre-made or dishes that just requires assembly. 
  3. Several days in advance pull all of your table settings, platters, serving utensils, glassware, etc. Label the platters with a sticky note to have a clear picture of where everything will go once it's cooked. This also helps to determine if you need anything prior to your party. Are you short a salad plate or wine glass? Do you not have a small ladle for serving gravy? It's always good to know ahead of time rather than scrambling around your kitchen to find a substitute as everyone is sitting down to eat.
  4. Ask for any dietary restrictions when you send out the invitations (or text "invite") if it's with people you don't know very well. It seems like everyone has one these days so knowing in advance can help you to plan for it. Don't go crazy and create a whole new menu to cater to one person's allergy. Most times, you can modify a dish and keep a portion of it separate for that individual. (Example- leave nuts off a salad or serve the sauce on the side if it contains gluten or dairy)
*Delegate and plan accordingly. If someone offers to bring something-take them up on it! Have them help you take something off your plate that otherwise would add too much stress. Maybe it's a side dish or appetizer. Maybe a dessert if you'd rather be specific with the main course menu. Offer them what you are making so they catch on to any theme or fill in any gaps with what you're serving.

*Be casual about it. Have a drink near you while your guests arrive and try to mingle for the first half hour or so before you need to finish dinner. If you're MIA the whole time, it may make guests uneasy and feel like they need to come bombard you in the kitchen to "keep you company".

*Don't stress out. It's just a meal. Nobody expects perfection and likely they will just be appreciative of your graciousness to host! Most importantly, don't lose sight of why you're hosting to begin with. Thanksgiving is all about being thankful and that just means being grateful for time with friends and family!

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