Some people are natural hosts: creating elaborate menus, costume requirements, entertainment, and all kids of reverie for any special occasion. (You know, the "balancing every spinning plate they have" kind of folks.) Others like the idea of opening their home up to their friends and families for the holidays but find the tasks to be rather daunting! Are you hosting Thanksgiving for the first time and you don't know where to even begin? Don’t you wish someone would create a guide for you? We’ve got your back! Here are the best tips for hosting Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, holiday dinner parties, and whatever else you’re excited to celebrate in the future!
1. Clean out your fridge the week of. You’re going to need the room!
2. Be conscious of your packaging while shopping. Bring your reusable shopping bags with you to the store. Recycle all the paper, plastic, and glass containers that you can!
3. Incorporate more plant based foods. Chloe Coscarelli, award-winning vegan chef, advises that you do quick ingredient swaps to make traditional holiday dishes more plant-based. For instance, swap chicken broth for vegetable broth in a soup base, top your sweet potatoes with vegan marshmallows instead of regular gelatin-filled marshmallows, trade butter for olive oil in your veggies or use coconut milk instead of regular milk in your mashed potatoes! Easy peasy!
4. Shop locally grown food. Even in colder, northern climates, farmers markets are still selling locally grown greens, potatoes, apples, pears, spices, breads, and cheeses. You’ll find lots of good recipes for salads, side dishes and vegetarian entrees here, as well as farm-raised turkeys, if you’re looking to incorporate the traditional entrée!
5. Avoid food waste by keeping your meal simple. Is it possible to cut back on one or two of your side dishes? What items will save well for leftovers?
6. Cook any dishes you can ahead of time! See which dishes might be able to be refrigerated and make those the day before or early in the morning.
7. Chop veggies early on. You can store chopped veggies in silicon baggies in the fridge to keep the day-of seamless and efficient.
8. Make your turkey plans. If you do opt for a turkey and want to go organic, you may need to order it a couple of weeks beforehand! If you buy a frozen turkey, they take a day to thaw in the fridge for every 4 pounds of turkey. If you plan to brine your turkey, you will want to start that the day before.
Set the Scene
9. Delegate. Don't be afraid to either ask guests to bring specific dishes, or have them help in the kitchen once they arrive! Making the meal as a team can be a lovely bonding experience and helps everything go quickly.
10. Let nature serve as your decor! Don’t pumpkins, leaves, pinecones and branches all make adorable Thanksgiving decorations? They will all also be biodegradable and easy to dispose of once the merriment has concluded.
11. Avoid disposable tableware. This shouldn’t be too much of a challenge this year with most families opting for smaller Thanksgiving dinners. Celebrate the family you might not be able to be with this year by pulling out the china and serving dishes loved by generations past. If you are packaging leftovers, reuse plastic Tupperware or recycled glass jars instead of the throw away alternatives.
12. Keep a sink full of hot soapy water. Whenever you finish using a dish or utensil, you can toss it into the sink so it soaks while you work! Once you have a moment of downtime, wash a handful of items so you don't have a big mess piled up at the end of the night! Start the dishwasher as soon as it is full, adding a Dropps Dishwasher Detergent Pod for quick and mess free clean!
13. Tent the turkey! When the turkey is done, you can tent it with foil to keep it warm while you wait for everything else to finish cooking.
14. Keep the kids busy. Find a place for a little craft station to keep little hands busy while you work! Check out this list of craft ideas to choose from.
Enjoy the Evening, and the Cleanup!
16. Let go of perfection. Just like with any major party or event, something is bound to go array! Don’t fret. Remember that the most important thing is being with the ones you love. If you have to nix a dish here or there, or get out another plate because on broke, it won’t be the end of the world. Everyone will remember being together and having a great time!
17. Enlist help washing up! Let your loved ones help you out by having someone wash dishes while someone else rinses, dries, or puts things in the dishwasher. Turn on some fun tunes and dance a little to keep it light and fun!
18. Recycle and compost. If you do end up using disposable dishes, keep a bin handy for glass, plastic and paper trash you can recycle. Make soup from vegetable peelings, leftover meat and bones. Picked-over vegetables can be composted!
19. Get creative with your leftovers! Find some recipes to rework the dishes you may have extra of. When in doubt, the turkey and cranberry sandwich on leftover dinner rolls ALWAYS hits the spot.
Even with all these tips, nothing beats the lessons we learn just from experience. Do you have some hosting hacks of your own you’ve discovered? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!