There is a beauty in the simplicity of Thanksgiving. Unlike other holidays bogged down by controversy, unattainable expectations, or high costs, Thanksgiving revolves around the simple act of sitting down with your loved ones, sharing a meal, and being thankful. It is modest, comforting, and effortless…
Until you find out that you’re the one hosting it this year.
Suddenly, you feel like your house is too shabby, your kitchen is too small, and your cooking skills are nonexistent. But never fear, young host or hostess. With hard work and a leg up on how to make a game plan for your first Thanksgiving, you too can create holiday memories everyone will be thankful for.
Start Early. No, Earlier.
Even if you’re having a small Thanksgiving, you should always give yourself more time to prepare than you expect you’ll need, especially if it’s your first time. After all, things take longer when you’ve never done them before, and running out of time can lead to entire courses going finished. If you think it’s too early to start planning, start anyway.
Confirm the Guest List
Thanksgiving is about togetherness, so almost every aspect of your plan will depend on who’s coming to your table. Your guest list will determine how much food you buy and which recipes you use.
For example, if Aunt Cynthia is bringing your nephew, who has a life-threatening dairy allergy, you may need to offer some mashed potatoes that aren’t loaded with butter. Start sending out invites early, and be sure to follow up on their RSVPs to confirm any noteworthy health conditions.
Build Your Menu
Once you know who’s eating, you can decide on what you’re serving. Don’t stress about trying to reinvent the wheel here—Thanksgiving is about tradition, not experimentation. So look for the tried-and-true classics, such as:
- Mashed potatoes
- Macaroni and cheese
- Green bean casserole
- Dinner rolls
Keep in mind that everyone and their grandmother will be looking for a turkey, so you will want to order it as early as possible. As far as size goes, angle for getting three-quarters of a pound per person. So if you’re expecting 14 people for dinner, get a 10-pound bird.
Stressed about being able to make enough food for everyone? Try a pot-luck Thanksgiving where everyone brings a side. You should also consider making some dishes days in advance to defrost them the day of; it’ll save time and oven space.
Take a Home Inventory
Your home is as important as your spread, so be sure to pencil in some home preparation time when you’re making a game plan for your first Thanksgiving. A few things you should ask yourself are:
- Do I have enough silverware?
- Do I have serving plates and spoons?
- Do I need more soap and towels for the bathroom?
- Do I have space for people to park?
If people are staying over, you should also check out the rest of your house. Fixing up the bedrooms and giving your bathrooms a refresh will help ensure everyone’s comfortable.