Total Time: Probably All Day
Yield: For all your favorite family members.
Prep: Don’t invest too much time in this; your house will end up looking like a mess as soon as the first guest arrives.
Inactive: This time does not exist; you will be active and on your feet most of the day.
Cook: It depends on what you’re making, but please, practice delegating!!
- 2 Cups of Your Favorite Family Members.
Ideally, this would consist of an even split between your family and your partner’s family, but the real world doesn’t work that way. I have also learned a valuable lesson throughout my experiences in hosting; don’t invite anyone you don’t want to be there. Birthday parties, holidays and important life events are not the place to mend old wounds, makeup after a fight or get to know someone. If that person’s presence is of the utmost importance, then reach out to them, before the party. If you find yourself too busy or flat out avoiding contact, then they probably aren’t as important as you want to think they are in this season of your life, or you’re too selfish to make the first move, and that’s a different issue altogether.
- Equal Parts of Food and Drinks
DELEGATE, DELEGATE, DELEGATE! Hosting an event in your house is going to be busy, exhausting and difficult, no matter how small. The unwritten rule that you must cook everything, buy everything and serve everything is unfair and antiquated. I’ve also watched enough Mad Men to know that those women weren’t happy, and didn’t do everything themselves either. So put the days of Leave It To Beaver and A Christmas Story behind you and learn to ask for help. Also, this isn’t a birthday party where everyone is bringing a present; it’s a holiday about gratitude and togetherness. Ask people to bring things! This, for me, since I am a horrible cook, is easy. If my family wants edible food, they have to contribute. Since my mother in law has been hosting Thanksgiving for a handful of decades, she comes over early or sleeps over and preps the turkey, while I make breakfast. I take on the role of sous-chef and help chop and stir. As the turkey cooks, my daughter becomes my helper, and we do the easy dishes. I make the sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. My brother in law is a fantastic cook, so he shows up with the more difficult and traditional dishes, as well as any creative dish he comes up with. My family usually brings appetizers and add-ons, and everyone brings dessert and drinks. At the end of the night, there are usually pounds of food leftover and no one feels like they did all the work. This has worked for us for a long time and is now as much of our tradition as the turkey.
- ¾ Cups of Enough Activities to Keep the Kids Busy
A lot of families enjoy the idea of an extravagant and elaborate meal, where everyone has stimulating conversations and wears their Sunday best. In my family, most of us have small children, so this almost never happens. Instead, we are fortunate enough to have a pool, so the kids and most adults, spend the day jumping in the water and running through the yard. While the adults,(I won’t lie, it’s mostly the women), spend the day gossiping and prepping dinner. This is actually my favorite part of the day. I love hearing my barking dogs and the fun-filled children’s screams, intermingled with splashes and the deep laughter of my husband and father while my mom and aunt talk about my cousins with my mother in law smiling attentively. However, eventually, the sunburn and wet hair become enough of a nuisance, that even the kids want to come inside. This is where I usually bring out something for them to do. We love making apple turkeys, decorating cookies and making cards. Do not underestimate how much trouble a handful of bored kids can cause!
- A Pinch of Photographers
Everyone has camera phones, but in busy events like the holidays, very few of us are actually taking pictures. I want these memories, and I want to be in some of the pictures, which are why I usually talk to my sister about helping me accomplish this task. We both take turns walking around and snapping pictures throughout the day. It sounds tedious and unnecessary, but after not having any pictures of my daughter’s first Thanksgiving and only two of her first Christmas (in both of which she was sleeping), I learned my lesson!
- Do yourself a favor and take a short trip to the dollar store. Invest about $20 in clear bowls, pitchers and serving spoons. If you’re hosting, the dishes will pile quickly on your kitchen counter and you will probably feel less stressed if you know you can toss the majority of them in the garbage or cover them with clingy plastic wrap and send the leftovers home with your family members. In pictures, the clear bowls will look just fine, and you will go to bed with a cleaner kitchen.
- Be sure to clean your bathrooms and kitchen well, however, I don’t suggest spending too much time moving couches and making the house spotless. Once the stampede of kids run through your house and the adults start serving and spilling drinks, you’ll be mentally berating yourself for spending so much time on your hands and knees scrubbing the grout.
- If you were careful to add the right amount of ingredients, then everyone in your home should be getting along and you shouldn’t feel like you must run around and create social buffers, or keep anyone entertained. The food should be pretty much cooked, and you should just be warming the sides family members brought. The children should be joyfully entertained, and you should have plenty of pictures to look back on and enjoy in the days and years to come. This is the time to relax, chat and gain a good 3 pounds before the night is over.
Laugh, eat and have a Happy Thanksgiving