Are you hosting the family Thanksgiving dinner? Here are a few tips on how to get through it.
I’ve hosted many family gatherings, and I like it. However, I know it can be stressful, especially if there’s a big crowd coming over. And while preparing a wonderful dinner for everyone is what we all want, let’s not forget about ourselves. Let’s all stay sane, ok? Here are a few tips.
1. You don't have to invite EVERYONE.
Listen, the whole family getting together sounds nice, but if you’re the one doing all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, and decorating, a big crowd might be too overwhelming. So, I say keep the list short. Only invite close family and enjoy the dinner in a calm, loving environment.
Personally, I’m done inviting all those people who make nasty comments and ruin everyone’s evening. I’m more than OK to see them at a restaurant, or at someone’s else place, where I can leave when I’ve had enough of their toxicity, but when I’m hosting, I’d just rather have people who really love me, who won’t judge the way I’ve decorated my house, or how the dessert could’ve been better. I stopped inviting my toxic relatives to holiday dinners years ago, and my life got a lot better.
2. Ask for help.
You don’t have to do it all by yourself. I know you can do it, but by the time you’re done, you’ll be exhausted. So, if you’re going to host the Thanksgiving dinner, ask the others for help. If you’re cooking, ask your spouse to do the shopping. If your guests ask if they can help, tell them to bring the dessert, so you don’t have to make that as well. If you need help, ask for it.
3. You don't have to make everything yourself.
My friends, we live in a wonderful era. We’ve got dishwashers, smart cookers, and the great internet where you can find everything. You can order some of the food, and you can hire wonderful people to help you with cleaning, shopping, or decorating. You don’t have to do it all and be exhausted by the time your guests arrive. Order what you can online, and enjoy your family!
4. Don't make/get too much food.
When you’re making the menu, try to be realistic. How many courses can a person eat in one day? The answer isn’t five. Don’t make a ton of appetizers, several side dishes, and 10 different desserts. You’ll end up throwing away a lot of food, and that would be such a pity. Ask your guests what they prefer and only make food for the number of people coming over, not the whole neighborhood.
5. Don't try to control everything.
Things might go wrong, so expect that. People might be late. You can set a time after consulting everyone, or just expect them to make it when they make it. Someone might forget to bring the dessert, while someone else might bring an extra guest without consulting you. Try not to get upset, control only what you can, and enjoy the beautiful day.
6. Don't set high expectations.
If you’re going to imagine this perfect family dinner and get caught up in your vision, you’re going to be disappointed. So, just wait and see how it goes.
7. Don't be too harsh on yourself.
Listen, unless you’re some kind of famous professional chef, you might put too much salt into the food, or overcook the turkey a little bit. It’s ok. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. After all, it’s all about family being together, not eating the perfectly cooked bird.
8. Don't plan every hour of the gathering.
Don’t plan too many activities for the evening, because people might not be in the mood. After not seeing each other for months, your guests may just want to chat and catch up. So make sure the environment is set for exactly that. And if someone will want to look into the family photo album, you’ll know where to get it.
9. Take time to enjoy your guests.
Forget about serving the next course for a few minutes, and just enjoy a nice chat with your guests. What I hate the most about hosting is that after everyone leaves, I realize I didn’t talk to my family almost at all, being busy with serving and cleaning up. So, make sure you take the time to enjoy everyone.
10. Don't worry too much.
There are many things that can ruin your dinner, and some of them will probably happen. Grandpa George will probably drink too much and make inappropriate comments. Uncle Jack will probably bring up politics after a couple of drinks. And Aunt Edna will definitely ask everyone at the table when they’re getting married, having a kid, having another kid, getting a better job, and many other uncomfortable questions. If you don’t want them ruining your dinner, see number 1. However, if you decide you can’t have Thanksgiving without them, be aware that they will say and do everything you expect them to. And even if it’s hard, just don’t worry about it. Let them do their thing, gracefully interrupt them with “You know what I’m grateful about?”, and just change the subject.