Thanksgiving is the one holiday that’s really just about friends and family gathering together to spend quality time… while eating good food and maybe catching some of the game. Still, it can be a stressful day… week… month even for the person in charge of hosting. We believe the cook shouldn’t be stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is having all of the fun (and that sometimes it’s okay to say you don’t even want to be the cook).
Here are nine things you can do take the stress out of Thanksgiving this year.
Hire a Personal Chef
Sure you could spend the entire week buying groceries and cooking (casseroles, pies, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables, gravy, cranberry sauce, oh and did we mention the turkey?), OR you could hire someone who will come in and do it all for you. (And clean up after.) You might be thinking your family will feel let down, but in reality, they’ll just be happy you’re not slaving away in the kitchen and that they actually get to hang out with you.
Hire a Caterer
If you don’t want a chef to come in and take over, finding a caterer who can handle all, or just some, of the dishes is a great alternative. This way, you’re still in charge in the kitchen, you can cook your favorite dishes, but you can assign out some of the sides dishes (or even the turkey) to a capable professional who is there just to make your life easier.
Make It a Potluck
Just because you’re hosting Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you should get stuck with all of the work (and costs!). Once you’ve got a headcount, reach out to guests and assign dishes based on what you need and what they want to make. If you have a guest who is terrible in the kitchen, ask her to bring wine or a crudité platter. Think of it as a way to let all of your guests show off a little (and make your life a whole lot easier in the process).
Bring in a Bartender
If you’re going to have a lot of guests, it might be nice to have an extra hand to make drinks (and also help with serving). If you don’t want to hire someone, set up an area for self-service drinks with wine, beer, and soft drinks, so that you don’t have people popping in and out of the kitchen while you’re trying to get everything in and out of the oven.
Let Kids (and Everyone) Help
Kids will love helping to set and decorate the table and are also great at doing dishes. Same goes for adults if there aren’t any kiddos handy. Basically: if someone offers to help, say yes.
Borrow What You Don’t Have
That includes chairs, pots, pans, dishes, a meat thermometer, whatever. There’s no need to go out and buy all of this stuff, since you’ll only use most of it once a year. Just make sure you have everything you’ll need (including a roasting pan for the turkey) a few days ahead of time since people tend to scramble right before the actual day.
Make a Plan
Even if you’re bringing someone in to cook all of the food, you’ll still feel a lot less stressed if you have a plan. That includes knowing who’s coming (and any food restrictions they may have), what your décor will be, any materials you’ll need (like extra chairs, tablecloths, barware, etc.), cleaning out the fridge (a must before Thanksgiving), and buying anything you’ll need from the store like wine, candles, soda etc. If you are cooking the dinner, you’ll want to write out a timeline that includes when you’re shopping for what and when you’re going to make it. A little prep can save a lot of headache.
Go to Someone Else’s House
It’s the easiest way to celebrate the holiday in a traditional manner without all of the prep work. Just be sure to bring your dish in a serving container that will look good on the buffet, help clean up after dinner, and don’t be too sad if you leave without any leftovers.
Go on Vacation
Do they celebrate Thanksgiving in Mexico? No. Will you care when you’re lounging on the beach drinking margaritas? Absolutely not. Thumbtack can even help you find a pet sitter since Moose will likely need to stay at home. (He doesn’t like tacos anyway.)