Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not surprisingly because it is all about sitting down with your loved ones to enjoy some food. And by “some food” I really mean “All the food. In my belly. Right now.” The thing is, hand-in-hand with this abundance comes a pile dishes to juggle, oven space and timelines and temperatures to consider. That’s not even counting all the hosting responsibilities and dish-washing duties for what can sometimes be a large crowd. For me, these things can understandably lead to stress.
With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips for minimizing your holiday stress.
1. Don’t cook the turkey yourself. This might be a little blasphemous for some of you, but the turkey is the most intimidating and time-consuming thing to me, not to mention it’s an oven hog! Consider ordering a cooked turkey from a company like Honey Baked Ham, and heating it up on Thanksgiving. The turkey is supposed to be crowning glory of the table, and by ordering it, you know it will taste good. Plus, ordering the bird frees you up to focus on side dishes and desserts, which can be a lot of fun. Check out some of my recent recipes, like an Apple Galette or some Paleo Pumpkin Muffins, to name a few.
2. If you’re having a small group, consider roasting Cornish Game Hens. Again, this may be crazy for Thanksgiving purists. But when my husband and I were pre-baby, we often had small Thanksgiving dinners. A large turkey was just too much food for the two of us, so I roasted Cornish Game Hens to enjoy. They were delicious, full of the flavor of the season, but small enough that we didn’t waste any food.
3. Assign friends and family a side dish. You can either assign categories or specific dishes. You don’t want three sweet potato dishes showing up at the same time, so specifics are important. Chances are, your guests will have foods that they love and want to share, so give them a chance and take some of the burden off of yourself.
4. Consider party rentals. When I grew up, my family had multiple sets of china that we would pull out every holiday season. The china looked beautiful but you know what? It was a lot of dishes to wash, even in my house with two dishwashers (true story). Rental companies may allow you to rent dishes for a low cost, and then return them dirty. Yes, please!
5. Shop in advance and cook a little each day. The great news about most Thanksgiving foods is that you can make many of them in advance. Give yourself plenty of time and do your shopping in the days leading up to the holiday. When you get your groceries home, you can start to prep them (peeling, slicing, etc.) Then, cook a dish or two each day so you’re not trying to put everything in the oven at the same time.
6. Remember what the holiday is about. At the end of the day, if your famous pumpkin chiffon cheesecake flops or your turkey is still frozen at dinner time, shrug it off. The day is about being thankful for what you do have. Enjoy the company of your family and friends and soak up the moments. At the very least, you’ll have some good stories to tell.
Do you have any other good tips to share?