Keep Thanksgiving entertaining frazzle-free by planning ahead with these simple hostess tips.
1. Make lists
Plan your menu well in advance and create a shopping list that you’ll tackle 3 to 4 days before the big day. In addition to recipe ingredients and drinks, remember to include paper items, such as toilet paper, napkins, and paper towels. And don’t forget the ice!
Eating Well recommends the following rules of thumb:
1 guest = 4 cocktail napkins + 1 pound of ice (for icing drinks and serving)
Cheat Sheet = Expect one alcoholic beverage per guest per hour.
12 guests = 6 bottles of wine + 1 or 2 cases of beer + 6 liters of water (still or sparkling)
2. Create a signature drink
Rather than stocking a full bar to make sure there’s something for everyone, mix up a signature cocktail to serve your guests and offer a few other staples such as wine and beer on the side.
Try Rachael Ray’s festive Ginger Snap, which calls for vodka, ginger liqueur and cinnamon, or try a Cider Punch that can be prepared with brandy or bourbon. Make this drink in quantity large enough for the group, and have plenty of backup ingredients on hand. This way, you can focus on refilling the pitcher a few times, rather than playing bartender all evening long.
3. Do your food prep the day before
The less you have to do on Turkey Day, the better, since you’ll want to socialize with your guests rather than be stuck slaving over a hot stove the whole time.
Prep what you can in advance: wash and chop veggies, make salad dressings, and prepare any dishes that can be made in advance. Stews, soups, and baked goods are all good items to prepare a day or two ahead!
4. Decide on your outfit a week in advance
To avoid a fashion meltdown on game day, decide what you’re going to wear well in advance. Keep in mind you’ll be on your feet as you tend to your guests, so opt for comfortable footwear. Avoid long necklaces that might get in your way, and create a look around the warm colors of the season.
5. Provide some tunes
Customize a playlist that incorporates some of the season’s most festive music, along with crowd favorites. Set it to play before guests arrive, and make sure it’s set to loop for a constant stream of background music.
Remember to keep the volume low enough so that guests don’t have to raise their voices. As an added bonus, the soft music will help keep you relaxed as you add finishing touches to your holiday spread.