For some newlyweds Thanksgiving may be the first holiday that you've ever hosted, which can be very exciting but also stressful. Cooking the turkey, making the stuffing and still being a cordial hostess can be tougher than your mom made it look. But not to worry, here are some hostess tips to help you survive and make it look easy!
1. Preparation is everything. Have a set timeline for the week. Whatever dishes can be made ahead, like pies and cranberry sauce, should be made as many days in advance as possible. Set up should start a few days out. Rented chairs and tables should be brought in 2-3 days ahead and be sure to set your table, at the latest, the day before. There are always last minute issues that come up, so if you've gotten the big things out of the way you'll be ready to battle anything that comes at you.
2. Decorate! It's festive and makes people happy. Break out the votive candles from your wedding day, get some leftover mini pumpkins that are now on sale at the market and place them down the center of your table. Voila! You have a centerpiece that your guests will admire.
3. Have a fully stocked bar and great wine. Who better to drink the good wine with than your family and closest friends? If your wedding was in the last 6 months you probably have some leftover wine and booze. What a great way to remember your special day with the people that shared it with you. Another idea is to have a signature cocktail for the day, maybe a pumpkin punch or cider martini.
4. Personalize the day and involve your guests. To make your guests feel special, serve dishes they have requested, be sure there is a placecard with each guest's name on the table and have special games or a craft table to keep the kids happy, this will make their parents happy too! Or just let everyone bring their favorite side dish or dessert and give them credit for it. If you know ahead of time what they're bringing you can have printed menus and include their name on it. For example, "Brenda's Bodacious Brussel Sprouts" or "Mouthwatering Mashed Potatoes by The Millers." If you don't know ahead of time what everyone's bringing, have some blank folded cards and a metallic pen handy. As you put out the food, write on the card what each dish is and who made it and place the card in front of the dish.
5. Seating is important. A holiday is not the time to split couples up to get people to mingle. Seat couples and families together. It's also important to have placecards so guests feel comfortable approaching the table. Everyone hates the awkwardness of not knowing who they'll be next to and they will be pleasantly surprised when they're next to their spouse.
6. Keep Calm and Carry On. If you're relaxed and calm, your guests will be too. Sticking to your timeline always helps combat stress, but keeping your guests out of the kitchen is also a good trick. Another tip is to have your husband host and pour drinks while you're finishing up in the kitchen. Or you can even give your guests jobs when they arrive, like filling the water glasses. It will help you and will make your guests feel more a part of the day.
7. Work together. You and your spouse are a team, work together to prep and make the day run smoothly. Ladies, delegate tasks to your husband like putting him in charge of the bar or carving the turkey or setting up the tables and chairs.
8. Combine traditions and create new ones. Make your husband's family recipe that he always had growing up and introduce him to some of your family's secret ingredients. Or you can add one of your family's cultural dishes to the meal. If you're Italian, start with a pasta course, if you're Turkish serve baklava for dessert. Whatever you choose, new traditions have begun!
9. Celebrate each other. Prepare a short toast telling everyone how special they are and how thankful you are to have them in your life. You can also ask everyone to say what they're thankful for once you sit down to dinner. However, if you do this, give your guests a "heads up"; many people don't like to be surprised with public speaking.
10. Wanna make your husband really happy? Let him watch the football game while mingling with guests as they arrive. Not only will he be happy but many of the other guests will be too. This year's game should be a good one. The Lions have a good team and they're playing the undefeated Green Bay Packers.
Most importantly, enjoy the day and be thankful. Take a moment to look around and be grateful for the amazing family and traditions you have begun. You'll be amazed at how fulfilling this will feel!