Whether you typically celebrate Thanksgiving at your home or visit family and friends, it’s no secret that hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be a stressful undertaking. Attempting to clean (and maintain) a house with children, prepping food, and worrying about making your guests feel welcomed can easily drive any mom to snatch a whole pie to herself and go find a quiet corner to hide in.
However, Thanksgiving isn’t a time to pretend you have it all together (when you’re losing your mind the other 364 days of the year), and it certainly isn’t a time to go out and buy a bunch of unnecessary items that you won’t touch again until next year. That’s why I’m sharing a few tips on how you can prep ahead, save time and money, and keep your sanity this year!
Of course every recipe has certain elements that can be prepared in advance and those that need to be assembled the day of. However, one thing you can always do ahead of time is plan your tableware and setup. Although we were typically a family that traveled for holidays growing up, whenever we hosted a large event my mom would always have the table planned ahead of time. Each dish would be placed out the night before with a post-it note to label it. Dishes would also be accompanied with serving utensils. That way you aren’t hunting for ‘just the right size’ bowl or an extra ladle while everyone is sitting around hungry.
This also helps for planning adequate space for food if you serve everything family-style. Additionally, if you set everything on the counter and go through buffet style, you can plan ahead what works best for the flow of traffic.
Save Time and Money
I remember when we were just married and hosting Thanksgiving for my parents and my brother at our apartment. I began stressing out because I wanted my table setting to all match… you know, because I was really fooling my parents by throwing a tablecloth over a couple of tables pulled together. Anyway, I vividly remember going to Younkers and checking out the sales in their home department and getting all matching burgundy napkins, napkin rings, and table cloth. I wasted time and money. Okay, I have to be honest. I didn’t ‘waste’ time and money. I ‘spent’ it. Honestly, at the time it was important to me, and that’s totally okay.
However, ten years later, I embrace a more eclectic style. We have multiple styles of dishes in our kitchen. I have our set from our wedding, a fun patterned set from when I went off to college, and a mix-match of round and square plates that we use daily. None of these sets have enough to use individually.
Instead of stressing out about matching sets, I’ve started mixing them all together. Honestly, I think it gives more character. I love the old mixed with new, the fancy mixed with casual, and the mixture of shapes.
The only thing that matches on this table is a set of tiny pumpkin bowls that I purchased 70% off from Michaels (and time spent at Michaels is NEVER wasted).
Keep your Santity
Imagine you’ve finally gotten all the prep work done. The food is hot and ready. You fix your kids’ plates (because they’ve been complaining the longest). Your guests have started filling their plates. It’s finally your turn to eat. But wait… those kids have already decided they’re done. They’ve likely finished their roll and possibly some mashed potatoes. They may have even taken a bite or two of turkey. But alas, they’ve lost interest in dinner altogether at the very moment you were taking your first bite. Sound familiar?
Give yourself a little extra time by rolling out some butcher paper on the kids table. Heck, do it on your main table and keep all your guests entertained. By the end of the night you’ll have more doodles of turkey hands than you’ll know what to do with.
Oh, one last tip….
When people ask ‘how can I help?’, point them to the sink full of dishes. Then sit down and enjoy some pie. You earned it.
Don’t miss the other posts in our Thanksgiving Series: