Getting together to spend Thanksgiving with loved ones is a beloved tradition for many of us, but when you’re the host, it can feel like one huge checklist. The amount of shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning it takes can feel overwhelming, and that can keep you from enjoying the gathering.
Want to ease some of that hosting stress? Give yourself permission to stop caring about a few things. No, really. Take these things off your to do list, so you can actually relax and savor what’s on your plate, along with your friends and family.
- Bringing a beautiful whole turkey to the table - Forget the image of a perfect Norman Rockwell holiday dinner and don’t carry the whole bird out for everyone to see before it’s carved. No one will notice any imperfections once it’s cut up and on the plate, so don’t worry about how it looks and just slice and serve.
- Timing your meal down to the minute - Getting all that food hot and ready at the same time is hard enough, but when you expect to eat at a specific time, too? It can be too much pressure and you don’t need it. Have plenty of drinks and appetizers around so guests won’t gripe about being hungry and they’ll be fine.
- Setting a pretty table - If your table doesn’t look like Martha Stewart designed and set it, who cares? People are there for the food, so if you just set out a stack of plates and let them come through the kitchen buffet-style, that’s good enough.
- Pairing drinks with dishes - Let people drink whatever they want and enjoy it. Don’t spend a fortune on wine, just go for affordable and tasty. The food’s the star of the day, anyway.
- Making everything from scratch - Focus on what’s most important to you and make that. Everything else, from turkey to pies, can be store-bought, semi-homemade or outsourced from a restaurant.
- Making everyone’s favorite dish - Everyone has a traditional Thanksgiving favorite, but trying to make them all is more stress than you need. Let people know ahead of time if they won’t be seeing a certain food they’re hoping for, or suggest they make it themselves.
- Going it alone - Speaking of enlisting help, let your friends and family pitch in for dinner. This can mean having a potluck-style meal, or just getting guests to do tasks like bring ice, take coats, or collect containers to send leftovers home. People really want to help, so let them.