Take some shortcuts this Thanksgiving, so you can spend more time enjoying the holiday with your your guests. Not spending the entire week leading up to Thanksgiving and all of the holiday doing something can be hard, especially when it's the first time you've hosted. Use these shortcuts I've learned over the years. Take some tips from entertaining experts to lessen the work load. It's okay to cut corners, so you can enjoy the day alongside your family and friends.
Family affair - Involve other family members in all aspects of the Thanksgiving holiday. Lisa Reynolds, Mom Saver-in-Chief for Red Plum says, "Make the Thanksgiving meal truly a family gathering and surround yourself with loved ones, so you're part of the conversation (not stuck in the kitchen), and you continue to get work done." She also recommends enlisting "the help of family and friends to 'serve' hors d'oeuvres before dinner."
Say "yes" to ready-to-use ingredients- You don't have to make everything from scratch. Unless you have a favorite family recipe or are making a pie crust for guests with special dietary needs, skip the homemade dough. Refrigerated pie crust is great in a pinch. It also freezes well, so if you don't use it at Thanksgiving, freeze it for winter holidays. Your pie will still have a homemade feel and taste when you add your own pumpkin or apple mixture and bake.
Other ingredients to have on hand:
* Canned gravy
* Bake and serve rolls
* Frozen cream pies - These don't take long to thaw, and if you have extra guests, there will be enough dessert for everyone.
Easy does it - Stick to a simple Thanksgiving menu. The turkey itself does not need babysitting; the oven does the work for you. Katie Jordan of Flourish Events in Greenville, S.C. says, "Try not to create a menu that is so extensive or complicated that you spend the entire time in the kitchen. Same goes for your attire. If hosting, wear something stylish yet functional for walking, lifting, clearing, and cleaning. "
Do as much as you can before guests arrive - Preparing vegetables and washing and drying serving dishes the night or morning before also helps. Wayfair.com's Style Director, Kristine Kennedy, agrees. She says, "Do as much ahead as possible, so you aren't stuck in the kitchen, and away from guests, for the first hour they are there."
"Take a tip from caterers. Look for everything you can do for Thanksgiving in advance. Pull all bowls and platters the night before or first thing in the morning, wash, or polish them, then use a Post-It to label what will eventually go in each," says Reynolds.
Self-service - You've done all the shopping and cooking, guests can do some of the serving. "Make everything as 'self-serve' as possible, so you can relax and have a good time. A grown-up, bourbon-based punch is a fun idea - it will be a conversation starter, a natural mixer - and guests can help themselves. Sangria is great, too," says award-winning Maitre d' Felix Albano of Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse in New York City.
"Let guests bring a dish. Thanksgiving is a sentimental holiday, and guests will be comforted to eat something they're familiar with," says Kennedy.
Make the second half of the traditional Thanksgiving easier by getting a jump on the dessert table. "Consider placing all the desserts in another room in your home on a separate table. That way, people can help themselves after they've let their turkey digest," Reynolds says.
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