New House, New Host: A Fool-Proof Guide for First-Time Entertainers
It’s becoming apparent in every store display, TV commercial and radio ad that the holidays are fast approaching. Whether you’ve just purchased your first house or it’s simply time to stop going to your Aunt Pam’s every year, the first big gathering is right around the corner… Thanksgiving. Now is your chance to take the reins and host at your place. As exciting as it is, this of course can be overwhelming so we’ve put together a fool-proof guide to ensure it all goes smoothly.
Solidify a Plan
Establish Your Guestlist
Start by nailing down who will be in attendance. Establishing who is planning to come to the holiday will help you determine what area(s) of your home will be best suited for the event, how your space needs to be set up and most importantly… How many mouths you will need to feed. This is also a key time to double-check if you have anyone with dietary restrictions attending. You don’t want to find out the day of that your cousin can’t eat like, anything you’ve worked so hard to prepare.
Create a formal invitation, whether tangibly distributed in the mail or digitally sent out via email or text message. Be clear about the time you expect guests to arrive and ask that they RSVP. Be sure you communicate with your guests on whether or not you have room to accommodate them overnight. People may travel far distances, and it’s important everyone is on the same page.
Make a Menu
Ah the main attraction, the menu. The holidays are a key time where food tends to be in abundance… But don’t let that fool you. Your lineup doesn’t need to be complicated. Start with the main, we recommend having two. Build off that with three to four side dishes. We recommend heavily considering casserole-style dishes; these tend to be simple and also easily feed a crowd. Last but certainly not least, establish some dessert options. Two to three options should satisfy your crowd’s sweet tooth with no problem. Oh and, don’t forget to stock up on some alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Think punch, cider and wine. If you’re feeling calm, cool and collected still – consider adding in a simple appetizer to the mix. Set out a charcuterie board or easy snacks like a vegetable or fruit tray. This will keep your guests occupied and out of your hair while you prep dinner.
Buy Your Groceries
Go through every recipe with a fine-toothed comb. Take inventory of all the ingredients you will need to purchase and make your grocery list. Head to the store a week or so ahead to give yourself plenty of time to go back to the store when you inevitably forget something. If you’re opting for turkey, make sure you purchase the right size bird. Think about 1 ¼ pounds to 1 ½ pounds of turkey per guest… If your crowd is especially large you might want to opt for two smaller birds rather than one monstrous bird. Don’t hit defrost just yet; keep the turkey in the freezer until a few days prior. Allow a full day for every 4 pounds of turkey being thawed.
Make What You Can Ahead of Time
Remember when you went through each recipe very carefully? Do it again and seek out what aspects of your menu can be prepped a day or so ahead of time. The more time you spend cooking and baking before the big day, the more time you have the day of to spend with your family. This also takes a big bulk of stress out of the day.
Accept Help & Outsource
Don’t forget it’s okay to count on others. Call on your guests to bring any part of the meal that really stresses you out, or that you know they are especially good at making. Uncle Fred makes an outstanding Green Bean Casserole… Why complicate things? Ask him to bring that! It is also okay to buy certain items. No one is going to know if you made the pie, ok?
Create a Timeline
Nothing screams “the holidays” like a chaotic frenzy to get everything done on time, right? It doesn’t need to be that way though. A day or so ahead of time, map out when each thing needs to happen. Count backwards from the time dinner will be served while considering prep and cook time. It may also be helpful to pre-set alarms for hard deadlines, like when the turkey needs to go in the oven.
Set the Table
Leading up to the holiday, pull out all your serving dishes and flatware, glassware, napkins, utensils and anything else you will use to cook or serve dinner. This will allow you to get a good visual for what you have, what you are lacking and what needs to be shined up or cleaned altogether. Keep your decor simple but effective. The table will become crowded in a hurry as the food and drink enters the space. To keep things organized, map out where you plan to put each item and, each person. Using place cards will help keep the chaos to a minimum which is always a win.
Clean the Kitchen & Fridge
Lastly, the not so obvious… Make sure your kitchen and refrigerator are clean and have ample room to store prepped food and any leftovers you may end up with. We recommend asking your guests to bring food storage containers to take some leftovers home with them or have some stocked up yourself that you don’t mind parting with. Trust us, you are never going to see that tupperware again once it leaves your home. Whatever route you decide to take, don’t let storage and organization be an afterthought.
We hope this guide has helped you to embrace homeownership and the perks that come with it. We are positive that you are most definitely destined to be the “hostess with the mostess”. For all your homeownership needs, you can count on your team at Cambria Mortgage: 952-942-0110 / www.CambriaMortgage.com.
Durand, F. (2019, May 2). 12 essentials to know when hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. Kitchn. Retrieved October 26, 2021, from https://www.thekitchn.com/12-essentials-to-know-before-hosting-thanksgiving-for-the-first-time-reader-intelligence-report-212661.
Hammonds, K. (2021, July 2). How to host Thanksgiving for the first time. Southern Living. Retrieved October 26, 2021, from https://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/hosting-thanksgiving.
Mickel, B. (n.d.). The Ultimate Guide to Hosting Your First thanksgiving dinner. Martha Stewart. Retrieved October 26, 2021, from https://www.marthastewart.com/7908949/first-thanksgiving-dinner-tips.