What is Thanksgiving if not a perfect time to get together with your family and friends to enjoy some sweet delicacies? If you’ve grown in a large family you’re probably accustomed to having a lot of people around your dinner table and your mother cooking the whole week before Thanksgiving to accommodate everybody’s wishes. And that was so nice! If now’s your turn to play host, the only difference being that you’re a little tight on space, here are a few tips to get you through the holiday feast in style.
Prepare the guest list. The number of guests, preferably no more than ten if you’re living in a city apartment, will dictate the seating options, the type and quantity of food and the drinks that will make up the menu. Consider the age and dietary preferences of your guests; if there’s a vegan among them you might want to add a vegetarian dish to your Thanksgiving menu.
Do ahead. Pulling off a successful holiday dinner is hard enough even without the space issue. That’s why planning is crucial. Do as many chores as you can the week before the big event (cleaning, shopping, decorating) and plan a mostly make ahead menu with few items that need last minute touches so that you can actually enjoy your own dinner party. If there’s not enough freezer space for all the goodies, no oven space for the turkey or no counter space for the stuffing, leave the cooking to the pros and order a Thanksgiving meal to go. There’s a whole host of local gourmet shops ready to do the work for you, whether you want to pick up dessert, a few sides, a roasted bird, or the feast altogether.
Delegate cooking chores. If you’re not a fan of holiday takeout but still don’t have the time or the culinary skills to do it all, you can ask your guests to contribute. Having each guest bring just one dish can make a huge difference; it will go easy on your pocket, and keep your sanity intact. But the cleanup and leftovers issue are still on you. Bummer!
Presentation is everything. Want to impress a picky mother-in-law? Throw in your best china, bring in some nice holiday décor like themed napkins, glittering candles, beautiful flower arrangements or other decorations you can do yourself.
Guests are the real stars of the evening, not your food. Trying to impress may sometimes translate into burnt birds and delayed dinners, especially for beginner hosts like us, so better keep it simple. I do a turkey breast, potato casserole and mushroom gravy, a hearty side salad, cranberry sauce and a pumpkin pie. If your dining room is not big enough for a large party, you could serve Thanksgiving dinner buffet style.
And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun and be thankful for everything and everyone you have in your life!