Painting ©Norman Rockwell, 1943
Whether you’re planning Thanksgiving dinner for your immediate family, or for a larger gathering of extended family and friends, formulating a plan of action beforehand will help you to relax and enjoy the special occasion, rather than it becoming a source of stress.
P.S. Creating “a plan” may sound formal and boring, but effective dinner party planning doesn’t have to include spreadsheets and timelines. A simple pad and paper is all it takes to create a plan of action that will help you seamless execute a wonderful holiday dinner celebration – one that’s just as enjoyable for you, as well as your family and friends!
5 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Dinner Celebrations
1. Keep It Simple! From meal planning to decorations, keeping it simple takes a lot of stress out of the equation. Unless you’ve planned ahead (both budget and time wise), it’s best to opt for a simple, but elegant centerpiece and simple table settings.
And the same olds true for menu planning, stick with a simple menu that you’re comfortable preparing. (In other words, now is not the time to experiment with a complicated new recipe.)
Even as an accomplished home chef, I don’t get too adventurous when it comes to holiday dinners – check out my simple, tried-n-true Thanksgiving Day Menu and you’ll see what I mean. Remember, the true joy of the holiday is to enjoy fellowship with your family and friends – and that can be hard to do if you become overwhelmed in the process.
2. Create a Schedule! Once you’ve decided on the menu, review the recipes and time required to prepare each. Then, make a schedule outlining each task that needs to get done in order to have the meal come together on time and smoothly.
Your schedule can include things like the day you need to begin defrosting the turkey, and what time you’ll need to place it in the oven, as well as scheduling a prep day(s) as outlined below. (P.S. Don’t forget to plan ahead for a simple breakfast and lunch on the day of your dinner party, so you can reserve your time and energy for preparing for the dinner. Leftovers are a perfect, stress-free alternative.)
3. Prep Ahead! Trying to get everything done on the big day with family eager to eat, and guests knocking at your door, is a recipe for serious stress! Instead, pace yourself. Think about what you can prepare in advance and add these tasks to your schedule.
Ideas for prepping ahead include: Making pies or desserts a day or two beforehand, precutting veggies for stuffing or other recipes, preparing side dishes a day ahead so they’re ready to go right into the oven, etc.
Having a stress-free dinner party is truly so much easier when you create a game plan and prep ahead, so you have as little to do on the big day as possible.
4. Early to Bed, Early to Rise! Don’t underestimate the value of getting a good night’s sleep before the big day! This will give your mind and body the rest they need to tackle the day ahead with a positive attitude and energy level.
Then, get up early, so you have time to enjoy a relaxing cup of tea or coffee, and pray and meditate on God’s will for you to be a good host. Then review your game plan for the day and get started!
5. Ask for Help! Plan to get your family and guests involved. In fact, most people want to help, rather than just standing around while you attempt to do everything yourself.
Simple tasks that you can have people help you with include: greeting guests at the door, offering guests a beverage or appetizer, and helping to place food into serving dishes and place onto the table.
My hope is that the tips above will help you to host a wonderful holiday dinner celebration that centers on enjoying an amazing time of fellowship and fun with your family and friends! Wishing you and yours a very blessed and stress-free holiday season!
Happy Thanksgiving, Kelly