Now that you’ve moved into a bigger home you’ve been saddled with the responsibility of hosting Thanksgiving for your family and in laws. Thanksgiving dinners come in all shapes and sizes, so we just want to help you get started with a few Thanksgiving entertaining ideas.
- Cherish traditions. While you won’t be able to include all of your family’s traditions, especially if you’re hosting both your family and your spouse’s for dinner, try to include some of the favorites. Pick a few favorites and serve them while incorporating some new things to the menu.
- Potluck it. Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to encourage people who want to bring their own dish to share. Is your mother particularly proud of her pie while your brother’s fiancé wants to try her hand at pumpkin pie? Encourage them to bring enough to share with the group. Another great option to request if guests ask what they can bring is the wine or other beverages required for the meal. It’s a great way for them to show off their good taste and introduce others to a new drink.
- Don’t try to prepare all the food the day of Thanksgiving. Spread it out! Many dishes can be prepared ahead of time. Try one dish a day the week before Thanksgiving, or prepare ingredients to make life easier on Thanksgiving day. Don’t forget about crockpots! They’ll be your allies when trying to keep food warm and trying to have everything ready at the same time. Ask your family members to volunteer their crockpots to ease the burden.
- While it may seem like a great idea to pull out all the stops and do a completely homemade Thanksgiving extravaganza for the first Thanksgiving in your new home, don’t forget that other responsibilities don’t vanish during the holidays. The kids still have school and activities, there’s work and chores that need to be attended to, and relatives that need entertaining. Forget about homemade dinner rolls and other simple side dishes and appetizers. Pick these up from your local grocer or specialty store. These items won’t make your dinner any less special and you’ll save some headaches.
- Feed the hungry. At least in our experience, most hosts try to stave off the crowds from entering the kitchen or dining room until the food is ready. Guests risk spoiling their appetite by “picking” at the food being prepared. Especially when young kids are involved, it’s a good idea to prepare (or ask someone to bring) a cheese and crackers spread, a vegetable tray, or other small appetizers to keep hunger at bay and guests out of your hair.
- The (infamous) kid’s table. When kids reach a certain age it becomes a matter of pride to be released from the requirement of sitting at the “kid’s” table. They want to be seen as adults, and separate from their younger siblings, cousins or friends. This creates a problem for parents who probably don’t have the space to sit kids at the “adult” table if they wanted to, and want to preserve adult conversation during dinner. Allow older children to help with the setting of the dinner table or buffet, and think about letting them act as “heads” of the children’s table. They can be the liaison, if needed, between the adults and the children if there’s an issue, and they can help the younger children get something more to drink or eat. This helps your younger guests feel important and valued while keeping them out of your hair.
- Entertaining the kids. While after dinner shouldn’t be an issue, with everyone stuffed and sleepy from all the food they’ve consumed, it’s a good idea to have simple activities provided for the kids before hand. Print out coloring sheets and have them write notes about what they’re thankful for as dinner is being prepared. These activities don’t take much time to prepare and they can make a world of difference for both the kids and the adults trying to get things ready in time for dinner. The kids can share their artwork and notes once everyone is settled at the table to eat.
- Be thankful. Remember, as much as having guest over to your house for the holidays can seem like a hassle, these people care about you and enjoy being in your life. The holidays are stressful, and people can seem to be at their worst, but remember to take the time to be thankful for all the good things and people that are in your life.
IKO Community Management wishes you the best of luck in preparing for your Thanksgiving celebrations. If you need more tips and ideas, check out our Pinterest board for inspiration! Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at IKO!