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10 Tips for Hosting an Amazing Thanksgiving Dinner

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10 Tips for Hosting an Amazing Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and hoards of people will be gathering together with friends and family to celebrate the bounty of the season. Here are a few ways to ensure that your holiday celebration will be a fabulous one; free from stress, fights, and anaphylactic shock.

1. Invite Those Whom You Know Will Get Along

It’s sweet and ambitious to hope that quarrelling relatives will use a time of togetherness as an opportunity to let bygones be bygones, but if a couple of people haven’t spoken to each other for years because they can’t stand one another, your dinner party isn’t going to be the balm that eases all ills. If you’d like a stress-free, pleasant get-together, invite friends and family members who actually like one another and will mingle well. You can see the more ornery ones over the winter holidays.

2. Ask Everyone About Food Allergies, Sensitivities, and Restrictions

Most of us have friends and family members of various ethnic/religious backgrounds, and there are a variety of food restrictions that go along with certain cultures and faiths. Furthermore, whether someone avoids a certain food because of personal ethics, or because it will make them horrifically ill, it’s best to avoid adding any of it to your meal plan. The last thing any host or hostess wants to do is kill anyone with their cooking, so as soon as you receive confirmation that your guests will be attending, ask them about any foods that may be forbidden. The same goes for if kids are attending: some may be solely accustomed to “kid food” and will refuse what’s being served, so ask parents what (if anything) the kidlets will eat, so some of that is available.

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If you find yourself in a situation where your guests have multiple food restrictions between them (vegan, nut allergies, kosher/halal, gluten-free, etc.), you might wish to visit a site such as Epicurious.com for recipe ideas. In the upper left section of the page, you can click on the “advanced search” button, and it’ll allow you to add different criteria to your search. When in doubt whether something is acceptable or not, clear it with your guests first. Alternatively, you can go another route entirely…

3. Make It a Potluck

One way to ensure that everyone can eat something at your party is to make it a potluck. Have every guest bring a favourite dish of theirs, so all attendees have the opportunity to try something new (if they like), or stick to what they know is safe for them. This alleviates stress (as well as workload for the host), and you never know—you may discover a new, fabulous recipe that you’d never encountered before.

4. Don’t Try to Do It All Alone

Many hosts end up stressed out and frustrated because they get so overwhelmed by trying to handle every aspect of the celebration itself that they don’t end up enjoying the actual event. Gather together friends and family members and allot certain tasks to everyone: this way, everything will get done, and you won’t end up sitting on the kitchen floor crying into your wine glass.

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5. Make a Schedule, and Stick to It

Estimate how much time is required to prep + cook each item, so you can schedule when different dishes have to be popped into the oven or heated on the stove top. Salads and side dishes can be prepared ahead of time and then just dressed or heated prior to serving, and you can likely tetris the pans inside your oven to bake (or just heat) numerous dishes at the same time. If necessary, place sticky notes on your appliances so you know that X has to go into the oven at 4 pm, and Y needs chocolate grated on it just before it’s served.

6. Assign Seats

When it comes to seating, it’s important to consider who’s going to sit where; you don’t want all the extroverts at one end of the table, leaving the opposite end all awkward and silent. Try to place the more vivacious people at regular intervals around the dining space, as they’ll engage those around them in conversation. On the other hand, if you know that one of your guests is rather shy and quiet, don’t sit them too close to a chatterbox, as they’ll be tempted to stab themselves with their butter knife twenty minutes into the meal, just for an excuse to flee.

7. Keep Children Occupied

If children are attending, they’ll likely be bored out of their skulls halfway through the evening. If you can set aside a small area for art/crafts, fabulous. If not, you can always usher them into a room with a movie or some video games so they’re not subjected to boring grown up conversations.

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8. Give Away Leftovers

There will undoubtedly be leftovers after the meal, so encourage your guests to bring plastic containers with them so you can foist some on them. If you don’t, you’ll be stuck with zero fridge space, or a bunch of food that you may not want to eat for a week afterwards.

9. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

There’s absolutely no reason why you should feel that you need to do all the cleaning up by yourself, especially if those attending are close friends/family. After you’ve finished eating, ask for a bit of help tidying up, and get another couple of people to help set up for dessert. If you know that one person loves to mix drinks or serve wine, get them on booze duty. Keep your sink full of soapy water and encourage people to plop dirty dishes in so they can soak over the course of the evening.

10. Allot Time to Relax

If you’re hosting this year’s party, be sure to book some time off the following day to just. chill. out. Even the most stress-free party will require a lot of work, and it’ll likely do you good to have some “you” time the next day.

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It’s inevitable that something may not go entirely according to plan, and that’s absolutely okay. Try to flow with things, keep a sense of humour, and remember that you’re among those who love you: dinner doesn’t have to be “perfect” in order to be amazing.

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

1. Camping

A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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2. Staycation

You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

3. Island Getaway

People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

4. Fancy Resort

Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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5. Road Trip

The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

6. Charter a Boat

If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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8. Themed Retreats

There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

9. Working Honeymoon

Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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