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10 Tips for Hosting an Amazing Thanksgiving Dinner

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 April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

More Tips About Building Positive Relationships

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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