Kris & Chelsea

The 7 Deadly Sins of Hosting a Big Thanksgiving Dinner

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Holidays are supposed to be JOYFUL, right?! But more often than not, it can be stressful, overwhelming and you are finding ways to get rid of family and guests before they’ve even shown up yet. Or you start having nightmares about and over done turkey, an uncle parking a rusty RV in your driveway, and a house that is never clean…

Hey! It’s ok! Deep breath. No one will care if your bird is perfectly succulent and the stuffing is on point if you don’t offer a friendly, warm experience as a whole. Avoid these seven common hosting mistakes so that your Thanksgiving dinner is as smooth as canned cranberry sauce.

1. Only planning the big meal

The main attraction of Thanksgiving Day is obviously the turkey meal, but you need some opening acts too. For many Thanksgiving gatherings, the only activity that needs to be planned is watching football, but I’ve heard that some Thanksgiving parties involve taking walks, playing board games, or delivering poignant speeches about love and family. Having something planned is particularly important if kids will be there!  This isn’t to say you have to micromanage everyone’s schedule, but remember: Thanksgiving is a whole day..if not weekend.

2. Overpacking the house

I broke this rule one Thanksgiving— hosting way more people than my little house could support. People ate from mismatched dinner plates, and many adults sat at the kids’ table. We ran out of forks, spoons, plates…milk! No one had room to do anything. And having one bathroom…well…disaster. This year we’re shaking it up, the family is constantly expanding…with significant others, kids, dogs…so we’re renting a venue to have plenty of space and places to decompress if it gets to packed and hot in the kitchen.

3. Forgetting the appetizers

You have to prepare a lot of food for a Thanksgiving feast, but don’t forget the hours leading up to the meal. Your guests need bacon-wrapped figs, pigs in blankets, and other foods wrapped in foods. Or at least some chips and salsa. If anyone offers to bring a dish to dinner, put them on appetizer duty. They’ll probably knock themselves out with something that would be an afterthought to you. Speaking of people asking to help out…

4. Turning down help (or taking too much help)

You don’t have to go it alone. If your guests offer to help out on Thanksgiving, tell them “heck yes” and take them up on it. Unless your friends and family are complete stinkers, at least one guest will at least offer to help clean up after dinner, and everyone else should be shamed into helping. Under no circumstances should you say, “oh, no, I’ll take care of the clean-up.” That’s what they want you to do, and they will leave you with a disaster area of a kitchen and some serious grudges to nurse.

That said, if your friends and close family offer to help, and you take them up on it, don’t go too far with their services. be grateful but don’t take advantage! There are some can do all attitudes, but that doesn’t mean they should do it all.

5. Not cleaning the house well enough

Please, in the name of all that is good and holy, clean your place before having anyone over for any meal—but especially Thanksgiving. You don’t have to clean the bedrooms or other places that guests won’t use. But the bathrooms definitely need some bleach…maybe a candle!

6. Using Thanksgiving to deal with family issues

Picture National Lampoon Christmas…enough said? Put it aside, get along, and be nice! Keep yourself above the fray. Don’t get into a child-rearing debate with your mother-in-law.  Stand your ground with a smile, a joke or a breezy comment. And mind those substances…there’s  a fine line between wine and WHINE! Keep potentially upsetting topics off-limits, take a breather when needed, and accept that you can only control your reaction. Stress can make our nerves extra sensitive. Set boundaries with yourself ahead of time, and have some grace for yourself and others!

7. Stressing out about it too much

Chances are good that your Thanksgiving could be a disaster— but the kind of disaster matters. There’s the type of disaster where the Turkey gets burned and you forgot to buy potatoes, but everyone laughs and makes pasta and it’s really the best Thanksgiving ever. Then there’s the kind of disaster where the bonus you were supposed to get for the new pool is actually a “Jelly of the Year” subscription, a dog chasing a squirrel wipes out the dinner table, and…well…you get the picture. Whatever happens, roll with the disasters, and keep a light heart and a sense of humor. Hopefully no one will remember the truly bad parts of the day…and you call all focus on what matters! Family, friends, love, food on the table, roof over your head…and a heart full of gratitude for this crazy, awesome thing called life.