Holidays can be stressful, especially if you are the host or hostess. Here are a few tips to help keep the stress levels in check, as well as a few party planning tricks.
Eliminate the Anxiety...
Being organized is the number one stress-reducer. Prior to the day of your event, get out your serving dishes, serving utensils, etc., make sure they are washed, and place a note card in the dish that states what will be served in it.
This way, anyone can help you transfer from skillets or oven dishes to the serving dishes and you will have enough dishes out of the pantry. Also, make a list of all of the things you will need to have finished prior to Thanksgiving Day and what you will need to do the morning of.
Make and Bake Ahead
Prepare as many menu items the day prior to Thanksgiving as you can. This can include mashed potatoes, bread, pies, and some sides. See my recipe for Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes.
Take your guests up on their offers to bring a dish or help in the kitchen. This will easily take some of the workload off.
Have an Appetizer
This might not seem like a tip that will reduce stress since it includes preparing an extra item, but having a small appetizer will help you relax in the kitchen.
Your guests will have something to snack on while you are finishing up the meal and you won't feel so pressured to get everything finished so quickly. Make sure that it is something small that will not spoil their appetites, such as cheese, crackers, and grapes.
Party Planning Ploys...
The Focal Point
When I get ready to plan a party, I pick my focal point, just as if I were decorating a room in my home. This one item will be the basis for the decorations, and sometimes the theme of the food for the entire gathering.
This Thanksgiving, my focal point is the invitation. I chose a flat 5” x 7” stationary card from Shutterfly.com and used my “five free stationary card” promotion coupons (the invites and envelopes from Shutterfly are beautiful). The invitation I chose is brown and has a cartoon-like turkey at the bottom. I will integrate this illustration throughout my decorations.
Because this image is a common theme during Thanksgiving, I easily found coordinating paper products that were fairly inexpensive. Using paper products rather than china increases the amount of social time with guests during an already labor-intensive holiday.
For the place settings, rather than name place cards (sit where you wish!), find a clipart turkey and print it in color on white cardstock. Bake (or purchase) mini cupcakes and place them in the middle of each turkey. This works well with any image that has a round area, such as Santa’s belly for Christmas or flowers for spring.
Rather than having Mr. Turkey on every inch of every surface; give the napkin rings a subtle hint of him. Using a fall mix of craft feathers, place one feather on top of the folded napkin and tie loosely with ribbon.
Use leftover, un-carved Halloween pumpkins and dress them up with brown, wire edged ribbon. A fast fix decoration!
Although I am in my late twenties and have my own child, I am still at the “kid’s table” with my cousins (who also have children). I am not sure when, or if, we will graduate to the “adult’s table”, but in the meantime I tailor the kid’s table to the oldest of the children, Zoey, who is 6 years old.
Colorable tablecloths are prevalent and on trend at the moment. I was able to find one centered around, you guessed it, turkeys!
If you aren’t able to find one, brown craft paper down the center of the table will work the same. With a new set of crayons placed in a votive holder tied with brown ribbon, Zoey, as well as us child-like adults, will be entertained.
Fall is my favorite season; I hope you enjoy these tips and your Thanksgiving!