Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Did you know it’s only 10 days away? Are you freaking the fuck out yet? If the answer to those questions (or at least the first and last) is “yes,” I’m here to help you calm the fuck down. I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for years (like, 15 of them, I think) and it’s really not so bad. I mean, I’m not gonna lie to you. There’s a lot of work and planning involved. And if you, like me, can’t keep your house Instagram-clean to save your life, then (also like me) you should probably hire someone to come over and take care of that while you attend to more important matters, like stocking up on booze and ordering your turkey. But, seriously, I’m going to share with you some of my Thanksgiving hosting tips — including a handful of things you can do now — to make that shit go smoothly.
Here are 10 things you can do, seven to 10 days out, to get your ass (and your house) ready for Thanksgiving. And if this list seems a little sweeter than what I usually write, it’s because I’ve cobbled together some of the many similar pieces I’ve written for other publications over the years. Of course, I threw a few “fucks” in there for you, too.
10 Thanksgiving Hosting Tips – Shit to Do Ahead of Time
1. Get a head count.
Is your cousin is bringing her new boyfriend or did she already drop his ass? Are your mom and stepmom both going to be there? And maybe also your dad’s first wife who’s your half sister’s mom? (Asking for a friend.) I don’t really care who you invite, but getting a headcount now ensures you’ll have enough time to borrow tables, chairs, and whatever other furniture items you need so everyone can eat comfortably, and then have a place to lounge when the tryptophan-wine combo sets in.
2. Order your turkey.
Please tell me you’ve ordered your turkey. If you haven’t ordered your turkey, what the fuck are you waiting for?! Order your fucking turkey. Yes, like, right now. Call your butcher or Whole Foods or other fancy fucking grocery store and order your heritage breed whatever turkey. Like, don’t even read the rest of this post. Just go order your fucking turkey already. You can safely assume you’re going to need about a pound of turkey per person. And then, you know, more for sandwiches.
3. Plan your menu.
You should have a rough idea of what you’re going to serve for the holiday meal. I mean, there’s turkey (I hope, if you fucking ordered it), green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing, etc. Now it’s time to decide how many pounds of Brussels sprouts you’ll need and how you’re going to prepare them. Are you going to brine your turkey? What kind of rolls are you serving? Are you making pies or asking someone else to bring them? Make all of those decisions, and then make a shopping list based on the recipes for each dish.
4. Get help.
Unless you’re independently wealthy and happen to employ a kitchen staff, no one expects you to prepare the entire Thanksgiving dinner yourself. Doing so would take away from the spirit of the holiday, anyway. Remember that it’s more than okay to ask your guests to bring something. And if they can’t cook, ask them to bring wine. And even though you probably don’t employ full-time kitchen help (and if you do, why aren’t we friends?), and you’re doing this solo, ask a friend or family member to come over in the morning and help. This person should also bring you coffee and be willing to make last-minute trips to the store — because there’s no way you’re going to remember everything.
5. Shop till you drop.
You don’t want to be cursing locals at the liquor store the day before Thanksgiving, do you? (I mean, we’ve all done it but it’s not incredibly becoming.) Get as much shopping done as you can done now, while you can still do it with equal parts ease and dignity. Load up on non-perishables and, more importantly, booze. The last thing you want to run out of on Thanksgiving is beer and wine. Seriously.
Once the food runs out (or people have eaten as much as they can, in the first round, anyway) your guests will want to sit around and drink for as long as you will let them. And while it’s absolutely acceptable to ask each one to bring a bottle of wine, as the host, you should have some extra on hand. Plan on at least a bottle of wine per adult, and don’t worry about getting expensive stuff. Your guests will bring that, and after a few bottles, wine is wine, right?
What else you can buy now:
- Frozen vegetables
- Cranberry sauce (if you’re using the canned stuff, but it’s so easy to make fresh)
- Paper products (paper towels, napkins and, yes, extra toilet paper)
- Dried spices and herbs
- Bag for your turkey if you plan to brine it
6. Beg, borrow and steal.
Okay, maybe don’t steal (unless you’re really trying to reenact the origins of the holiday), but is your home equipped with everything you need to prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner? Are you sure? Do you have a stock pot big enough for boiling 15 pounds of potatoes? Or enough plates for dinner and dessert? What about wine glasses, chairs and serving pieces? Though a gravy boat is optional, if not antiquated, you’re going to need all the rest. If you don’t have a large stock pot, borrow one from your mom or a co-worker or neighbor. And if you find you can’t borrow everything you need, think about hitting thrift stores for kitschy, vintage finds. I took this picture (and all the images in this post) a few years ago for a BuzzFeed Thanksgiving table styling piece, so it’s a little outdated (and I have an updated Thanksgiving table styling post coming soon!), but you really can do quite a bit with mis-matched thrift store dishes.
In a few days, you can start worrying about this other shit:
7. Practice if you need to.
While you certainly don’t need to practice roasting a 12-pound turkey (that shit would get expensive and take up too much room in your already packed fridge), if you’ve never roasted poultry before, it might be worth your while to get a small chicken or turkey from the grocery store and brine it, baste it, and taste it. And if you’re planning to make some crazy side dish, why not try it out a week ahead of time?
8. Keep shopping.
At about a week out, it’s safe to buy almost everything you’ll need for your Thanksgiving dinner, including:
- Sweet potatoes
- Garlic (keep it in the fridge)
You’ll want to hold off for a few more days on produce like Brussels sprouts, green beans and whatever other fruit and green or leafy vegetables you’ll be using. But you can totally make your cranberry sauce now.
Oh, and buy more wine. You’ll thank me later.
This one might seem like a no-brainer, or might not apply to everyone. Or maybe you’ve already taken my advice and hired someone to clean for you. Either way, you’re going to have a lot of people in your home — maybe your parents will be there, or your in-laws. Start cleaning now, so you’re not tripping over a mop bucket to get to your turkey on Thanksgiving morning. That shit is stressful.
10. Check in with your guests. One more time.
Is your mom still bringing pecan pie? Is your sister still making her green bean casserole? OK, just checking.
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