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Wednesday 13 November 2013

Host Your First Thanksgiving for His Family: A Two-Week Guide

You've got the ring on your finger — engagement or wedding — and now it's time to show his family that you've got what it takes to successfully host Thanksgiving dinner. Don't let the stress and pressure of planning a picture-perfect, Martha Stewart-esque Thanksgiving meal sabotage you; follow this two-week guide and you'll pull of a great event which everyone will enjoy.

Two Weeks Before

The guest list was probably set in stone before you joined the family, but play it safe and talk about this with your partner, finalize the list and give everyone a call to confirm that they'll be there. Now's also the time to open up your favorite recipe or meal planning app (try Epicurious) and make a list of ingredients, then save the recipe to the app's "recipe box" so you can easily pull it up. Avoid straying too far from the traditional holiday staples, because that's what most people expect.

Photo by Peter Morville via Flickr

Start shopping for non-perishables and frozen items now. Remember you'll be putting out about $50 for a 10-person meal, and if you ask guests to bring desserts, you'll be able to stay within your budget. Thanksgiving Day wouldn't be the same without catching the Macy's Parade or a football game, and if you compare TV providers you'll get better deals on some of the sports channels.

A Week Before

It's too early to get busy in the kitchen, but you can start deep cleaning your house so it's spotless when the family shows up. If your guests bring young kids, pick up a box of crayons and print Thanksgiving-themed coloring and activity pages to entertain them when they tire of their own toys.

Photo by gemsling via Flickr

Bake ahead. Rolls, mashed potatoes, pie crusts, soup stocks and gravy can be made, and frozen, up to two weeks before.
If you live in tight quarters, consider moving things around to make your home seem more spacious and comfortable for your guests. Take out unnecessary coffee tables and large decorative pieces, moving them to a room that will go unused. Plan seating arrangements and wash the linens.

Thanksgiving Day Week

On Tuesday, move the turkey to the fridge to thaw so it's ready to cook come Thursday morning. Butterball says to allow one day for refrigerator thawing for every 4 pounds of frozen turkey. Chill beverages and mix up juices for punch; just don't add the soda until serving time. Also it's time to start shopping for perishable and set out bread to dry, if you're DIY-ing the stuffing. On Wednesday night, move the frozen dishes to the refrigerator to thaw.

Photo by photofarmer via Flickr

Thanksgiving Morning

Get the turkey in the oven, per your recipe's directions, and make the dishes that haven't yet been done. Try not to multi-task, lest you accidentally mix up ingredients and end up with some less-than-desirable results. As you have time, do a quick run-through of the house, turn on some music, set out coffee and appetizers being sure to assign some of the tasks to your significant other.

Photo by TheKohser via Wikimedia Commons

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