Don't panic, last year was my first year hosting Thanksgiving. I got you, with some tips, tricks, and more.
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You know you’re becoming a real adult when you ask to host a major family holiday for the first time since moving out. In 2022, I not only signed up to host, but I guess I didn’t think things through when I signed up for the biggest food holiday of the year: Thanksgiving. This was before I started dating my husband but thank God he came into my life before this event.
In my family, the host of thanksgiving is in charge of cooking the turkey, plates, utensils, and ice. Everyone else brings either sides to share, dessert, drinks, or entertainment for the kids. At the time I lived in my apartment and they had a heated pool so the kids could swim. Win-win for everyone involved.
I remember stressing on getting the turkey right. I wasn’t sure where to find a bird or how many pounds of bird to get. I found a recipe online that had 5 stars from several people, you can find here. I borrowed my mom’s turkey cooker. I consulted my mom several times to make sure it would go off without a hitch. I think I was up at 5 or 6 AM and began on my bird. I took out the gizzard, the liver, and the heart. I cooked the liver and heart and fed them to my cat and my husband’s dog. I slathered it in butter. I shoved fruit and veggies inside. I babysat the bird like my life depended on it. I am so thankful I had my husband there to help me run back and forth between my apartment and the pool area I rented out and the front gate to allow people to come through. And you know what? Thanksgiving went really well. The turkey I was stressing over turned out really well.
Because my husband’s family is also local, not only was I hosting, I had another Thanksgiving celebration to go to afterwards. So after eating we packed up the leftovers people didn’t want to take home, and left. My family ended up staying until after my other Thanksgiving celebration was over and had a blast.
So if you’re hosting a family holiday for the first time...
Breathe. It’s gonna be great, no one is going to give you a hard time. They all remember how hard it was hosting for the first time.
Get Help. Don’t be afraid to call your mom and dad 57 times or ask your significant other to pitch in.
Plan ahead. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll be way more stressed. Make a list of everything you need for the event then cross it off one item at a time.
Have a game plan on location. If you live in an apartment, do they have an area you can rent out or reserve? If you live in a house, where are the areas your guests can eat? In your kitchen or entertaining space, how many plugs do you have for the obscene amount of crockpots you’ll have?
Over communicate. Find out who is coming. Figure out what people are bringing to your family holiday if you’re doing a potluck. If you have parking restrictions, communicate with your guests because it would put a damper on Thanksgiving if your grandparent’s car gets towed. I’m not normally a fan of group chats, but this is a time I would actively advocate for a group chat. It doesn’t hurt to use Google calendar to invite people with details on time, location, and description filled out.
Know what you’re doing with your pets. At the time, Marley, my husband’s dog, was still pretty young and barked every time we left him in my apartment which wasn’t great for my neighbors. My cat, Bea, wasn’t used to dogs, she used to be feral and was still getting used to the idea of having a human around, much less a dog she spent time with every once in a while. From my memory, we put Marley in a kennel with lots of toys and chews–he could keep himself busy. My husband would run up to take him out to the potty every couple of hours. Bea we kept in either the bathroom or my room where she could hide out and not worry.
If you're looking for cute Thanksgiving plates and silverware, may I recommend these?
For cooking that turkey, I highly recommend a turkey cooker like this one, it's like a crock pot for turkey.
If you have pups that may be locked up for a bit, I highly recommend a lick mat. You can put peanut butter, some turkey organs (not the neck, it's bad for them), and kibble. Freeze it and it'll last them longer.
You’ll do great, I promise. Thank you for reading about my Thanksgiving hosting experience, I would love to hear about yours, so comment below with your hosting stories!