Host Thanksgiving Without Pulling Your Hair Out

So last year we were enjoying Thanksgiving from the warmth of sunny California. Up until a few weeks ago I had every intention of going out to eat and skipping all the cooking + cleaning this holiday inevitably brings. But, somewhere along the line my husband talked me into the idea of cooking at home, and so we invited guests, and now we’re hosting our first Thanksgiving dinner (you can bet Ben is doing 100% of the dishes). 

Are you also hosting dinner this year? Stressed about it? Use these 12 tips for a bit more breathing room to count your blessings and enjoy your company:

  1. Start with a clean slate. Be sure to deep clean ahead of time to make cleaning up after the event a bit easier. Did you know you can use bathroom cleaner to get your kitchen counters and sinks sparkling with a little less scrubbing? 
  2. Go ahead and make the gravy beforehand. Just freeze it and then thaw before use. You can even add some juices from your turkey the day of. 
  3. Stick with dishes you’ve made at least once to minimize stress. Making something new? Serve it to the family for dinner a few weeks before so you’re sure you know how to make it. 
  4. Set the table the night before. If you’re having guests come from out of town to spend the night, plan on a low-key dinner the night before (pizza in the living room maybe?) to avoid using the dishes and table space. 
  5. Clean as you go, and definitely start with an empty dishwasher. 
  6. Delegate side dishes, desserts and salads as you see fit. For ease, keep yourself in charge of the bird so it can cook in your oven and be served warm. 
  7. Create a playlist the week before or find a great Internet radio station that will do most of the picking for you (which gives you an out if someone doesn’t like a particular tune).
  8. Line your pans with foil while cooking so all you need to do is toss the foil and give the pan a quick rinse afterward. 
  9. Double or triple line your trash bags. This way, once a bag is full, there’s another one ready to go beneath it, and you won’t have to worry about replacing trash bags while youโ€™re wrangling the bird. 
  10. Don’t let the dishes sit. Start right away, or be sure to let the dishes soak, otherwise everything will be much harder to clean. Plus, it’s always nice to relax when you know you don’t have a huge mess to attend to later. 
  11. Consider disposable dishes for dessert. You can find plenty of nice plastic plates and utensils designed for weddings. This way, when the dinner dishes are done, you don’t have to go back into the kitchen for round two of cleaning. 
  12. Use a great dish-washing detergent. Maybe you don’t always splurge on the best, but for a meal with lots of dishes, youโ€™ll want to maximize your dishwasher and minimize the hand washing/scrubbing before loading.
created in collaboration with Kroger

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  1. Wow, every time you mention your husband, I fall more impressed with him. I Don't know him personally, but he seems like the perfect husband who would do anything for you. I am sure you already know that. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not all women have it that nice, sadly. Know how lucky you are.

  2. I totally was rambling on about your awesome hubby that I forgot to say thanks for the tips. I will use them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Really good tips, Liz! Love them. I wish we were hosting! I love cooking Thanksgiving food but we need to have a place big enough for everyone first! Good luck with it all–you'll impress everyone I'm sure of it:)

  4. We hosted our first thanksgiving last year and it was so much fun! You'll be glad you did it once it's over. Also, I'm always jealous when I get a glimpse at how much natural light there is in your house!