If you’re in a brand-new Paran Home (OR hope to be in one in time for Thanksgiving NEXT year), chances are you’re eager to open your home to holiday guests. While it can be an exciting time, it can also be undeniably stressful. Rather than risk a Turkey Day morning meltdown, we recommend taking advantage of the days leading up to Thanksgiving to organize in hopes of minimizing the stress. While there’s not much we can do to stop your mother-in-law from weighing in on your choice of décor or keep your uncle from diving headlong into the topic of politics, Paran Homes is proud to offer up the following five tips to hosting a fret-free Thanksgiving…
1) Take a Cue from Expert Culinary Teams: Now that you have a gorgeous new kitchen by Paran Homes, consider this your command central for the big day and DEVISE A PLAN. Decide ahead of time which recipes you would like to make, print them out and even laminate them (to protect from spills), shop for all of the ingredients so there are no unexpected Thanksgiving Day runs to find an open store, and develop a task list for Thanksgiving Day attendees. You KNOW a select few will ask repeatedly what they can do to help. If you REALLY want to minimize your stress, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say “can you help chop this onion?” or “can you please stir the gravy?” While you don’t want too many people in the kitchen, it’s nice to have several people around you in the heart of the home, where great memories are made and wonderful conversations are shared. Your task list can also cover the post-meal activities, such as clearing the table, washing dishes, drying dishes and putting the left-overs in containers.
2) Don’t Make a Rookie Mistake: While it’s fun and valiant to try a new recipe or two, Thanksgiving is the “big show.” You don’t want to disappoint yourself OR your guests by serving a dish that’s anything shy of fabulous. In the days leading up to Turkey Day, take a practice run of any new recipes you plan to try and use your family members as guinea pigs. Make a game of it and tell them that tonight, they are food critics. Give them each a pen and paper so they can write down their thoughts about the new dish(es). They can even share their ideas for ways to make it even better. This practice run will let you know which dishes will be making their debut at your Thanksgiving dinner and which won’t make the cut.
3) Map Your Prep and Serving Stations: When we design our homes, Paran Homes takes great care in considering everything from daily life to opportunities to entertain. Many of our designs feature an open flow between the kitchen, breakfast area and family room, and many of our kitchens features loads of countertop space and large central islands. A number of our homes also boast separate and spacious formal dining rooms. If you plan to serve from a long buffet table in your dining room, then you’re all set to purely prep in your kitchen. If you need to use your kitchen for both prep and service, you’ll want to map out where the “magic” will take place. This “station” plan can also jive with your task list for guests – your mom can prep the sweet potato casserole at one section of the counter, your sister can chop ingredients and toss the salad at another section of the counter, and you can manage everything going into/coming out of the oven while supervising the stovetop dishes. Have everyone’s tools, ingredients and pans in place at their stations to ensure a smooth operation. Set your kitchen island as your service buffet for the moment that you’re ready to serve.
4) Make Your Seating Chart: Seating charts aren’t merely for weddings, people! You know how many guests you plan to host and you ALSO know everyone’s distinct personalities. If you can’t fit everyone around the dining room table, consider expanding the kids’ table to the breakfast room. Depending on the size of your guest list, you may need to have a folding table set up to aid with overflow. Set each table ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to cook AND set up at the same time. Consider making place cards to place people where you believe they’ll feel most comfortable and have the most fun.
5) Set Guests Up with Delightful Distractions: You’re going to be BUSY making the Thanksgiving feast, but you don’t want a house full of bored (and hungry) guests. Have light snacks set about and plan games/activities to keep them preoccupied while you work your magic. Video games, board games or holiday-themed crafts are always a hit with the kiddos, older guests might enjoy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or sports on TV, and you’ll have a select group with you in the kitchen. You may also want to set up a ball jar, pen and paper squares where people can write the things for which they are thankful and pop them in the jar. The host of the meal can read these notes during the meal and guests can take guesses at who wrote them. If your family observes Christmas, you may want to set up an area where they can create their own ornament. If you plan to set up your tree soon, you can either add all of these new ornaments to your tree for your first Christmas in your new Paran Home or allow your guests to take their ornaments home as a keepsake of their Thanksgiving at your house.