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Some people are natural entertainers. It seems that no matter how many guests pass through the front door, these polished hosts are ready to greet, serve a twenty-course meal and engage in stimulating and witty conversation. Yet for others, hosting Thanksgiving can be a stressful situation. You must clean the house, provide comfortable seating and entertainment for many guests and ensure that there is a fabulous spread of food on the table.

How to Host Thanksgiving

With basic organization and planning, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner can be as easy as pumpkin pie. The key is in the lists. Making lists will not only help you feel in control but will also ensure that you won”t forget any details. Make lists for the following:

  • appetizers
  • entertainment
  • guests
  • supermarket items
  • the main meal
  • wine and beverage list.

Planning Thanksgiving Dinner

Once you have established how many guests you will be inviting to your Thanksgiving dinner, you need to consider their needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have guests on special diets?
  • Do you have guests with food allergies?
  • Do you have picky eaters?

Make sure that there are appropriate food choices for all your guests, but remember that it is fine to serve dishes that may not be appropriate for everyone. As long as people have choices, they will enjoy and appreciate the Thanksgiving dinner.

If you have children who are picky eaters, you might want to make a tray of macaroni and cheese or even a small plate of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to ensure their comfort.

Thanksgiving Dinners: Formal versus Informal

Will you host Thanksgiving as the primary chef, or will you enjoy a variety of dishes and culinary treats from your guests? If you are sharing the meal responsibility with others, make sure that you have a list of which guests will bring which dishes, in order to avoid duplication or a forgotten main course.

Also make sure you know if these dishes will be brought hot and ready to eat, or if they will need to be warmed at your home. The juggling of cooking, warming and serving can be overwhelming if you are not prepared for it. If extra heating trays and hot plates will help, ask your guests to bring those too. If your neighbors are joining you, ask if dishes can be reheated in their ovens.

Seating Plans

If you are having a large celebration, you may not be sure where to put everyone. Will you have an adult table and akid”s table? Will you need to seat some people on the couch?

If you prefer the more traditional, large-table affair, you may need to be creative and use a few smaller tables pushed together and unified with matching tablecloths. If the weather cooperates and you live in a warm climate, consider having a Thanksgiving picnic or a more formal outdoor dining set up. Just remember not to sweat the small stuff. The holiday is about being together, and your guests will appreciate that regardless of how large a table you may have.

Thanksgiving Food: Homemade versus Catered

If you want to host Thanksgiving but are pressed for time and simply cannot juggle cleaning, cooking, working, shopping, entertaining and producing the perfect meal, don”t hesitate to buy some prepared food dishes. Whether you purchase delectable pumpkin pies and chocolate layer cakes or specialty potato dishes from your favorite deli counter, the food will be enjoyed, and you will be able to work on other aspects of the celebration.

Perhaps the best rule to remember when hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is to do what works best for you. Don”t forget to enjoy yourself and the family celebration. After all, that is what the holiday is really about.

 Posted on : September 18, 2013