Top 5 Ways to Stay Sane While Hosting Thanksgiving

So it's your turn to host Thanksgiving? Fear not, we're here to help you survive and keep your sanity during Turkey Day!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. This means two things: either you’re figuring out what outfit will stretch enough at the family dinner, or you’ve started sorting out the game plan for hosting Turkey Day. If it’s the former, you only need to worry about the awkward hugs with relatives you haven’t seen in a year. But if you’ve been chosen to host the elaborate meal this year, you may be close to exploding. Before we let that happen, let’s take a breath!

Hosting a group can be very stressful, no matter how big or small. But don’t fret — we have five tips to help you get through talking to in-laws and planning out that kiddie table. We will cover organizing your to-do list, looking out for the surprises that can happen throughout the day, and what to do when everything doesn’t pan out according to plan. After seeing the list below, maybe you’ll feel a little more equipped for Thanksgiving and the events to follow afterward.

5. Plan Ahead

Before you even think about running to the grocery store to buy the 20-pound bird, you should sit down and make a to-do list for the day. You should be able to lay out the tasks that need to get done, what you need to accomplish them, and how long it will take to do it. You can divide them all into different lists. “Groceries,” “Cooking Times,” “Other Supplies,” and “What Needs to Be Cleaned” are just some examples. You should also note how many people are attending, who has dietary needs, and what your budget is. The last thing you need is to break the bank on this one dinner.

Instead of jotting it into your notes app or texting yourself, you should go old school and use a planner or even a bulletin board to visualize where you progress and see how long one job will take.

4. Expect the Unexpected

No matter how much planning you do, there are still things that you never expect to happen. Maybe your sister brought the boyfriend you thought she broke up with earlier in the week, only to reconcile hours before she was supposed to show up to dinner. Or your friend is back on her gluten-free, plant-based diet that makes just about everything on your menu a big no-no for her plate. ( Hey, it happens!

The best way to deal with unexpected guests is to do away with the fine china and go with some pretty but disposable plates. It’ll save you from having to do hundreds of dishes and let you set a new place for the surprise attendee.

If someone has dietary restrictions, make sure at least one of your dishes is entirely vegetarian or vegan. You don’t want the herbivores to go hungry.

3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

This one is a continuation of the previous tip. Aside from prepping for the unexpected, you should also be OK with letting things go. Sometimes, things are just out of our hands, like when an older relative makes an inappropriate joke. Let that awkward silence ride out, then announce that it’s time for dessert, or maybe it could be time for a quick game of Cards Against Humanity.

You can also continue the conversation you’re already having with that cousin you haven’t seen in a while as someone’s baby is turning beet red and wailing to their heart’s content. Besides, there are other family members there to handle that anyway.

2. Never Turn Down Help

Although you may have been nominated for this mighty task, you don’t have to do it alone. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help. When you have a team to pitch in, it’s not only going to make everything on your to-do list seem much easier, but it could also be a lot of fun. Maybe you can get a group together to go grocery shopping with you, and then one night can be just for prepping all the fruits and vegetables for the dishes that need to be made.

On the day of, a few guests who live close by can come earlier to help set the table, put out the booze, or plate the dishes in warm-colored platters.

1. Wine. Lots and Lots of Wine

And finally, you can bring out the booze. Whether it’s planning the week or two before Thanksgiving or during the meal itself, you can have a massive glass of red wine, like this one, that can hold a whole bottle. You deserve it!

Do you have any tips on how to survive hosting Thanksgiving? We’d love to hear in the comments below!