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You just moved into your brand new house, and now you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner.
While that seemed a like a good idea when you first volunteered, now the idea of cooking the food and everything else that goes with the perfect family occasion seems a bit …. daunting.
Here’s something Mom or Memaw may have never told you — it’s not that hard. In fact, sometimes the hardest part is figuring out how to seat everyone in one room, or at least in adjoining rooms. And with your beautiful, new, open-concept living space, you have that covered. Now to tackle all the rest.
And when we say food, we mean the turkey. The centerpiece of a Thanksgiving meal, the turkey is probably the most intimidating item on the menu. But cooking it is simply a matter of oven temperature and time, or so says Food Network in the “World’s Simplest Thanksgiving Turkey” recipe. Have an oven thermometer on hand and make sure your bird is big enough — basically one pound per person. And one last bit of advice when it comes to the turkey — buy it enough in advance to give it time to thaw. Check out thawing times and alternatives here. The gravy isn’t hard either, but if the idea of possibly lumpy gravy is stressing you out, go ahead and buy it from the store (no one has to know!).
When it comes to all the rest, invite others to help you with the heavy lifting by bringing side dishes and desserts. Consider having snacks out pre-dinner — especially for the kids and just in case Aunt Sally is running late with her famous green beans. If others are bringing dishes to go with your beautiful turkey, make sure to keep a list so not everyone shows up with cornbread dressing.
You can go simple or extreme — it’s all up to you. Simple can be a beautiful tablecloth and a purchased flower arrangement. If you want to do something that won’t be too hard, get out the spray paint and have fun with pomegranates, miniature pumpkins and other gourds. Use the spiffy produce for the dining table, coffee table or as placeholders. Get the kids involved with paper leaf table runners or a fall candle centerpiece. You can find other ideas here.
And don’t sweat the dishes. If you don’t have enough place settings or just want to minimize the dishwashing, paper plates are okay — just make them sturdy!
The Giving Thanks Part
Thanksgiving isn’t entirely about eating turkey and watching the Texans. It’s about taking a moment to express gratitude — either out loud or silently — for the blessings in our life (like your brand new home!). Consider something as simple as setting out photo albums so friends and family can recall the good times. Pass a “gratitude basket” where each person writes down one thing that makes them feel grateful. Read the thoughts out loud — if you want to put a fun spin on it, try to guess who wrote what. Have a Thanksgiving “tree” and let people write what they are thankful for on paper leaves and hang on the tree. Even young guests can take part — just give them paper and crayons so they can draw pictures of what they are thankful for. (It might be a good idea to cover the kids’ table with butcher paper.)
The end of the day
You know that spa-like bath that also came with your brand new home? If there was ever a time to sink into a bath of bubbles (perhaps with a glass of champagne to celebrate your success), it’s after everyone goes home. Relax, relive and start thinking about next year.