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The Ultimate Guide for a Successful Thanksgiving

by | Nov 20, 2017 | Holidays

Are you hosting a large Thanksgiving gathering for the first time? Thinking about planning an entire Thanksgiving dinner for a large group can be daunting, from choosing your menu, to keeping your guests entertained while they wait for food, to ensuring that everyone remains safe and healthy throughout the holiday. To help you prepare for Thanksgiving 2017, we have the ultimate guide for hosting a successful holiday get-together.

Planning Your Thanksgiving Menu: What Should You Serve?

The first step in planning your Thanksgiving menu is finalizing your guest list. You will want to know exactly who is coming over for dinner, along with any food allergies to take into account when you are deciding on a final menu, according to an article in Food and Wine Magazine.

Next, clean out your refrigerator and your freezer so that you have room to properly store all of your food items before you cook them, and to properly store them for leftovers after the Thanksgiving meal is finished. The National Safety Council (NSC) emphasizes the importance of food safety when you are prepping for Thanksgiving or another large holiday meal to avoid personal injury and illness. Never defrost any of your food at room temperature after freezing it. Instead, thaw in your refrigerator, in cold water, or in your microwave. In addition, you should have enough space in your refrigerator and freezer so that you can store your leftovers in shallow containers within two hours after cooking.

Once you are prepared to store your Thanksgiving meal—both before and after cooking—you will need to buy your ingredients. If you need a large turkey, order it ahead of time. When planning your menu, Food and Wine Magazine recommends avoiding complication. Choose five side dishes and two different pies. You can also keep your Thanksgiving menu exciting by introducing colorful dishes like root vegetable gratin and a sturdy salad with greens like kale, escarole, and radicchio.

Getting Your Table Décor Ready for Guests

There are many ideas out there for planning a Thanksgiving dinner tablescape and centerpiece. The following are some tips for putting together stylish table décor for your guests:

  • Wash your linens ahead of time (including tablecloths, table runners, napkins, and even your apron);
  • Coordinate your tableware, but get comfortable with mixing and matching (when you are hosting a large gathering, it is unlikely that you have enough tableware from the same set for everyone, but mixing and matching can create a fun, eclectic table);
  • Create a centerpiece that suits your style (whether it is a vase of autumnal flowers, fruit, or gourds, find a vase or a bowl and fill it up with centerpiece items that complement your tablecloth and tableware); and
  • Choose candles for your dinner table (candles are festive and can create warm light for your guests).

When you use candles at your Thanksgiving table, be sure to consider fire risks and burn injuries. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) emphasizes the importance of blowing out all candles when you are not in the room to avoid a dangerous home fire.

Keeping Your Guests Entertained While They Wait for Dinner

For many Thanksgiving dinner hosts, it is important to think about ways to keep your guests entertained once they arrive at your home but before the dinner is served. Guests often enjoy appetizers, wine, beer, and cocktails while they wait for Thanksgiving dinner. In providing appetizers, Food and Wine Magazine recommends keeping your appetizer list “light and easy.” There are many appetizers you can purchase from your local grocery store, such as a meat and cheese board. Some cheese boards can also be ordered online. Other popular and easy appetizers include olives, pickles, crackers, and roasted pumpkin seeds.

You will want to select your wine and beer well ahead of time, choosing drinks to keep your guests busy while you finish cooking, as well as wine that will complement your menu. Serving alcohol at your Thanksgiving dinner is enjoyable for your guests. Hosts should keep in mind, as the American Red Cross emphasizes, that drinking and driving can result in serious and fatal car accidents. Ensure that your guests do not leave your home too intoxicated to drive, and if they cannot safely get behind the wheel, ensure that there is a designated driver.

Cooking and Serving Your Dinner

The last step to a successful Thanksgiving is preparing and serving your dinner. Always check your cooking devices ahead of time, from your turkey fryer to your stovetop burners. Many items, such as pies and salads, can be prepared ahead of time. Set a kitchen timer to ensure that nothing burns, and keep children out of the kitchen to prevent stovetop burn injuries.

As we mentioned previously, planning ahead to store your Thanksgiving leftovers can ensure that your food leftovers are enjoyable the day after Thanksgiving, too.

At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC, we want you to have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving with your family, friends, and loved ones. In the event an accident does result in a serious injury, an experienced Appleton personal injury lawyer at our firm can help.