I haven’t always been a relaxed chef. Thanksgiving is no exception, in fact it would bring out the worst in me. Despite my best intentions to host an easy Thanksgiving holiday, I would spend the entire day held captive in my kitchen only to resent the meal into which I had poured my sweat, blood, and tears. My family would arrive and I’d be wearing the same haphazard outfit I threw on at 6am, the hour at which I had insisted on waking so I could make my pastry dough from scratch. Instead of feeling fresh and fancy free, I looked like something the dog had dragged in, only worse. By the time dinner was on the table I would feel utterly defeated. The food I had spent all day preparing would be devoured in thirty minutes and no sooner had I sat down (for the first time all day) to eat, than I would have to get up to do the dishes.
Sometimes it takes a good slap in the face to learn life’s lessons. Experience has made me softer and wiser. I am now a firm believer that if the host isn’t having fun, no one is. There’s no need to create unnecessary stress. All it takes is a little planning and some tricks of the trade. As it turns out, Patanjali was right: future suffering can be avoided (Sutra 2.16).
Here are my tips for a stress-free Thanksgiving dinner. Get ready to kick back and enjoy your turkey day with all the fixings!
The key to easy entertaining is to have a schedule. Create a timeline for Thanksgiving to make sure you strategize your oven space in order to get all the food on the table at the same time. Work backwards from the time you plan on sitting down to dinner to the morning of, or the day before the big event.
Remove unnecessary appliances out of the kitchen (like toasters, etc) and stash them away in order to give yourself the luxury of more counter space.
Write down all your recipes in a notebook. Jot down what worked, what flopped, and any brilliant changes you made to your recipes. You will appreciate your advice come next year!
Make a list of all the things that need to get done (cleaning, tidying, decorating, setting the table, etc.) and get it done before the big day arrives. Don’t leave everything until the last minute or you’ll be too stressed to enjoy yourself.
Keep It Simple
You don’t need an elaborate table setting or expensive decorations to have a great Thanksgiving dinner. Candles, pumpkins, or one kind of flower in either a big vase or in little jars spread out across the table are all you need.
Factor some “you” time into your schedule so you can enjoy the day, whether it’s a walk, a yoga practice, or just time curled up on the couch to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Plan to give yourself ample time to get ready and dressed for dinner so you feel confident and at ease.