Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving for a Novice

This is my first thanksgiving I am hosting alone.  I once roasted a duck but I really have to credit my roommate for most of the work.

To say I'm nervous is an understatement.  I'm totally afraid I will completely mess it up in some major way.  To allay my fears I have read every thanksgiving related article that has entered my inbox (and I am member to many newsletters, so there were a lot).  I have also researched cooking a turkey and all the sides with every website I love and many I have never heard of.  So now I consider my self an armchair thanksgiving expert.  I have never actually cooked anything on the given day, but I know ALL about it.

As I drink a nice cold martini I will pass this info on to you.  I might even add some links to good articles I have read, although most of it has passed my browser window without being recorded.

Of course my ultimate guide is good old Martha.  I'm planning on using her Herb Rubbed Turkey and accompanying White Wine Gravy.  

Here are five tips I used:

1) Have people bring stuff.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but it really is a great idea.  Why make everything if you have a bunch of people coming over.  Give people some ideas, but if there is a special dish a person wants to bring, let them.  The more food the merrier.  (We will just have to see how this works this year, I really hope I have enough oven space).  

I have family bringing everything from deserts to appetizers.  I plan on making the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and two sides.  That is enough for the day of.

2) Don't do all your shopping in one day!!!  I read this tip and promptly forgot about it.  Then today when I was shopping I realized what a good idea this was.  The store ran out of the stuffing mix I wanted and the shops were crazy today (the Monday before Thanksgiving).  Next time I will buy a bunch of groceries ahead of time so the last minute items are easier and less time consuming.  (It literally took me all day to get everything.)

3) Plan as much ahead of time as you can.  I do this all the time.  Whenever I have a party I always try to plan everything out so it is a little easier.  This year I made a time line starting Monday and working more specifically closer to Turkey Day.  I am not committing to the schedules totally, but it gives me a rough idea of when I want things done.

4) Dust before you vacuum.  This is another thing I did not do.  It is a good idea.  I just started a new job working for a house cleaner and she always works from the ceiling down, it is a good system (more about that in another post).
5) Have fun!  This is one tip I have to remind myself all the time.  At some point in the night you have to just let go and enjoy yourself.  If the host is not having fun no one will be comfortable.

Besides food, I'm really excited about my holiday decorations.  I bought these giant apples and some purple thingies, (rutabagas) and I plan to carve out a space for votive candles.  they will go down the center of the table to light everyone's faces.

 Like this, but with other apples instead of pumpkins (I could not find any small pumpkins anymore).

Then for the holiday tradition I want to start, I have little squares of origami that I people can write things they are thankful for.  The papers get rolled up and put in a bowl.  At the end of the night we can open the rolls and read what everyone wrote.  It should be fun.

I will be sure to take a bunch of pictures (if I'm not too busy cooking) to show you all my ideas next week.  Maybe then it can be archived for next year.

Tell me all about your first time hosting Thanksgiving!  Maybe your stories will help elevate some of my nerves 

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