Happy Friday after Thanksgiving everyone! What a great day yesterday was. Focusing on family, being thankful for what we have, and enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving feast. As you all know by now, I am all about living my life the simple, frugal, fun way. Hosting Thanksgiving is no exception. I love hosting holidays. Everyone is in a great mood and relaxed. . Our parties are never huge, but I think the principles I follow are pretty much universal no matter what size crowd you are hosting. Here are my tips for keeping stress out of your holiday hosting.
- ALWAYS HAVE A BUDGET AND WATCH FOR SALES – A number one source of stress for most of us is money. Thanksgiving can get out of control really fast, but if you really think about it, the basics don’t have to put you into debt. I shopped for all of the food for Thanksgiving out of our regular weekly shopping budget over the past few weeks. One of the best sales this year was the turkey! One of our local supermarkets puts out a $7 coupon off a fresh or frozen turkey. However, their competitor accepts the coupon at their store and they have a price that is well below. The competitor sells the turkeys at .39/lb. So, my almost 20 lb. turkey cost me just pennies after using the coupon. Even without the coupon, it would have only cost me around $7 and change for the turkey, which is not a bad deal. Don’t ever be afraid to ask if you see one store running lower prices if they will match it.
- ASK GUESTS TO CONTRIBUTE– There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking guests to bring an item for the party. It often works out nicely when someone else can help out by bringing an appetizer, drinks, or dessert to contribute. It leaves time for you to focus on the main meal both ahead of time, and during the party. This year, family brought the desserts and it worked out beautifully.
- PREPARE ANYTHING YOU CAN AHEAD OF TIME– This is always a time and stress saver for me! This year, it just so happens we don’t have a microwave. I actually don’t mind it at all and have rarely missed it. I knew that without it I wouldn’t be able to heat things up last minute so I really had to plan everything out. Prepping ahead and putting some of my other small kitchen appliances to work helped a lot! I cut up cheese for the platter the night before as well as made my grandmother’s cranberry apple relish, yum! I made sure that the shrimp was thawed out and paired things up on my pantry counter for dishes to be sure that I had everything I needed and they would be easy to grab. In the morning, after putting the turkey in the oven, I made the mashed potatoes and put them in the crock pot to stay warm. I used a new recipe this year and they were absolutely fabulous! So creamy and delicious! You can find the recipe here. I used stove top stuffing this year because well, why mess with perfection, right? When the turkey was done, I put in the green bean casserole and a French meat pie that a guest brought, those took about a half hour or so. The baby carrots went into the steamer/rice cooker where they stayed warm until we were ready. Last, but not least, while everything else was being brought to the table, the rolls were heated quickly. Doing some of the items ahead or even in another appliance other than the oven/stove, it really freed up a lot of my time so I could visit in between instead of spending every minute in the kitchen.
- YOU DO YOU FOR CLEANUP – I am one that does not want to do morning noon and night in the kitchen for a party. So, when it’s dessert time, the dishes sit and I sit too! I sit back, enjoy my dessert and visit. I don’t worry about the dishes. I have a dishwasher and I know they will be done early in the morning. This has been the case every Thanksgiving for the past four years in this house. I know myself, I know it will get done, and I know it will be quick. Here are my before and after pictures. Start to finish was about 20-25 minutes this morning. Not bad at all and I didn’t have to miss out on the fun yesterday. If it makes you feel better to do it right after the meal or right after everyone leave, or at 10:00 after sitting down and relaxing, do it. The whole point here is to not stress. Holidays should be fun, not stressful.
- REMIND YOURSELF THAT NO MATTER WHAT, NO STRESS – This one is key! I cannot emphasize enough that you are the one who has control over this. When something doesn’t go right, take a deep breath, figure out a solution, say ‘I will not let this throw me’, and move on. That’s it. Keep it simple.
So there you have it. My five tips for keeping your holiday hosting stress free the simple, frugal, fun way! I hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday season. Stay tuned for some fun with gift making.