As we get older and become more autonomous, many of us will be called upon to take no a great task: hosting Thanksgiving. Whether it’s for family once you start one of your own, for friends, or just for you and your cat, planning Thanksgiving can seem like a huge task to tackle. And it is, in many ways, especially if you’re used to big feasts. And as a young adult, it can be super overwhelming. 

Here are five tips and steps to make sure you’re able to host your first Thanksgiving without pulling your hair out and ruining your family dynamic. Hopefully. 

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Before you host your entire extended family for Thanksgiving, figure out if that’s feasible for you. Is there enough room in your house? Do you have the funds to buy the groceries? Do you like hosting people? Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you can’t host all 19 cousins, say so. Don’t just cope with it, because it won’t be fun. Not only do you need the money and the space, you also need the time and the skills. If cooking has never been your strong suit, know that, and plan on how to get the food from somewhere else. If you’re going to have to head into work that evening, consider hosting an earlier dinner. Know yourself and know your situation before committing to hosting Thanksgiving, even if it you know you should offer. It’s a big commitment to take on. 

The dish situation

This is one of the biggest concerns that arise after you agree to host. The dishes! You’ve got to cook the food and serve it in something, and then those dishes have to get clean. If you’re a small household that only has four plates and one casserole dish, you need to plan ahead. Some people go disposable for Thanksgiving, environment be damned. It saves a lot of hassle if you can throw it away instead of wash it and dry it afterwards. Others invest solely in plastic silverware, or plastic cups, or whatever you feel like would make your life easier. Or, if you’re hosting friends, ask people to loan you their dishes. Seriously, what else would they need them for that day? 

Outsource where you can

There is no shame in getting help, especially when it comes to Thanksgiving. Not every potential dish is in everyone’s wheelhouse. Plus, there’s a reason grocery stores and restaurants advertise their options for Thanksgiving. Order your pies from Costco. Have your Aunt make her famous cider. Tell your friends they all have to bring a type of bread. Don’t do it all alone, because you don’t have to. Especially for things you don’t normally make or have the ingredients for, why not have a restaurant or do the work for you and you pick it up? 

Tackle the bird

The turkey is definitely the most daunting part of Thanksgiving for me. I hate cooking and handling meat all year round, so I outsource whenever possible, or straight up choose an easier meat to tackle. But if you’re committed to the bird, plan ahead. Make sure you thaw ahead of time. Make sure you know HOW to stuff and slice and all that jazz. Make sure your pan is big enough. Give yourself enough time and plan the oven schedule so your sides can get some heat too. A turkey game plan is a must for Thanksgiving, especially your first time around. You might want to also have a long-time host on speed dial just in case you have questions.

What will you do when the tryptophan kicks in

While this isn’t about the food, it is about the experience as a host.  What will you do after the meal, when everyone is exhausted and needs a nap? Is everyone crashing at your place? Are you headed to a movie? Putting on some music and playing board games? You won’t want to move much once you’ve had a ton of turkey, so plan accordingly, and know your crew. Will they linger and chat, or hit the road? You need to be prepared if you’re going to be hosting twenty people for the night or if they’re all going to split after dessert and leave you with the clean-up?

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member