Early November marks the beginning of the long-awaited holiday season; a time for families to come together, share memories, and eat entirely too much food.  The first holiday to kick off the season is one that’s centered around togetherness, and (usually) a classic oven roasted turkey: Thanksgiving. Being that Thanksgiving is probably one of the largest family holidays of the year, there’s a lot to consider.  Who’s hosting? What’s on the menu? How much food is too much food, and vice-versa. Hosting Thanksgiving Day is a task that can prove to be quite stressful, depending on how experienced you are and the size of your guest list. If you’re new to the game of hosting holiday family events, consider some of these tips to make the day smooth sailing.

Think Ahead

Make a Plan

You’ll want to start planning things ahead as early as possible.  Of course, some things need to be left until the week or day of; however, if there are tasks you can complete early, do what you can to get them out of the way first.  This could be so much as choosing the serving style (family or buffet), seating if you have a large group coming, and even the dining set you’ll be using. If you want to be festive you may have a specific set of dining wear for certain holidays.  Additionally, confirm your guest list as soon as possible, so you know how to plan accordingly.

Create a Menu

Another part of your plan, and probably the most important part, is planning your menu.  You’ll want to do this in advance so you have time to get everything you need. Additionally, you need to plan for guests who may be bringing other items.  You’ll have plenty of food, so don’t make extra work for yourself preparing something someone else is planning to bring.

Get Your Turkey

It’s always a good idea to buy your turkey ahead of time.  That way you have a better chance of finding a turkey that’s just the right size for the number of guests you’re having.  For a perfect size, figure about 1.25 lbs of turkey per person. This helpful guide can provide you with accurate person: turkey ratios.  You can also use this time to shop for any additional ingredients you might need ahead of time.

Start Your Prep Early

Anything you can prep early, you should.  Things like gravy or other sides that can be prepped and frozen beforehand are just a little-added way to be more time efficient.

The Day Of

Rise and Shine

Save your sleeping in for Black Friday (really, if you do all of your Black Friday shopping online, you can actually enjoy a post-turkey-day sleep-in). Thanksgiving prep requires an early morning start.  Organize everything you’re making depending on how long each item takes to cook and prepare. You want to do your best to make sure everything is generally ready at the same time.

The Perfect Roasted Turkey

The turkey is usually the center of your dinner table and a staple part of a Thanksgiving meal.  Depending on the weight, and if your turkey is stuffed or not, cooking times can vary. Either way, you’ll need at least 2 ½ hours minimum for oven time.  This guide is a great resource.

Prepare Apps & Sides

While the turkey is cooking, take this time to start to prepare all of your side and appetizers.  Anything that was made earlier and frozen, start to defrost and warm it, and get other sides cooking to keep up with your turkey. Quick Tip: try to at least have your starters and appetizers ready and served before your first guest arrives.  This will provide all of your guests with delicious apps to snack on while they wait for the main course!