Hosting Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be stressful! Follow my top tips for having a stress-free Thanksgiving!

Thank you to Ocean Spray for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions are my own.

Now that Halloween is over, it’s time to start thinking about our next holiday, Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving really does kick off the entire holiday season and it can be stressful if you don’t plan ahead. With our busy lives and schedules, it’s easy to “forget” about upcoming events. And, before you know it, Thanksgiving will creep right up on you!

If you host the annual Thanksgiving dinner or maybe it’s your first time hosting and have no clue what you are doing, you want to start your planning now! By planning ahead you can ensure you will have stress-free Thanksgiving and actually enjoy the holiday with your friends and family.

I recently attended a first-time host CranMa’s Thanksgiving bootcamp! They gave us plenty of tips on how to rock a Thanksgiving dinner. From prepping your food in the days leading up to Thanksgiving to setting the perfect Thanksgiving table (with cranberries, of course), these CranMas were the ultimate source on all things Thanksgiving. Their tips were so good, I can’t keep them to myself!

Ready to host a stress-free Thanksgiving with the help of the CranMas?

Hosting a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Prepare Your Menu

Plan as much as you can ahead of time. I know I keep saying that but it really is key. Start thinking about the following things:

  • What will the menu include? Don’t forget your side dishes like Cranberry Orange Relish or Sweet Potato Casserole.
  • Will you prepare the entire meal or will others bring food as well?
  • Keep track of who will prepare and bring which dishes so you’ll know what needs to be cooked and you don’t end up with too many deviled eggs and desserts with no other sides.

Prep Your Food

Next, consider what you can do ahead of time rather than waiting until the week or day of Thanksgiving. Which of the dishes can be prepared in advance? CranMa Mary Ann likes to prep her Sweet Potato Souffle a few days ahead of time. One less thing you have to worry about on Thanksgiving day! Some things you might be able to do a few days or a week before the holiday include:

  • Bake a cake and freeze the layers; you can take them out the day before to thaw and frost. If you are topping your cakes with fruit, like cranberries, wait to add them until the day of.
  • Make a couple of pies and freeze them as far in advance as you can. As Thanksgiving Day arrives you can take the pie out, thaw it and heat it up. It’ll taste just like it was just made.
  • Casseroles can also be made a day or so ahead of time. Prepare the casserole, place it in the refrigerator and then cook it on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Take your turkey out in plenty of time for it to defrost safely in the refrigerator.

Setting the Table

Another thing you can do to lessen the stress of a Thanksgiving dinner party is to determine how many and who will attend so you can plan seating for everyone.

  • How many tables and chairs will you need?
  • Will you have enough seating or will you have to borrow tables and chairs?

Place the tables and chairs so everyone has a seat. Decorate the tables and then put all the place settings out. CranMa Sue shared with us that she sets her table the week ahead! If you can keep the kids from touching the table that long, get it done and over with! If you can’t set the table a week ahead, try and do it at least a few days ahead of time. This way you know if you need any extra plates or chairs.

  • Do you have a seating plan to ensure everyone is comfortable and family members who don’t get along so well don’t have to be seated next to each other?
  • Put name tags at each seat so everyone knows where to sit.

When it comes to decorating your table, think simple! Place some cranberries in water and top with floating candles. Or string some cranberries on wire to make napkin rings. You don’t have to get crazy to add these simple touches to your table.

Prepping the House

Now the dreaded part, the cleaning. Ask your family to help pitch in to ensure at least the rooms guests will spend time in are clean. Rather than waiting to clean up, wash dishes as you cook. Enlist several people to help act as the clean-up crew after the meal.

The more you can plan and do prior to the day, the less stress you’ll be likely to experience. And the more you can enjoy your family and friends. Remember to have fun and be thankful for those who have shared the day with you.

And when all else fails, ask CranMa! Have questions on how to make your dinner perfect? Chat with CranMa anytime on Ocean Spray’s new CranMa chatbot!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ocean Spray. The opinions and text are all mine.

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