You’re in your twenties, which means your family will start to consider you an ‘adult’ at times it’s convenient for them. One of these times is Thanksgiving, since you’re now grown up and eligible to host. If this fate has befallen you this year, don’t succumb to a complete mental breakdown just yet. Here are some tips for hosting a family Thanksgiving.
Turkeys take time, so give yourself time
If this is your first time cooking a turkey, start prepping now. A lot of recipes call for brining, which is an at-least overnight process. But more importantly, most turkeys are bought frozen, and these massive birds can’t just be tossed into water morning-of and defrosted. A lot of 10+ lb turkeys take days to defrost. It’s Monday, and Thanksgiving is on Thursday – go check your turkey’s label and get to defrostin’.
If you haven’t gotten a turkey yet, just give up. (Kidding – there’s still time. But handle this sooner rather than later because grocery stores do run out.)
Make a manageable menu
If you’ve got your family coming over for dinner, that’s probably at least five people once you factor in significant others, kids, and vagrant friends. If your family is like my family, you’re looking at around a dozen, maybe more. This means you’ll need to not only make delicious food to show everyone what a capable, wonderful adult you are, you’ll also need to make a lot of it.
Don’t panic. Instead, choose dishes that are delicious, simple, and call for affordable ingredients. Green bean casserole is always a hit, as are mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. You haven’t got to go gourmet on Thanksgiving in your twenties. You’re still young and cute and can lean hard on the excuse that you’re ‘just starting out.’ Abuse this while you still can.
Propose a potluck
If your mom is anything like my mom, she was never really going to let you undertake all of Thanksgiving by yourself. And for that, I am so grateful. As soon as I offered, my mom essentially said ‘yes, absolutely, and I’ll cook these 82971 side dishes.’ To which I replied, ‘thank fuck.’
Pride has no place when it comes to feeding the masses. If someone offers to bring a side dish, let them! It makes people feel good to contribute, and it’ll take a load off of you when the time comes. This year, I’m only responsible for two dishes, and I’m have a dozen people over. That’s how you Thanksgiving.
Be smart when it comes to invitations
Like half of you, I’m a child of divorce. This makes navigating family get-togethers a powder keg of tension, though over the years I’ve learned how to mostly navigate it. For my family, this means only inviting one parent to any given affair at a time. For your family, this might mean something similar.
My only advice is don’t capitalize on your first self-hosted Thanksgiving to create a ‘Parent Trap’ situation and force people together who historically don’t get along. You might have good intentions, and maybe they will one day work it out, but the holidays always make everyone doubly stressed. Just wait for an occasion where you aren’t worried about cleaning the bathrooms on time or burning the turkey to trick your estranged cousins into confronting their demons.
Clean ahead of time
And on the subject of cleaning, don’t wait until the last minute. Start early – start today! Choose the least-used space in your house and clean it first, moving down the list with that criteria in mind. Change sheets of unused beds, water every plant, vacuum the stairs, etc. Just get as much done as soon as possible so you’re not panicking on Wednesday about how there’s four years’ of hair clogging your only shower drain.
Unless you have kids. If you have kids, you’re fucked. Your house is probably just going to be a wreck and if anyone says anything about it other than ‘thank you,’ burn them off the family tapestry.
It can be easy to slip into a permanent state of tearful anxiety when you’re hosting a holiday. All I can say to this is, don’t. You’re young, and you’re doing your family a favor – they most likely recognize this. No one expects miracles from you. Let your plates be mismatched, let your brother’s weird girlfriend sit on a barstool instead of a dining chair.
Just for fuck’s sake, make sure your turkey is defrosted in time.
How do you prepare for Thanksgiving? I want to know. Seriously, please, help me. Xoxo, Grace
image courtesy of brooke