Well, I survived Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. I love the food, the colours, the cozy weather and just setting time aside to hang out with family.
I have always said Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday but never really thought through why until the other day when I had an ‘ah- ha’. The reason I like Thanksgiving so much is that there is no buying presents involved. Don’t get me wrong, I like buying presents for people, but would rather just do it if I see something someone might like, and not just because it is a particular holiday. I also find that the holidays that focus on buying gifts can cause unneeded stress and I would rather just focus on spending time with the people I love.
I like that Thanksgiving is just about eating lots of yummy food, gratefulness and being with people, nothing else.
So, all this to say that I am always happy to host Thanksgiving. Our amazing mom use to host all of the holidays and seriously did every last bit of it on her own. Now, that she is gone, Lisa and I have divided up hosting the holidays. I get Thanksgiving.
I have learned that hosting a holiday meal is no small task. We usually have 10-15 people at these dinners so it involves some forethought. Both Lisa and I work full time so it does not take much to tip the balance in our life. This particular Thanksgiving, I had way more than usual going on (I decided to finally to do my yoga teacher training, which of course started the same weekend as Thanksgiving!) and was expecting a table of 12 so I needed to put some prep in.
I thought it might be helpful for all you other working mommas out there to give you my prep schedule and my go to tips for pulling off a holiday meal without running yourself in to the ground! Here is my week schedule leading up to dinner.
Monday: Mashed potatoes. I roasted 2 full garlic bulbs and used an entire block of Boursin Cheese. Go big or go home right? These are delicious. Once they have cooled, I throw them in the freezer until the day of the meal. Remember though, because you are freezing them they will need a good stir after they have defrosted and a few minutes under a broiler before serving.
Tuesday: Cranberry Sauce. This is one of my favorite things to make at Christmas and Thanksgiving. The smell is amazing. I always use fresh cranberries and add some cloves and orange rind. It is festiveness in a pot.
Wednesday: Soup. I made a butternut squash soup in the Instapot. It was very quick and easy. The soup was topped with pancetta (which was seriously the best part). I made enough to serve a small serving as an appetizer at Thanksgiving and enough for left overs to put in the freezer for dinner the following week. Side note: I have a serious bowl shortage in my house so served the soup in little mason jars. Looked supper cute.
Thursday: Stuffing. I do everything except bake it on this day. I sauté the onions, celery and sage in more butter than you want to know, add the bread cubes, sliced apples (or dried figs), and then the broth. I leave it at this point and until Saturday and then stir in my roasted pecans before baking it.
Friday: Set the table, then sit and chill, it’s been a busy week!
Saturday morning: Make the whipped cream for the pies, prep the turkey (at this point my husband is on turkey duties), take the mashed potatoes out of the freezer. Now go do something fun and relaxing. Nothing is worse than a stressed-out host!
Saturday evening: Take it all in and enjoy.
Notice there is no pie, or other side dishes mentioned? That is because I delegate! I believe that when people ask “what can I bring?” they are asking because they actually want to bring something. Family meals should not cause a load of stress on the person hosting. The point is to be in community with family and friends and enjoy a meal together. As a working mom, I have no problem asking for help (this is new). My dad brought the desserts, my sister brought another veggie dish and my mother in law brought the salad and bread. Oh, and everyone brought a bottle of wine. I love community meals where everyone pitches in a bit. No one is over stressed and we all get to enjoy what people have contributed.
Another thing I want to mention too. I did not do a massive clean-up before people came. I did not wash my floors, or worry about things being perfect. I made sure that it was tidy enough. Because I am okay with good enough for right now if that is what it takes for me to enjoy these occasions with my family. I am sure my family prefers a relaxed me to a pristine house.
Hope you have found this helpful and can use some of the tips for your next big family meal. We will put out a more detailed dinner schedule for you in early December for Christmas.
I would love to hear any of your tricks to make big family meals low stress!
Happy Thanksgiving friends,