A little outside the box thinking can help you host Thanksgiving like a boss this year.
It’s always an exciting time when plans for Thanksgiving are in the works. For some of us, that may mean staying home with immediate family. Others may open their houses to friends and family just as they do every year or head out to enjoy the festivities somewhere else.
Whatever direction you go, Thanksgiving is one of the better holidays, if not the best. All the great food and company (for the most part) of Christmas without the hassle of gift giving and receiving. If the gathering is at your home this year, host Thanksgiving like a boss. While the following tips won’t keep Uncle Harry from making a fool of himself, it will help create an atmosphere that could leave you hosting for years to come.
Often enough, the weather in Alabama in late November is pretty pleasant. Set up a table and chairs in the backyard just like you would in the dining room. Set up a bar and appetizers on the porch or patio and use paper and plastic rather than grandma’s fine china. As we go down through this article, you could take any of these ideas and put your outdoor bent on them.
Classic, Simple Decor
Too many decorations equals clutter. Keep it simple. A few pumpkins, mixed between orange and white, plus a classic fall floral arrangement will be enough. These are decorations that go with the whole fall season and can be easily rearranged in your house.
Cook Two Turkeys
Cook two turkeys to satisfy multiple palates and picky eaters. Roast one, deep fry one. While roasted turkey has a tendency to become dry if it’s even slightly overcooked, a deep fried butterball will turn out juicy and delicious most of the time. Plus, it’s a great way to stand around outside sipping cocktails, catching up with your kinfolk. Sort of like standing around the grill, a deep fryer is a great place to gather…just not too close.
Decide the Sides
Choose what sides or desserts you want people to bring, assign it, and hold them accountable. If you’re sick of a cheapo cousin bringing the same store-bought potato salad to Thanksgiving every year, find out what they’re capable of actually making. Same for desserts. Apple pies from the Publix bakery end up in the trash far more than those of the homemade variety.
This is a lot of upfront work, but we promise, it will pay off in the years to come. Quarterbacking the whole operation will allow you to have a variety of sides and desserts rather than four types of macaroni and cheese and more pecan pies than a family of squirrels could cache for winter.
Set Up Two Bars
Perhaps this should have been point number one. Libations are imperative. To keep everyone in great spirits, set up two bars. This can also help create a diversity of cocktails. Use one bar for traditional bourbon, beer, wine. And set the other up for a specialty drink such as Bloody Marys. This gives you space to create a nice presentation.
Make Great Appetizers
Appetizers are key to a successful Thanksgiving despite being so often overlooked. The general idea is that everyone needs to sit down for dinner with an empty stomach. Wrong!
Light eating keeps people happy and sane. “Hangriness” tends to bring up old family wounds that a few pigs in a blanket could have easily avoided.
A lot of us here at Winter Homes hunt and fish. Don’t be afraid to raid the freezer for a variety of wild game appetizers. Dove, duck, or quail poppers. Summer sausage. A smoked fish dip. Your guests are content, out of the way, not asking when dinner will be ready. Don’t skip the appetizers!
Have an Outside Area
If the weather is nice on Thanksgiving morning, set up something outside where folks can comfortably catch some air, escape Aunt Doris’ cheek pinches, or hang out all day. A lot of homes we’ve built have covered patios with TVs, fireplaces, and outdoor refrigerators. There’s going to be a mediocre football game (the Detroit Lions and whoever they play) or two. Spread the snacks to the outside seating areas to help keep people out there and out of the way of the important work happening in the kitchen.
Pick a Playlist
Oh, ambience. Since nobody in Alabama cares about Detroit Lions football, pick a playlist to send softly through your audio system. Think about who’s coming to Thanksgiving and base your playlist on their musical tastes. Your mother may appreciate a rendition of Bocelli’s “Ave Maria” whereas cousin Stewie will give you an appraising nod when the Alabama Shakes come on.
Thanksgiving is a great holiday. If you’re hosting, may as well go all out for your guest and host Thanksgiving like a boss! Just remember, let that turkey thaw completely before dropping it into the deep fryer.