Family Life


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9 tips for hosting a stress-free, maybe-even-fun holiday dinner

family gathered at thanksgiving dinner

Are you hosting a holiday dinner? If so, I hope you’re not in knots about how to pull it all together. I’m not very experienced at hosting a turkey dinner, but my husband and I welcomed his entire family for the first time a few Christmases ago and it wasn’t as stressful as I had feared. We’ve got a bevy of recipe options to at least take care of the grub.

With the meal well in hand, here are some ideas for how to enjoy the evening:

  • Involve your children. Even little ones can fold napkins. Get them to make place cards or count cutlery.
  • Make as much ahead of time as you can. Pie, casseroles, even mashed potatoes. On second thought, buy a pie to save yourself even more time.
  • Set the table the night before. With my husband being the chief cook in the house, I have taken over the table and décor and find having that out of the way a tremendous relief. And it looks nice.
  • When guests ask “What can I bring?” don’t say, “Oh, whatever you like”. Be specific. You might stop short of giving them an actual recipe (I’ve heard of some people being so bold!), but specify “green salad” or “appetizer” for example.
  • Don’t drink too much, and balance it with water. Nothing’s worse than a host who can’t stay awake.
  • Prepare your coffee maker before dinner.
  • Ditch your superhero cape. When people ask how can they help, they really want to help. Get them chopping.
  • Don’t feel you have to do everything the way your family did when you were a kid. Start your own traditions! Thanksgiving and Christmas are great times to contact your local food bank or soup kitchen, or even just visit an elderly neighbour.
  • Whether you’re having turkey with all the trimmings or soup and grilled cheese, be thankful. Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to be spending a holiday dinner at someone else’s home, give a little extra thanks!

Originally published in 2012.

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