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Foodie Friday: Thanksgiving Survival Guide

photo credit: Hostess With the Mostess blog. Click here for info on this table setting and other ideas!

Whether you’re hosting the party, or attending, big gatherings can be stressful. Hosting means a lot of prepping, planning, cooking, and all the rest of the fun that comes with opening your home to family and friends. Attending can be stressful, too! Making sure you’re on time, helpful to the host, bring the right thing (if you’re assigned something) and a gift? Do you need to bring a hostess gift?

Don’t worry about a thing. Let me see if I can help you get through it, no matter what your role in the festivities may be.

If you’re hosting, there’s plenty you can do to make your life easier on the big day. Planning is number one, of course! Here’s some helpful tips to get you through hosting a big gathering:

1.) Assign dishes! If you have a lot of people coming, don’t take on the whole meal yourself. Assigning sides, appetizers and desserts to your guests not only frees you up from the kitchen, but it also takes a weight off your wallet.

2.) Know your menu ahead of time. I usually make a list the weekend before. Even though I make pretty much the same thing every year, life is hectic and I always forget something if I don’t write it down!

3.) Make dishes ahead. This is the biggest time saver, especially if you work full time. Read through your menu and see what can be made in advance. Things like cranberry sauce can be made 2-3 days ahead, and stuffing can be made the night before.

4.) Prepare your table setting the night before. Weather you set a sit down table, or serve buffet style, have your table set. One less thing to do while you’re cooking! Be sure to iron your linens way in advance, too.

5.) Give out tasks. When people arrive at your house, ask them to help with things! Assign someone to making sure there’s plenty of drinks available (Put beverages an ice chest somewhere easy to access. This helps keep people out of the kitchen and out of your way!). Ask someone else to keep an eye on appetizers for you. Teens are great for that stuff. And, kids make great potato peeling helpers.

6.) If someone offers to help, accept! Letting people help you will get things done faster, so you can sit and relax too. There’s plenty to be done so, accept all offers.

7.) Make time to visit. This last one, is a big one. Don’t be the invisible host! It’s easy to get wrapped up in the kitchen and have the whole meal go by without ever getting a chance to visit with your guests. If you followed the tips above, you should have enough time to come out and chat with your friends and family. Enjoy them! That’s the best part of the meal.

If you are going to be a guest, rather than a host, these tips are for you:

1.) Don’t be too early, and don’t be too late. For most people, Thanksgiving is a casual meal and dinner isn’t necessarily at a set time. If that sounds like the dinner you are going to, ask the host what time you should get there, and try to arrive at that time. Too early and you might be in the way, too late and you might miss out!

2.) Don’t forget to bring your dish! Your host is counting on you!

3.) Offer to help. Lots.

4.) A little hostess gift goes a long way! It seems to be a fading tradition, but hostess gifts used to be the norm. We aren’t talking about extravagant gifts here. Keep it well under $20.00. A bottle of wine or another liquor is usually welcome (assuming he or she drinks). If not, there are lots of other options. A small box of chocolates would be well received in my house! By small, I mean maybe 4 pieces. It’s not a Christmas gift, it’s a simple gift to say “thanks for hosting!!”

Here’s some more of my favorite hostess gift ideas from Etsy:

Left to right:

1.) Salted Carmel in Mason Jars. $10.50

Made by The Caramel Jar, this is the perfect idea for under 20! Who doesn’t love caramel? Not to mention, you could easily make this yourself at home.

2.) Set of 4 Pear Coasters. $19.00

Made by Monika Design. Know how to crochet? Then whip some up in no time! I love coasters as gifts.

3.) Pumpkin Spice Cold Pressed Soap. $5.50

Made by Southern Twisted Soaps. Hand soaps make for a perfect hostess gift. It’s simple, and something that will be used often!

4.) Cardamom Marshmallows. $6.00

Made by Whimsy and Spice. Just a special treat that says “thanks”. Who wouldn’t want these in their hot chocolate?

5.) Downloadable Ornate Script and Antique Graphic. $1.00

Made by Antique Graphique. This is for the DIY crafty type. Download this file and transfer it to anything for your host. A tea towel maybe? Or even just a nice framed picture? I love it. Have fun and let the kids help, too!

6.) White Cotton Tea Towel with Modern Print. $12.00

Made by Milk Haus Design. A soft tea towel with a modern print. I’m in love.

7.) Wine Charms. $10.00

Made by Ella and Tess. Is your hostess a wine drinker? Help her add to (or start) her wine charm collection!

8.) Fruit Slice Trivets. $7.50

Made by Carry 991. These make the cutest kitchen decor!

Follow my Pinterest board to see what else I find for hostess gifts!

I hope this helps you get through your Thanksgiving meal with a little less stress. Just remember, it’s all about spending time with the family. If something (or everything) goes wrong, laugh it up! There’s always next year…..


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  • Jasmine

    Love this post!!!!!!!

    • Rebekah

      Thanks! I hope it’s helpful :)

  • Jessica

    Thanks for this post, Rebekah. I love your gift ideas from etsy too!

    • Rebekah

      There’s so many cute gifts on Etsy, it was hard to pick!

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