Take the Stress Out of Thanksgiving With These Tips for Hosting the Big Dinner

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cornucopiaHosting Thanksgiving dinner, especially if it’s your first time, can be stressful says Philadelphia-are wedding and events planner Renee Patrone of Events by Renee and Party Host Helpers, who shared these helpful tips with HH6 Camo Chix.

Prepare for more than you invited. Thanksgiving seems to be the holiday where significant others or friends are “orphans,” so you’ll want to be ready when an invited guest arrives with that unexpected plus-one.

Have a ballpark idea of the number of children coming so that you can be ready with kid-friendly seating arrangements and place setting

Pumpkin Pie with Pastry Leaf CrustIf your guests are bringing a dish, do everything in your power to avoid duplicate sides or desserts. If you have two pumpkin pies that were made by two different guests, you may be in for some ruffled feathers, Patrone warns. Thanksgiving has a way of bringing out the competitive nature in home-cooks!

Know your “real” budget for your holiday dinner — not just before you go shopping, but before you issue invitations.  Knowing how many you’ll be serving will help you better  determine what you can serve. Sure, you’ll have turkey, but will it be frozen or fresh? Upgrading from frozen to fresh and/or organic can run you double, even triple the cost, which may be no big deal for a group of six, but if you’re expecting a large group you may need to reconsider.

If any dishes can be made ahead of time, do it. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you have time to visit with your guests instead of spending all your time in the kitchen. Dishes you can make ahead include stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pies.

Make sure every guest has a place. This is especially important when you’re hosting guests who don’t know one another. A simple place card helps guests who don’t know one-another settle in more comfortably and allows you to control the dynamic of the group. The place card can be as simple as a hand-made note crafted by a child, or something a bit fancier, like a personalized mini pumpkin.

Thanksgiving FeastEverything doesn’t have to be homemade. It’s OK (and it saves a ton of time) to purchase ready-to-serve items, especially when it comes to  appetizers, cheese plates, salads, biscuits, that green bean casserole and additional desserts. Reserve the homemade option for the obvious, traditional dishes folks  wait all year long to enjoy, like stuffing, sweet potatoes, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pies. Specialty grocery stores are ideal for picking these items up, Patrone says, adding that in the Philly area DiBruno Brothers, and Carlinos, Rastelli Fresh,are her favorites, as are chains like Trader Joe’sWegman’sWhole Foods and Great Harvest Bread.

Provide disposable to-go containers or ask your guests to bring their own. Half the fun of Thanksgiving is leftovers, so make sure you’re prepped to send some home with your guests.

Want some more tips and ideas? Check out Renee in this FOX 29 Good Day clip where she discusses everything you need to know about hosting Thanksgiving dinner with Good Day’s Jennaphr Frederick.

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