Although it may be daunting to cook for a tableful of people, Thanksgiving can actually be the least stressful of the upcoming holidays. Rebekah Johnson, founder of Bergner & Johnson Design, offers five great entertaining tips to help avoid stress on Turkey Day.
No. 1: Keep Decor Simple
Save time to accomplish other things and don't dedicate too much time to decorating for your dinner. Johnson says to keep things simple and suggests decorating the table with baby pumpkins and vases with autumn colored tulips.
"I am very enamored with all of the new varieties and colors of pumpkins," she says, "so I use them by my front door piled up with lots of candles on my porch and in my yard." If decorating for your Thanksgiving dinner seems too overwhelming, Johnson suggests "calling a professional to send over some simple arrangements to place in the key areas."
No. 2: Plan the Meal Ahead and Do Your Prep Early
Johnson advises to dedicate time to carefully planning your menu, although says to remember not to be over-ambitious. "Don't try and make too many dishes unless you have a staff of prep chefs or you'll just end up exhausted," she says.
You can also save time by doing any necessary prep in advance to avoid a marathon of chopping and peeling on the morning of.
No. 3: Accept Help from Friends and Family
Although you may have rebuffed assistance in years past, don't be afraid to accept help from friends and family when planning your Thanksgiving dinner. "If they want to bring a dish, let them bring it, even if it doesn't fit in with your Martha Stewart ideas of a perfect menu," Johnson says.
"I've given up fighting my aunt about her Jello marshmallow salad and now rather expect it as part of the day," she adds. "Remember, if you put Jello salad in a lovely container it becomes something else visually."
In case your guests don't want to bring something, Johnson suggests buying side items from the grocery store or catering pantry and serving them as if you slaved over the dishes for hours.
No. 4: Share the Wealth of Leftovers
Although guests might not want to think about eating ever again after a huge Thanksgiving feast, Johnson says guests will regret not taking leftovers home. "Have some takeaway containers so you can easily send food home with guests," she suggests, adding that having two containers — one for savory food and another for sweets — is an excellent idea.
No. 5: Have a Plan for Beverages
Johnson suggests preparing a fun, light cocktail to serve guests upon arrival. "Something with a hint of sage or rosemary can be a pleasant surprise," she says.
Also, be prepared for different tastes by having champagne, white wine and red wine on hand. "I usually talk to one of the wine experts at Spec's to get suggestions on wines that will pair well with the menu," Johnson adds.