Whether you’re hosting a holiday meal for four or twenty-four, hosting for the holidays can be stressful. Here are some simple, practical, and tried-and-true tips on how to host a less stressful holiday meal this Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and beyond!
This post is sponsored by Walmart and contains affiliate links. Click links to easily shop for tabletop decor, holiday decor, and food preparation dishes! I’ve linked them for you throughout the post.
Walmart is a fantastic one-stop shop to make your home guest-ready this season! I bought all of my Thanksgiving meal prep dishes online from Walmart Home and had them shipped to my door. Walmart offers free 2-day shipping on most orders over $35 and offers a fantastic 90-day return policy on most items. From dishes, to roasting pan, to meat thermometer, I’ve tested out some kitchenware and will link my top recommendations in the post!
Tip 1: Plan your menu in advance and don’t be scared to utilize meal prep shortcuts.
Write down your menu with pen and paper and think through the timeline for each dish. I often create:
- a written menu
- written shopping list for all items on the menu needed
- table setting shopping list (flowers, dishes, candles, etc.)
- written timeline/calendar for meal prep
- task checklist for day of event
- list of what food goes in which platter
If time is money, then spending a bit more upfront on semi-prepared food might just be worth it this holiday season! Cut corners where needed to keep things manageable and less stressful. Pre-cooked turkeys, frozen cooked potatoes (that can be heated and doctored up to your liking), pre-chopped veggies, and bakery pies and rolls are just a few simple ways to cut down on your meal prep time! You can also create many side dishes, desserts, and appetizers ahead of time.
Shop Walmart: Faux Leather Leggings | Black Suede Booties | Roasting Pan | 20 Piece Dishtowel Set BHG Candle | Butter Dish | Red Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven | Red Kitchenaid Mixer | Glass Lidded Jars
Tip 2: Keep meat stress to a minimum. Defrost your turkey and buy a meat thermometer!
Two of the most common stressors around Thanksgiving dinner have to do with turkey prep! Either the turkey is not defrosted in time, or it is overcooked in the oven. These two stressors can be completely eliminated with proper planning. Depending on the weight of your bird, frozen turkeys need several days (yes DAYS!!) to defrost in the refrigerator. You will need 24 hours of defrosting time for every 4 to 5 pounds of bird. Defrosting your turkey at room temperature is not advised due to the high chance of portions of the bird rising above a safe 40º and breeding bacteria. Turkey can be defrosted more quickly in a bath of cold water, but the refrigerator method is the safest. No one wants to serve up a side of food poisoning over the holidays, so be sure to leave yourself an appropriate amount of time to defrost your turkey.
Using a decent heat thermometer is a fantastic way to ensure your meat is cooked to your liking! I just bought the Expert Grill Wireless Digital BBQ Grilling Thermometer and love it. It comes with pre-programmed temperature recommendations for your meat that you can edit if needed according to your recipe directions. It also has a programmable timer and belt clip, so you won’t forget when to check on your meat! This would make the perfect Christmas gift for the grill master and is just an all-around great kitchen gadget to have on hand.
Shop Walmart: Expert Grill Wireless Digital BBQ Grilling Thermometer | Red Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven | Roasting Pan
Tip 3: Make sure you have the necessary pans, dishes, utensils, platters, and cookware for the job.
Now is the perfect excuse to take inventory of your kitchenware and upgrade, replace, or purchase any needed items. My previous roasting pan was the same one I received when married back in 1999. It is safe to say that the pan had seen better days and was ready for an upgrade! I bought this 2-Piece Turkey Roaster and V Rack and highly recommend it! The teflon coating cleaned up like a dream with minimal, to no soaking necessary.
Shop Walmart: Roasting Pan | 20 Piece Dish Towel Set | BHG Candle | Red Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven | Red Kitchenaid Mixer | Glass Lidded Jars
I was also in need of new potholders and kitchen rags. This 20 Piece Dish Towel Set comes in several colors and is so affordable! I actually used the plain white tea towels in this set for my napkins.
Tip 4: Set the table in advance.
When entertaining, I like to set my table the day before guests arrive if possible. Creating beautiful table settings is something I enjoy and getting the task out of the way before food prep is always helpful. If entertaining a crowd of six or more, I prefer to create place cards with assigned seating. You know your guests best! Circumvent stressful situations and foster positive conversations by placing people around your table where you think they might most enjoy themselves.
Shop Walmart: Farmhouse Table | Gap Blue Stoneware Dishes | Rose Gold Silverware | White Tea Towels as Napkins | Plaid Tablecloth | Wood Acacia Tray |White Cake Stand | Red Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
I used my Gap Blue Stoneware Dishes on this table with my Rose Gold Silverware and love how simple, clean, and festive it all looks!
I plated the turkey on my BHG Wood Acacia Tray. I did remove it when carving but it made such an impressive display and centerpiece!
Tip 5: If creating table centerpieces adds stress, simply keep table decor, clean, beautiful, and simple!
Not every tablescape you create has to be elaborate! Keep things clean and simple and let your styled food and dishware be the star of the show. For this small gathering of four, I used my turkey as the centerpiece. Once the turkey is carved and served, remove it from the centerpiece, and stick a few additional candles in its place. A runner consisting of candles and seasonal greenery is always beautiful and simple to create!
Use your dishware as part of your table decor. Beautiful serving dishes like the Red Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven and BHG Wood Acacia Tray add beauty to the table without any extra effort on your part!
Tip 6: Say yes to guest offers for help!
My extended family celebrates Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and 4th of July together. We consist of at least 16 people and my mom is the hostess with the mostest. She is an AMAZING hostess and has taught me most of what I know about entertaining. She delegates tasks when and where necessary and asks family members to help set-up, clean up, and prep drinks and food.
When entertaining crowds beyond family, you may feel less comfortable accepting offers of help. Do it anyway! Allow guests to bring wine, beer, drinks, appetizers, bread, and desserts. These are easy items for others to contribute and take the stress off of you.
Tip 7: If serving food buffet-style, place the meat at end of the line.
Turkey leftovers are one of the great joys of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but what if you didn’t plan right? This ten pound turkey was more than enough for my table of four; however, if you’re trying to cut the costs of feeding a large crowd, or just trying to ensure you have enough meat, try this tip!
Place your meat at the very end of your buffet line. Guests will often pile their plates high with sides leaving little room on the plate for whatever is last. By placing your more costly items at the end of the line you can spread resources a bit better! Also, when buying turkey, it’s a good idea to plan for at least one pound of turkey per person.
Tip 8: Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be amazing and memorable!
A relaxed, friendly, and calm hostess is always preferable to a stressed, grouchy and frazzled one! Take on only what you can handle and let go of the rest. If entertaining mishaps happen along the way, brush them off and simply cheers to a memorable evening. You’ve got this!
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