First Thanksgiving? Consider This Your Stress-Free Guide to Hosting
November 13, 2020 | Blog: The Range

First Thanksgiving? Consider This Your Stress-Free Guide to Hosting

Nothing says "grown-up" like hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, or maybe it’s a quarantine bubble friendsgiving. And, boy, did you pick a weird year to do it. To make things run smoothly and safely this Thanksgiving, you might need a little more than your mom’s best pie recipes. So in addition to your usual get-dinner-on-the-table tips, here’s our guide for hosting a 2020 Thanksgiving that’s both safe and enjoyable.

Start cooking early… like days early

If you really want Thanksgiving to be stress-free, set yourself up for a day (mostly) outside of the kitchen. Pies, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and most side dishes can be made at least a day in advance. ALSO, make sure that turkey is defrosted so you don’t have to pull the old takeout-on-the-nice-plates move. 

Set an oven schedule 

Between the turkey and the six different casseroles, your oven will probably be working overtime. To successfully organize Thanksgiving dinner, you may need to be a little extra about your oven schedule. Make a list of everything that needs to go in the oven on the big day, plus the temps and cook times they’ll need. Figure out what dishes can go in together, and set a schedule.  Don’t forget to ask guests if their dishes will need any oven time!

Have apps on hand

Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving unless your brother-in-law is an hour late, or the turkey takes way longer to cook than you thought. Whatever happens, count on dinner being at least a little late and have some appetizers on hand for everyone to enjoy throughout the day. Deviled eggs, mixed nuts, and Country Archer antibiotic-free turkey jerky or rosemary turkey sticks are great options. They’re all high-protein, on-theme, and they’ll prevent hangriness without leaving you too full for the big meal. Or, up your game with a charcuterie board. Just keep it safe! 

Go for a (smaller?) antibiotic-free turkey

Fifteen pound turkeys are not obligatory. You’re probably having a smaller-than-usual gathering this year, so adjust accordingly. In general, go for 1 to 1.5 lbs (including bones) per person. Another turkey buying tip? That “antibiotic-free” turkey is worth it. Raising turkeys – or any meat for that matter – without antibiotics helps prevent dangerous antibiotic resistance. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

For Virtual Thanksgivings

Host a virtual parade/ football watch party

If the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and afternoon Cowboys game are traditions for your family, don’t give them up just because you can’t get together. Zoom it up, and find ways to make it fun! Pinterest is full of Thanksgiving Parade Bingo cards for kids, and adults can have fun making their own commentary – the saltier, the better.

Play virtual family trivia

If there’s anything we’ve learned this year it’s that virtual “parties” need a little extra planning to be fun.  Kahoot is a simple little quiz game that works well remotely and is actually surprisingly fun if you’ve got the right topic. You can use one of the many Thanksgiving themed quizzes, or better yet, create your own quiz that’s tailored to your friends and family. Topics can be anything from favorite family memories to a show you all love.

“Share” at least one dish

To feel a little more connected, pick one dish or dessert (preferably one of those classic family recipes) that you’ll all cook or buy. Eat it at the same time and have fun trying to judge whose version turned out the best. It doesn’t beat fighting over the last serving in person, but it may help you feel like at last one thing is normal this year.

For socially-distanced Thanksgivings

Social-distance your seating arrangements

If weather and your living situation allow, an outdoor dinner can make Thanksgiving dinner a little safer. Sweep that porch, pick up some plastic tablecloths, and take your dining set up outdoors! Just not possible? Utilize living room space as well as your usual kitchen or dining room to help space out your eating spots. Cute Thanksgiving-themed name cards can make it seem a little more festive and a little less pandemic-related. 

Strategize your serving

It may feel weird, but it’s probably a good idea to ask everyone to wash their hands, mask up, and not crowd around the counters as they load up their plates. If you’re celebrating with medically vulnerable friends or fam, make sure they get their food first. Who knows when your five-year old nephew is going to sneeze into the green beans, right? 

Pull this off, and you just may finally feel like you’re really adulting. One last tip? Get your grocery shopping done early, and stock up on non-perishables now. You don’t want to be standing in line for a grocery store that’s at capacity. Snag our turkey jerky and turkey sticks on our website or Amazon now to round out your appetizer plate!

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