The National Retail Federation predicts a big bump in shopping for the 2019 holidays. Retail spending in November and December is forecast to grow between 3.8% to 4.2% from last year. Whether you’re planning to host a large gathering or a smaller party in a corporate rental, here are some tips to help you prepare for the influx of guests.
Make a list
Having a detailed list ensures you don’t forget anything. Write down expected expenses for the meal: turkey, beverages, holiday decor, and dessert. Savvy shoppers can use apps on their smartphones to help find sales and the best deals on food and decorations. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates this year’s feast will cost about $5 per person or under $50 for dinner for 10. Your corporate apartment has a full kitchen allowing you to gather what you need in advance and store the items.
Thaw the turkey in advance
Hosting Thanksgiving can be a daunting task, no matter how well you prepare. One of the biggest stressors is turkey. The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line gets thousands of calls each year from people struggling with the bird. The typical problem? They forgot to thaw the turkey, which can take up to five days. Pro tip: Do NOT thaw the turkey on the countertop or in the kitchen sink. Bacteria starts to grow on poultry when it reaches room temperature, so you run the risk of serious food poisoning! Instead, place it in the refrigerator and let it thaw out over the course of several days.
Keep appetizers simple
This is not the time for fancy canapes or spinach crepe cups. While appetizers keep your guests busy while you finish the final preparations, you don’t want to use up all your energy on the hors d’oeuvres. You also want your guests to be hungry enough to enjoy dinner. Try a cheese board or cheese ball with some crackers or pita chips.
Have others pitch in and start early
Just because you’re hosting a dinner at your corporate rental doesn’t mean you should do all the work alone. Recruit people to help out. After all, Thanksgiving dinner with family or friends is typically a potluck where guests bring a dish to pass. It’s best for the host to cook the turkey, but have guests bring the green bean casserole, potatoes, salad, and cranberry sauce. An important tip that will save your sanity on Thanksgiving morning? Prepare as much food as possible ahead of time. If you’re in charge of the stuffing, chop the vegetables and other items a day or two before so you can cut down on the workload Thanksgiving morning.
Don’t try anything new
Stick to the classics. Thanksgiving dinner is not the time to begin experimenting with new dishes. Stick to tried-and-true favorites from grandma’s or mom’s cookbook. If you really want to try out a recipe you saw on the Food Network, cook the dish several times before the big day, so you have perfected it.
The dinner table sets the mood. Wow your guests with an elegant tablescape incorporated with autumn hues. Complete the tablescape with a dazzling centerpiece infused with lights and fall flowers. Setting the table the night before will help eliminate the headache of trying to do it that morning.
Don’t forget the pumpkin
What is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? Use the pumpkin you saved from Halloween to make the puree for the classic dessert. Serve the pie with other traditional favorites such as apple or sweet potato pies, or cakes and cookies to give your guests a variety of choices. It is perfectly fine to buy some of the desserts from a bakery.
Thanksgiving is filled with traditions: parades while the turkey bakes in the oven, and football afterward. But once the parades and football games are over, make sure you have entertainment planned to keep the party going. Set up a TV in another room where kids can play video games. Karaoke is always fun — just remember to keep the noise down, so you don’t disturb your neighbors. Watching movies and playing board games are also great options.
While hosting the holidays can be challenging, the payoff is rewarding. You get to spend time with your family and friends, and that is priceless.
Patty Osborn is a writer and food junkie. She spends much of her time cooking gourmet meals and searching for restaurants that can compete with her home cooking. She grows most of her own herbs and vegetables.