Planning Your First Thanksgiving
Planning Your First Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is about family and as such, most of us enter our adult lives having at least some concept of where we will be eating for the next several Thanksgivings of our life. We tend to return again and again to the same location we enjoyed our childhood Thanksgivings at, be that Mom and Dad’s place or a close friend or relatives.
But at some point, the onus falls on us to throw Thanksgiving ourselves. Maybe you’ve moved thousands of miles away and traveling home for the holidays just isn’t feasible this year. Or perhaps you’ve just recently gotten married and are hoping to start some family traditions of your own. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to take the reigns this year and cook your own turkey.
The only problem is figuring out what else orchestrating this massive holiday meal involves.
The best place to start is with your guest list. Do you want to keep the festivities small and confined to just immediate family, or do you want to throw a “Friendsgiving” and invite all the stragglers you know who don’t have another place to go? If this is your first Thanksgiving as a married couple, you may also want to consider inviting over each of your families – giving you the perfect opportunity to still spend this time with those you love, without having to split your attention between the two. There are pros and cons to either option, and it really just depends on who you want to spend your holiday with!
Consider changing the day if you want a lot of friends to be involved. Remember, they have families and traditions of their own to attend to. Perhaps the Saturday before or after is a better time to gather everyone together?
Regardless of date, if you decide to opt for a “more the merrier” attitude, the next thing to decide is whether you want to be in charge of all the food prep yourself, or if you want to go for more of a pot luck style, inviting your guests to each bring one of their favorite holiday sides or desserts. If you decide the latter is more in line with your mental image of how the holiday should go, each attendee bringing what they can contribute just as those who attended the first Thanksgiving, then just make sure to maintain a list of what everyone is bringing so that you can avoid duplicates or holes in the meal you envisioned.
From there, start gathering recipes. Pinterest can be great for this, as well as for creating any decorations you may want for the big day. Ask around to friends as well – they may have recipes they swear by that they wouldn’t hesitate to share. you could always ask people what is the one thing their family made that makes it Thanksgiving for them. Of course that item that you assign them to bring!
Start the recipes you can a day or two before. Also remember that cooking a turkey can be a labor of love. It takes time to get it right, so calculate your likely cooking time a day or two before as well in order to ensure you get the bird in the oven early enough. You can do this based on the weight of the turkey, with calculators existing all over the internet to help you guess what you may be in for. A 20 pound bird can take anywhere from 5 and a half to 7 hours to finish cooking, depending on cooking temps and whether or not you stuff it – so the bigger the bird, the earlier you will want to get up and start prepping.
Having a few bottles of wine on hand, as well as some treats to tide people over until the meal is ready, can keep everyone happy and the mood light. Look at this day as an excuse to spend time with the people you love. It doesn’t matter if the meal comes out perfect or if everything is done just right. The real goal of hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner should be to enjoy the company of those you have invited to join you and to remember that they are part of all you have to be thankful for.
It’s time to start your own traditions – so embrace the day and have fun with it!
Here is last year’s “Friendsgiving” which ended up as an engagement proposal as well. Glad I had my camera! Fabulous night thanks to Gary & Logan at Cellar Door.