Food: prepare ahead! Make lasagna and freeze, chili or soups, bake or buy some cookies/muffins/croissants. Stock up on chips, salsa, assemble a quick cheese tray, have plenty of wine etc. Find a good deli where you can buy some prepared salads, stuff for sandwiches and buy some pies from local bakery. You do not have to make everything but you should have enough food that lunch or dinner doesn’t stress you out. Eat out at least one meal, your guests really ought to take you out for a dinner. One of my favorite things to get are frozen croissants from Trader Joe’s, they are SO good. Take out night before, lay out to raise and bake the next morning.
Sleeping arrangements: prepare ahead as well. Have their bedrooms/inflatable mattresses/couch prepped as much as possible. Lay out bedding, towels, toiletries.
Entertainment: I’d print out a list of attractions in the area should the guests want to go sightseeing. Plan a trip to the movies or rent something at home. Everyone is thinking of gifts so a trip to outlets wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Dinner time: be it Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hanukkah, involve your guests! Delegate! If they are staying over, have them help out. It creates a more familial, jovial mood. No one enjoys sitting there with a glass of wine when the host and hostess are running around getting everything ready. Easier said than done but it can be as easy as opening a bottle of wine, putting some decorative touches on dishes or folding napkins. If people are coming over, make some recipes that you are familiar with and ask the guests to contribute the rest.
- purchase flowers, wine, non-perishables several days ahead
- make casseroles, cranberry sauce, dessert 1-2 days early
- set the table a day ahead
- set out serving dishes and I like to put a little sticky notes in them (turkey, green beans etc) along with serving forks so I know what goes where.
- run a dishwasher before the dinner and empty it
- make a timetable for the big day: count up from dinner time, figure out what/when something needs to start cooking. Also plan when you can go shower and get dressed!
- have drinks ready and some small appetizers, just crudite or smth like that
- take a minute, be thankful to be celebrating with your loved ones and enjoy the rest of the wonderful meal.
This woman hasnt led me wrong yet. Ina Garten’s make ahead thanksgiving feast.