WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Thanksgiving is only a few days away and no doubt, you're stressed thinking of all you have to do.
Relax, says Westchester Food Blogger Kate Schlientz. The former Sleepy Hollow resident, known for her restaurant recommending and radio show on Fork This with IntoxiKate on 1490 WGCH is s also a “self-proclaimed” event planning guru and has a host of simple tips for a successful holiday.
- Total Up Your Turkey Needs: Let’s face it, when it comes to Thanksgiving, the side dishes all play a supporting role to the star—turkey! And if you don’t have enough, dinner can fall a bit flat. To ensure you have plenty to gobble, estimate about 1 1/2 pounds per person—it guarantees you have enough to go around and leaves some for leftovers.
- Place Your Rental Order: When you host for the holidays, your guest list may outnumber your dining room chairs. And, trust me, no one wants to be assigned to the card table in the family room with the kids. Make sure there’s comfortable seating room by placing a quick call to your local rental company. Not only can they provide tables and chairs, but they can also offer coat racks, chafer dishes, and large coffee makers, making larger scale entertaining a cinch. Two suggestions: Smith Party Rentals in Greenwich, Conn. and Party Line Rentals in Elmsford.
- Do Your Prep Work: There are plenty of things you can tackle ahead of time to make cooking the day of run more smoothly. Boil the potatoes, cut the vegetables, roast the yams—staggering the steps helps cooking run much more smoothly and your cooking stress-free.
- Create a Schedule: Now, this doesn’t mean your timer is going off every 10 minutes, triggering your anxiety to remove another dish from the oven. If you organize your cook times and temperatures, you can create a schedule that will help guide you throughout the day. You can also cut down on cook times by pairing dishes with similar temperatures in the oven. Just don’t forget to account for dishes that may need reheating before dinner.
- Delegate: Whether you channel Martha Stewart in the kitchen or don’t know how to turn the oven on, delegating is key to any great host. If you prefer to cook all on your own, ask guests to bring flowers for the table or wine to share. Or, while you’re tending to the turkey, ask guests to help with hosting tasks. Children can collect coats and adults can pass beverages. Guests truly want to help, and want to enjoy your company, so take them up on their offer.
- Create a Self-Serve Station: When it comes to holidays, friends and family have a variety of tastes. Sometimes you can’t appeal to them all. But it can be an incredibly thoughtful, small gesture to have a few cans of your uncle’s favorite beer on hand. Building a simple, self-serve bar, where guests can help themselves to a beverage, not only takes the responsibility off you, but also allows you to easily accommodate to everyone’s tastes. Bonus Tip: Serve a signature cocktail. Find a recipe that “speaks” to your guests, and clearly label it with a fun name (i.e. "Jeanne’s Julep"). Make several servings ahead of time, and place in pitchers or punch bowls so guests can help themselves. Just make sure someone has an eye on the kids!
- Set Ground Rules: You may have a no-shoe rule in your house, or have a no-cellphone policy at dinner, but not everyone follows the same rules you do. To keep guests happy—and your sanity in check—decide which of your rules you want to stick to and which you can bend for the holiday, and communicate those rules effectively. For example, if you’re sticking to your no-shoe policy, simply remind guests beforehand they are free to bring slippers to the party. In addition, you can provide cozy socks at the front door. If you’d like to maintain a no-cellphone policy, provide a basket labeled “We’re Keeping it Social ~ Please Place Electronic Distractions Here” and keep it out of the dining area.
- Avoid Politics… At All Costs: I’m sure there’s one or two people on your guest list who has infiltrated your Facebook newsfeed with opposing opinions. You don’t need to give the conversation life by bringing it to the dinner table, If politics comes up, simply remind everyone your intention of the day—to focus on friends and family coming together to enjoy one another’s company.
- Enjoy Yourself: Remember—you set the tone for the party, and your guests will feed off your energy. Plan an enjoyable day for yourself (remember to delegate!) and your guests will enjoy themselves too.
For additional Turkey Day tips, visit www.IntoxiKate.com/.
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