Tips for Surviving when you are Hosting a Holiday Meal

Well, it’s official, we are hosting Thanksgiving this year. I’m not brave enough to commit to hosting a holiday meal annually – it may be an epic fail – but, I must say, being the official host for Thanksgiving feels like some strange parenting rite of passage. The crux is, we have 3 kids and an additional 3 cousins – all under the age of 8! A day of cooking and celebrating is not so easy with kids under foot. I really do want to enjoy the holiday dinner while it’s still hot (okay, I’ll settle for warm). Am I asking too much? Maybe. I did a little brainstorming (and soul searching) and came up with a plan of attack. Fingers crossed, I hope it works (at least a little). I really just hope the kids’ shenanigans don’t get the best of my patience nor the holiday remoulade.

Hosting a Holiday Meal Raleigh Moms Blog

Plan, Plan, Plan – plan the menu, plan the shopping, and make a schedule for the day. Decide on the desired meal-time and work backwards. Make a cooking schedule based on how long your main entrée will take. Make cold items (salads, deserts, etc.) or items that can be easily reheated the day before. 

Outsource some of the cooking. Send your menu plan to invited guests and ask them to select an item for preparation or add food dishes they would like to make. Decide if it will be prepared at their house or yours and plan for the extra needed kitchen/oven space. Consider buying some pre-made items from a local restaurant, grocery store, personal Chef or local catering service. Maybe you have just had a baby or you have been traveling a lot for work, you deserve a little help.  

Make room for memories! Have a plan for taking pictures and/or making a journal of the day. Make sure your camera or smart-phone is fully charged and free up plenty of space for snapping pictures. Take pictures of the preparation as well as the celebration. Take candid and posed shots. Take a few steps back and get pictures of the whole scene. 

Delegate picture taking to the kids! Give them an old or used point-and-shoot. You may get lots of pics of the floor or ceiling, but that is the beauty about the digital age – you can delete those ‘oops’ pictures and keep…well, the ‘keepers’. You may be surprised how cute pictures are from your kids’ 3-foot high perspective of the world. Remind them to hold the camera underneath with one hand, while the other hand pushes the button, thus preventing pictures with fingers in frame. 

Plan a holiday-related craft for the kids. Or, better yet, ask a favorite aunt or uncle to take charge and be the project planner. I have one rule – ‘No permanent markers’. Otherwise, go hog wild! Holiday felt projects are my favorite! Local craft stores carry nice thick holiday stickers that are easier for little fingers to get a hold of.

Create a photo-booth. Help your kids to build and operate a photo booth for the family. You can buy inexpensive props at a craft store or on-line or even ask friends and family to bring their own. Let your kids have fun, be creative, and capture some great family memories! 

Finally, back to the part about sitting down to enjoy your own dinner…feed the kids first! Then, surprise them with a newly released movie or DVD right before the rest of the family sits down for dinner. Voila! Dinner is served! And the kids are entertained (for the moment). 

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year or going somewhere? Any other tips out there? I would LOVE (really please) to hear them! Happy Holidays!!  


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