We are all hearing the Christmas carols playing and seeing all of the holiday displays. But there is one holiday that comes before Christmas. One that requires less shopping but more food. Sometimes I feel like it requires more planning because if you are hosting you need to make sure you have everything you need to feed the crowd. And handle any holiday drama. So here are a few questions that you may have if you are hosting, or even just attending, that you were afraid to ask. I’ve answered them, good, bad or ugly.
- How big of a turkey do I buy for everyone? Here is a good rule of thumb – 1.5 lbs. of turkey per person. So, if you are having 10 people for dinner you need a 15 pound bird.
- How much wine do I need? Well, that depends on how much your family drinks! Just kidding (kind of). My rule of thumb is 2 glasses per person. Consider that 1 bottle has about 5 glasses in it. You would need 1 bottle for every 2 people, or so. If you know that your family will drink more than that, plan to have extra on hand.
- How long do I need to cook the turkey? A good rule of thumb is 15 minutes per pound for an unstuffed turkey. But always check yourself with an instant read thermometer. The internal temperature of the meat should be 165 degrees fahrenheit.
- How should I set the table? Setting the table all depends on what you are serving. I feel that you need a separate salad plate, a main dish plate, water for everyone, a knife, a fork and a napkin. Very simple. Keep decorations on the table to a minimum at dinner time. Let the food be the star.
- Buffet or sit-down? If you are having over 12 people, I would definitely opt for the buffet! Most folks I know, even with a huge dining table, can’t fit more than 12 for a seated meal. We will have 10 adults around my dining table and 6 kids at the kitchen table. If there were any more, we wouldn’t fit and would have to find seating elsewhere. That’s why a buffet would work.
- Should I serve appetizers? Yes. Always. It is just good form for a host to serve appetizers/hors d’oeuvres. But keep it simple so that everyone isn’t full at meal time. Cheese and crackers and crudités will be just fine.
- How should I entertain my guests while I am cooking? This is a tough one. I am a huge fan of putting on movies for the kids. Family football games outside are always a good idea. If there is someone that particularly drives you nuts, “forget” something at the store on purpose and send them on that errand. Get everyone out of your hair if you can so you can focus on cooking. Recruit your favorite family member to be your “wing man” and keep people out of the kitchen. Unless you like people standing over you telling you how to cook on Thanksgiving day.
- How many desserts should I offer? I offer 2. That’s it. Any more than that gets a little overwhelming, for the chef and for the guests.
- Dietary restrictions – how do I deal with them and make everyone happy? This one is easy. Honestly. Don’t make yourself crazy cooking 3 different versions of things just to accommodate everyone. Send out the menu early. And ask folks with objections to make an alternative to offer to everyone. It’s not a restaurant, its a holiday. If you have several family members with the same needs, you have probably already planned your menu according to them.
I hope this helps a little bit! Thanksgiving will be held at our house this year and you can bet I’ll be following these rules.