One thing I am very familiar with is hosting a dinner. I love to do it. In fact, I always want to be the one hosting. When Scott and I got married I had a hard time doing family holidays because it was unfamiliar to me. I hadn't lived close to family for the holidays ever. We had quite the time figuring out a schedule that allowed us to do his family and allowed me to keep my traditions, but we have it down now.
I wanted to share some things I have learned to make it easier for you if this is your first year hosting, if you're someone who gets overwhelmed with what needs to happen when, or if you want to see what someone else does!
Deciding on what time you want to eat dinner is essential. You will work back from this point. If you want to eat at 4pm, you can work out what time you need to put the main dish (Turkey, ham, pork) in to cook.
Turkey: 13 minutes per pound at 350°
Whole Ham: 15-18 minutes per pound at 325°
Half Ham: 18-24 minutes per pound at 325°
A turkey needs to rest about 45 minutes, so I will put in the final things to cook during that time so everything is hot and ready to go as soon as the turkey is carved!
Having a plan of what is being served for the dinner is essential. I will write the whole menu out, the amount of time each item will take to cook and about how much prep time is required. I also note if something needs to be refrigerated as well.
Our family does Thanksgiving dinner later in the evening and we have appetizers out for lunch. We enjoy the time in between playing games, doing a little craft and visiting. So I will also plan out what appetizers I am making.
If you do an early Thanksgiving dinner I would suggest doing the opposite of what I do. Have your lunch around 1pm, then do the games, visiting and crafting and then having a few appetizers for dinner.
I do give assignments to guests if they ask what they can bring. If I have others bringing food I will text them three days prior to the dinner to remind them.
I like to have my table set for lunch appetizers by 12, I usually invite my guests to arrive at noon. That lets me watch the parade and get food started without an audience. After lunch is over I will clean up the appetizers and table and set the table about 3:30pm. By setting the table I mean, putting the centerpiece out, making each place setting perfect and getting it ready for everyone to sit at.
I have a post about setting the table coming soon, be on the lookout for it!
Once the meal is over, I will get started putting the leftovers in containers. I will buy inexpensive ones to share with guests as well. The dishes are done while everyone is relaxing. About an hour after dinner I will prep desserts to be served so we are eating around an hour and a half after the meal ends. This gives everyone some time to settle their amazing dinner and start to be ready for a treat. I have found this timing to be the best.
I hope this helps you with your holiday meals and allows you more freedom to be present with those you are celebrating with.