How to Host Your First Thanksgiving
A users guide to hosting your first family Thanksgiving created for the clueless, the lazy, and the uninitiated. Follow instructions at your own risk.
Congratulations! You are hosting your first Thanksgiving. This is another step on the road to adulthood. Don’t let the fact that you’ve never cooked a turkey scare you. Try not to think about the fact you have never cooked before at all.
Consider catering. Do you have a friend willing to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for twelve at cost? Have her come the night before, then reheat everything in the morning when your family comes over to “help,” i.e., watch the parade and criticize your food.
What about ordering takeout from Old Country Buffet? Sure, the turkey is pre-sliced and already slathered in gravy, but carving the turkey in front of the family is an overrated tradition anyway.
Watch Food Network. Binge-watch every Thanksgiving episode you can find before the big day. Take notes. Practice pulling the gizzards out of an invisible turkey so that you will know what to do when the time comes. Whatever you do, do not faint.
Surprise your family with pizza. Let the spirit help you decide between delivery or Digiorno. Prepare a selection of game day food and set it in front of the TV. If anyone complains, turn the TV up louder and get involved in whatever football game is on.
Learn to cook the old fashioned way. Dust off a cookbook and attempt to make those classic Thanksgiving recipes that have been served in your family since the dawn of time. Start with mashed potatoes. Only a fool could mess those up. Move on to stuffing, then pie. Save the turkey until you feel comfortable getting fresh with a piece of meat. Refuse to leave the kitchen until you have conquered at least three recipes you will not be embarrassed to serve to people who will judge you for the rest of their lives.
Once you’ve decided on a menu, move on to décor. The quickest way to earn Thanksgiving props is to have a space that is both clean and festive. Forbid any friends to visit you the week before Thanksgiving unless they are willing to don rubber gloves and pretend to be Mr. Clean.
Ideally, you will clean and reorganize your entire house before company comes, but this is you we’re talking about. Stuff offending objects under your bed. Fill your closets with the miscellaneous detritus that has come to symbolize the state of your life. Close the door to nonessential rooms. In case you are wondering, the bathroom is an essential room. Clean it. If possible, empty the medicine cabinet, so the snoops you’re related to won’t know what you’re taking.
Break out the fine china, or in your case, the set of nondescript Bed Bath & Beyond dishes you bought when you graduated from college three years ago. Take a moment to weep for your lost hopes and dreams. Set out every chair, throw pillow, and stool you own. Call up your hazy memory of geometry class, and work out a shape that will seat a group of twelve in a space built for a family of four.
Stand back and admire your work. If the gravy is lumpy and the table wobbly, it’s okay. This is your first Thanksgiving, so most of your family’s criticisms will be behind your back. But, next year, all bets are off.