10 Tips for Hosting a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Party

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Check your calendar. Thanksgiving is just one week away. If you’re hosting the Big Feast, and you haven’t started planning, the time is now.

But there’s no need to panic. We’ve put together a simple 10-point “Turkey Day To-Do List” — including wine suggestions — that will have you ready to go by Sunday evening. That way, if you’re working on the days leading up to Thursday, you can enjoy the evenings and the not sweat the countdown.

  1. Today or tomorrow, poll your family and guests, and finalize your Thanksgiving menu.
  2. On Friday, pick up your turkey and place it in the freezer. Also pick up all the ingredients you’ll need for the side dishes.
  3. On Saturday, organize all your recipes and decide in what order you’ll cook or otherwise prepare them.
  4. Sunday will be your big prep day. While cooking the turkey, prepare your favorite side dishes (whatever they may be), place them in oven-ready dishes, and either freeze or refrigerate them. That way, on Thanksgiving Day, all you’ll need to do is heat them up.
  5. Now the fun begins — selecting the wines to accompany your meal. Begin by making a list of all your guests, and jot down the types of wine you know each one likes. If you’re not sure about any individual, leave the space next to their name blank for the time being.
  6. Regardless of the number of guests, chances are good that there will be no more than four or five types of wine listed. That’s because that’s all most people ever try.
  7. Chardonnay is almost guaranteed to be on your list, and probably multiple times. If Pinot Noir is not on the list, add it. Pinot Noir is one of the most versatile wines you can have on a Thanksgiving table.
  8. Other wines likely to be on the list include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Moscato. So be sure to have those varieties on hand. Other wines to consider are red blends, white blends, Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
  9. The Thanksgiving meal typically is served family style, and that’s how we suggest presenting the wines as well. If possible, line them up on a separate table with all the wine glasses, and allow your guests to serve themselves. If any guest seems intimidated by all the choices, stand ready to help them.
  10. There are two “go-to” wines for the Big Feast, one white and one red. If a guest is having trouble making a choice and tells you they like white wine, suggest Chardonnay. If they tell you they like red wine, suggest Pinot Noir.

Plan on one bottle of wine for each two or three guests. If you have wine left over, either keep it for yourself as a reward for hosting the Big Feast, or send the bottles home with guests, re-corked and in bags, and remind them to place the bottle in the trunk of their car.

Follow these tips, and you’ll enjoy Thanksgiving just as much as your guests.

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Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes

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