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by Lia Blanchard

One of the things that makes Thanksgiving special is that the spirit of thankfulness and bounty is often extended beyond our usual inner circle. Many families have traditions of inviting guests for Thanksgiving dinner that perhaps they don’t know so well, especially if that person would otherwise be alone on the holiday. From your recently widowed plumber to your cousin’s new boyfriend, you may find yourself with more guests at your table than you originally planned for.

Food Tips

Appetizers. Don’t worry about spoiling appetites; if you need to cook extra food at the last minute, putting out a cheese platter, crackers, or nuts and pretzels can buy you some time. If there is no time, don’t be afraid to serve appetizers as a side dish, with the main meal. It’s okay, really!

Beverages. When adding beverages to accommodate extra guests, consider drinks that also fill the belly. A natural for Thanksgiving, of course, is egg nog.

Vegetables. Frozen veggies cook very quickly in the microwave and are easily jazzed up with a few spices. Expand the meal visually by going for a variety of colors.

Meat. To make the same amount of meat feed a larger number of people, cut it into strips. This makes for faster cooking, in addition to making it much easier to distribute evenly. Guests most likely won’t even notice the smaller serving size; if they do, it just adds to the atmosphere of sharing and community.

Dessert.  Ice cream or fruit cocktail are purchased ready-to-serve and provide additional food for everyone’s bellies, not to mention a lovely finished feeling to the meal. Hint: pick up canned whipped cream, too. Whipped cream makes everyday desserts feel festive, and who doesn’t have fun with the canned stuff? This should well complement any dessert you may have already prepared, and the variety will make you a dinner host rock star!

Household Prep

Extra bodies will require a few extras around the house too. Check to ensure that the following items are in adequate supply: toilet paper and hand towels in the bathroom, and napkins and place settings at the table.

If you have a couple of minutes, lighting a few candles and turning on soft music can create a beautiful atmosphere for your guests, rendering any extended wait time unnoticeable while you make the above additions to the menu.

The only thing you really MUST do

Stay calm! A smiling, collected, and gracious host are really all that’s necessary for everyone to have a good time, regardless of anything else. Remember, it’s not about the food; it’s about being together.

Thanksgiving family and friends