Happier hosts observe the Top 10 Thanksgiving feast commandments

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AURORA – It’s time for the folks who traditionally host Thanksgiving in their homes to ‘fess up.

Admit it: The feast is a beast and you’re already in distress.

You have to organize the gathering, clean the bathrooms, hide the clutter, polish the silver, dig out serving dishes and utensils you haven’t used for a year, make the stuffing and roast the bird, spend a ton on feast necessities, and oversee the serving and cleanup. The hosts finally sit down at the table but many admit they don’t really enjoy the food until they savor the leftovers the next day.

Most Thanksgiving hosts will also admit another truth: They couldn’t imagine NOT hosting the annual feed. They’ve tried going to somebody else’s house or even a fancy restaurant buffet, but the place, the guests and the menu just don’t feel right. More importantly, there are never enough leftovers.

Have you had enough?

If you’re willing to see the light, you can spend next Thursday relaxing and your guests will appreciate your improved mood.

After consultation with multi-year veterans, we offer the Top 10 commandments for hosting a Thanksgiving feast.

1.) Thou shall make a few lists and check off to-do items as you finish them. It may be daunting but detail all the things you need to do and buy as well as the menu and what guests are bringing. This will reduce feast day anxiety without prescription pharmaceuticals.

2.) Thou shall not wait until Thanksgiving eve to clean your house, despite your widely known aversion to dusting. You’ll end up exhausted with a sore back. Granted, you will still have to do a final spiffing before that first knock on your door.

3.) Thou shall not wait until Thanksgiving morning to go grocery shopping. A palpable desperation pervades the supermarket aisles on the morning of Thanksgiving as procrastinators sprint from frozen to canned and back again only to discover they’re out of green bean casserole fixins. Besides, you’ll miss the Macy’s parade.

4.) Thou shall cook and prepare everything possible in the days before the gathering. That means things like putting the can-shaped jellied cranberry sauce in its serving dish and wrapping it in plastic in the fridge. Don’t forget to pull out the serving utensils, candles, tablecloths, etc.

5.) Thou shall provide the venue, the turkey, the stuffing and such but thy guests will bring the rest. When your company asks “Is there anything I can bring?” thou shall say “Yes!” Don’t be afraid to ask them to provide basic stuff like crudites, olives, rolls, wine, cider, coffee, butter and cream. Keep track so you don’t end up with three candied yam and marshmallow casseroles.

6.) Thou shall help thy guests to feel like it’s their Thanksgiving too. Ask them to bring a side dish that was always part of the family feasts when they were growing up and to tell stories about that time.

7.) Thou shall save things that guests can help with, especially the ones who unmercifully arrive early. Let them set the table and make it beautiful. It’ll keep them busy while you tick through the remaining items on your list.

8.) Thou shall say “Thank you” before the big meal as a prayer or an exclamation of gratitude. Drink rousing toasts to those who’ve passed on that you wish were still sitting down to dinner, despite the fact that they always thought the white meat was too dry.

9.) Thou shall invite someone to the feast who doesn’t like to cook but who’s willing to clean up afterwards. That way, when you’re reclined in a coma on the La-Z-Boy on Thursday night, you’re dreams won’t be disturbed by a towering pile of gravy-slicked dishes and pans.

10.) Thou shall honor the leftovers, the very best part of Thanksgiving especially for the host. Don’t listen to the dietary fundamentalists who tell you to make less quantity of fewer fat-free dishes to lessen the leftover temptation. The right thing to do is to make way too much stuffing, turkey, spuds and pie. Have everybody bring their Tupperware and fill it with a selection of goodies.

Then make yourself a turkey, mayo, lettuce and tomato sandwich on white bread and enjoy it while you carefully pack and freeze the rest of the leftovers. On a dark, bitter cold weeknight in January you will be genuinely thankful for those easy-to-heat packets of deliciousness you carefully stowed in November.

To one and all we wish a happy Thanksgiving and a fine feast that can’t be beat.

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