Lunchtime poll – festively freaked out
November 22nd, 2010
12:30 PM ET
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Inhale pink...exhale blue...

And again, deeeeeep breaths and repeat to yourself over and over, "It's only a meal. It's only a meal. It's only a meal."

Even some of the most experienced and skillful hosts we know are showing signs of pre-Thanksgiving stress, posting Facebook status updates detailing obsessive preparation, and calling guests to confirm, re-confirm, then re-re-confirm the dishes they're bringing - almost down to the ounce.

We've been doing our darndest to make folks less stressed about holiday hosting, but are beginning to suspect that some folks delight in the drama.

And remember – we'll be live-blogging from Wednesday evening through Thursday mealtime, offering kitchen and hosting advice or offering a supportive shoulder and a laugh if you need it. Just leave a note in the comments or reach out on Twitter @eatocracy and we'll do our best to help you keep calm and carry on.

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Filed under: Buzz • Holidays • HolidayShopping • Lunchtime Poll • Thanksgiving

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Amber

    I am hosting my largest party ever! I am 32years young and have served many years worth of Turkey... but this year our fame has risen drastically! We have over a hundred people confirmed to come, and most are bringing friends! I am serving them all dinner, then after that we have a full bar and DJ set up! We decided to set up 400sq feet of tents outside and a stage... so far this party has cost us over $1000 not including food. To help with the cost we have asked guests to bring a covered dish, but we are providing two large turkeys, two large Hams, and an array of other dishes and desserts. Now it is down to the wire... Some of the people who offered to help (bring chairs, extension cords, wood for the fire) are not pulling through. I have a feeling they will pop in at the last minute, which destroys my plans.

    Monday – set up tents and hardware
    Tuesday – run wiring and prep food
    Wednesday – pre cook dishes that can be pre cooked
    Thursday – put out decorations and warm/cook food.

    It is now Tuesday... Tents are up... but can't run wiring because it is not here... SO MUCH FOR PLANS!!!

    November 23, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  2. Lex

    I guess I'm lucky that I come from a super laidback family. Dinner's supposed to be at 3:30, but no one will notice (or care) if we don't eat until 5. The vegan (me) brings most of their own food but leaves the infamous soapbox at home, and the rest of the family tries to be accomodating (because they're nice) with sides. There's no stress. Nothing falls on any one person, and no one expects Martha Stewart levels of perfection. If it's edible, it's good. Show up in your pajamas if you want, there's plent of turkey (and tofurky) for everyone.

    November 22, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  3. Mitchell

    Remember what happened the day after the first "thanksgiving"? Someone remind me why this is a holiday.

    November 22, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
  4. Belle

    Brag Brag...whine whine...not a single comment on being grateful for the family that gets on your nerves, the hectic cooking, planning & clean up, the day off from work, all that food & drink most of which goes in the trash next day or two...does anyone have any idea how many people around the world would give an arm and a leg for a small portion of the opportunity Thanksgiving would be for them: Food, shelter – enough to use and spare??? Grow up people!

    November 22, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
    • Snowbunny

      You need a stiff one and I don't mean a drink!

      November 23, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  5. schatziq

    I don't know what all the fuss is about. I'm actually excited, not stressed, about having a group of people to my home who I want to spend time with. Do you think they really care if the dishes and servers match perfectly? That the wine is the exact right vintage for the meal? That the meal is cooked and served at exactly the right time? Chances are they don't. I'll pour them a drink, we'll all get talking and the meal will be an afterthought. And anything that doesn't go as "planned" will be just another excuse to laugh and make a funny story to retell and enjoy later on. I seriously can't wait for Thursday and I haven't even begun to clean my house yet!

    November 22, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
    • Belle

      :) YOU GET IT!!

      November 22, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  6. mar

    you drink enough everything is perfect

    November 22, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  7. MaryAnn Pauley

    Nothing to stress out's just another meal.....a BIG MEAL! I just follow my usual procedure.....something brown–turkey–something–green–broccoli–something white–mashed yukon gold potatoes!!! But I've added other colors of red, orange, yellow, & purple.......since it's a holiday!!! HAPPY TURKEY DAY!

    November 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  8. Sarah

    The best Thanksgiving is still the first one I hosted- and everything went wrong. I didn't thaw out the turkey in time so my roommate (who got dumped by her boyfriend the night before) and I pulled out our hair dryers. It worked to a point until the lights went out. We blew a circuit where half our apartment didn't have power. Thank god, the oven worked. My mom kept calling to try to micro-manage but I wouldn't admit that I was drowning. I walked to the liquor store and when everyone walked in we lit candles for ambience, got everyone drunk so they wouldn't notice the turkey taking an extra 4 hours, and kept feeding them rolls. But by the time the food was done, that turkey was to die for. My family usually makes me cook the turkey since that day because it was so good. I think the little problems actually makes the food taste better.

    November 22, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
    • Snowbunny

      That's super funny!! Good luck this year. :)

      November 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  9. David M

    If you're stressing, why do it? Honestly, I think a lot of people say they are stressed because they like to keep the drama factor up. Personally, I'll cook the meal and when it's ready, we'll eat and be thankful for all that we have. Before eating, we'll chow on snacks. Afterwards we'll watch a movie or some football. Go Patriots! As for stress....not allowed.

    November 22, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  10. Carol

    easiest meal in the year to prepare. Pies [4] made day before as well as stuffing and jello. Bird goes in oven, peel potatoes, eat some snacks, talk, drink wine. Brother opens oven every hour and announces "Earth Tones"! Football, music, movies. Cook and mash potatoes while turkey rests, make gravy and cook vegies. EAT

    November 22, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  11. Bill

    My parents in KY are elderly an unable to prepare the feast. I'm in TX and can't take it with me Wednesday. My sister is taking care of my parents. My niece is pregnant and due to deliver any time. Solution? I fly into Nashville Wednesday evening. Thursday morning, I pick up dinner for 12 at Cracker Barrel. We all feast and no one is stressed.

    November 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  12. Michele

    Hmmm... Thanksgiving. What day is that again?

    November 22, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  13. Nick

    Just found out that my uncle who is suppose to have it can't anymore, so now it comes back to our house and my mom is freaking out!! Classic logistical error

    November 22, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  14. Jim

    I'm in the slam dunk category. I've had my grocery list on the computer for years. At 5 am on Wednesday I go to the grocery store (where I'm the only one there and I have three clerks at my beck and call), home by 6:30. Then I make the turkey stock, cranberry sauce, pumpkin (from actual pumpkins), pecan and cran-raspberry pies. Turkey and dressing prep starts on 8:30 on Thursday, turkey in at 10:30, out at 4:30, sides in. Gravy and carving at 5 pm. We eat at 5:30. Piece o' cake.

    November 22, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
    • Snowbunny

      Wow Jim~ I'm impressed. HA! You go!

      November 23, 2010 at 12:54 pm |
  15. Erin

    My mom is hosting the family this year. We'll have a small group of around 35 as opposed to the usual crowd of over 50. Traditionally everyone in our family brings a dish so the host only has to handle the bird and few side dishes/desserts. Really the only thing mom tends to get stressed about is getting everything ready in time. She rents tables, chairs, and dishes for parties this large so we have to budget time to pick those up on top of getting everything cooked on time. I always come home on Wednesday so I can help out as needed. I just have to make time to hit a beer store down here in PA before my drive home so I can bring some delicious Yuengling for the family.

    November 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  16. Old Pro

    I've been preparing Thanksgiving dinner (except dessert) for 20 years now. I always take a day or two off of work for cooking. This year I'm also doing the desserts as well. I love hosting Thanksgiving and have it down to a science. I serve Buffet style so everything is ready to go when guests arrive. Last year was a bit stressful because I had guests that arrived a few hours early and I wasn't prepared, but my husband made Bloody Mary's while I continued my work and the early arrivals wound up tipsy but content.

    November 22, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  17. Susan

    You just need to understand that the people coming over are coming to you because they like you, not because you're giving yourself an ulcer about a meal (okay, they're not coming to see me, they're coming to see the baby). If something doesn't work out perfectly don't worry about it. Order a pizza (or Chinese takeout). We'll eat what is ready and we'll get to the rest when it's ready and besides, we'll be watching the football game so who really cares? I know I"ll cook a good meal – just have confidence.

    November 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      You can't see it, but I'm standing here clapping. That is EXACTLY what I've been trying to convey. The guests are, ideally ON YOUR SIDE!

      November 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  18. Fred

    Have 18 family members coming over for TDay so I gave them each a dish to make. My neice said "so, for the relish tray do you want sweet or dill?" Should be a blast!!

    November 22, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
    • KinNY

      That's a good one.

      November 22, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  19. Tim

    We have 5 people, a 20-lb bird and a over a dozen bottles of the best of Napa and Sonoma wines and French bad can that be??

    November 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
    • Susan

      Tim – the heck with the 12 (plus 2 babies) at my house – I'm coming over to you – pour me a glass please!

      November 22, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
  20. Sarah Joe

    My Thankgiving just today went from a small 5 person (no one under 50) dinner to a 18 person (Children's table needed) full-blown drama-fest. My husband just says breathe deep, and we will take Wednesday off work to prepare!

    November 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
    • Amanda

      I think Wednesday should also be a National Holiday.

      November 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
      • Snowbunny

        I agree Amanda. Personally I think Christmas Eve should be too. I don't mean to start anything here and hope I don't. :(

        November 23, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
  21. Andrea M

    I'll probably be going to the biggest family thanksgiving I've ever been to this year in Nebraska. I already miss last year where I just gathered at a club with some friends and did it pot luck style. I cooked the free turkey my work gives me, other people brought sides, and one fine gent brought pot brownies instead of pie. Switch out the pinot noir for long islands and we were all great!

    November 22, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
  22. R. King

    I've been doing this for about 12 years now, with as many as 11 guests some years. I've got it down.

    I rely on lots of planning, starting two weeks before the event, putting together a menu and finding my less common ingredients.

    The week before the event I have the menu finalized and the shopping lists made (some stuff I get the weekend before, some a day or two before and the perishable stuff like artisan breads and seafood the day before.) I always cook a fresh turkey, eliminating the stress of having to thaw a rock-hard deep-frozen bird.

    I also make a BIG batch of chicken stock (MUCH better than the store-bought stuff, and its as easy as boiling water.) Since so much of what I make uses chicken stock (the stuffing/dressing, several of the sides, and the gravy,) I make about two gallons two weeks before and freeze it until I need it.

    The weekend before I make a timeline. Some things like pies are done two days before, the casseroles are done the day before, etc...

    The meal itself is done in the evening instead of the afternoon. That gives us plenty of time to relax and visit with our guests (and yes, I include the hors d'oeuvres in my meal planing.) The extra few hours that gives us really lowers the stress levels.

    The day before I make sure I have everything so I don't have to try to find a supermarket that's open on Thanksgiving. I clean the kitchen, set the table for tomorrow, and make sure all the dishes have been cleaned (dirty dishes take up too much room in the kitchen!)

    That morning, there's really not all that much to do. The lion's share of cooking happened Tuesday and Wednesday and only need reheating. The turkey gets brined in the morning, and starts roasting in the afternoon. After the turkey is done, the sides are cooked and/or reheated.

    The secret is planning ans spreading out all the work over several days.

    November 22, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  23. Caroline

    I was stressing about venturing into the lions cage that is commonly know as my family gatherings, until I read what NCJ's family is going through. NCJ, you and your Mom need a hug and a beer. Cheers to you and I hope you have a nice peaceful holiday. Me, I'll once again be sitting in stunned silence that I am actually related to these crazy people.

    November 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  24. sheryl drake

    I love the holidays! My husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving this year. Unfortunately it appears that my family has lost focus on being thankful for all of us getting together and would rather ankle bite about the location, food they are bringing, the guest list, on and on.....I am thinking about donating our food to a homeless shelter and calling it least people at the shelter would be grateful to have a hot meal......

    November 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • becky

      I hear you! Have a few (dozen) glasses of wine, eat up, throw everyone out and take a nap.

      November 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  25. Kyaru

    I like to celebrate thanksgiving the the old fashioned way traditionally. I invite all my neighbors from the neighborhood and we all have a big feast then i slaughter them all and take their land :)

    November 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
    • Well Read

      I prefer to give my neighbors diseases they have no immunity to. We're very traditional in or neigborhood too.

      November 22, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
  26. LP

    Could do this blindfolded!
    I'll have 4 cooks in my kitchen starting Wednesday to get the pies and some of the side dishes done. Thursday morning all attention is on the turkey. We eat around 1:00, then go for a nice long walk to work some of it off, and in the evening go to friends' for pies and mulled cider.
    No sweat here, as the menu and lists have been made for a couple of weeks now. It's all in being organized . . . and not expecting perfection!

    November 22, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • Amanda

      Totally agree with not expecting perfection! I think people concentrate on the little, tiny, non-noticable mistakes too much.

      November 22, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  27. ADW

    i'm getting out of cooking this year. going to surprise my mother at the Mayo clinic MN. but i've never had a problem cooking the whole meal. just a very long day, with allot of wine.

    November 22, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  28. Sarah michele

    The hard part of T-day is not the cooking, it's dealing with the family, who usually comes for several days – so many other meals involved as well. Plus the dysfunction - the cooking is a piece of cake! and I usually cook for about 15 – but luckily this year, we have been invited to friends and don't have to cook or travel - whoa whoa!

    November 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
    • Jerv

      So true.

      November 22, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
    • Amanda

      I agree, I love my family, don't get me wrong, but I think my sister has a better idea...she spends Thanskgiving on a remote island with her husband. We may start doing that :)

      November 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
      • Snowbunny

        Ah man.... I'm in!

        November 23, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  29. Amanda

    My mother tends to obsess and over-exaggerate every situation, Thanksgiving is just another would-be catastrophe for her. So this year, I'm doing the meal. All of it. Even the pies, although she insisted on bringing the pecan. It's really not that stressful! I'm cooking for about 20 people, I made sure I had all of the ingredients this weekend and made the pie dough... I'm not too worried.

    November 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  30. NCJ

    My mother is supposed to be hosting for my grandparents, my (soon to be divorced) aunt and her two children, myself and fiancee, and my sister. Unfortunately my uncle (father's brother) passed away today after a long fight with cancer, my father was out of town with him for the last week and is assisting with funeral arrangements, my grandmother had surgery last week, and my uncle (my mother's brother) had a burst appendix that went septic last week. We are in freak out mode, but not due to thanksgiving. I think that having a specific goal and being able to control the situation with the food might be somewhat thereputic. I have already taken over the appetisers and the deserts, leaving her with just the main dishes (she insists on that) but I just know something is going to melt down!

    Wish me luck!

    November 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
    • NCJ

      and yes, I know I can't spell today... it is stress, I swear! *or I just suck at spelling, either way :)

      November 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
    • Jim

      Dear NCJ,

      Wow you've been through a lot. Never mind the dinner, I'd just be worrying about what's next?

      November 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  31. Marie

    Is it just me, or does the turkey in that photo look like it's coated with DOT orange paint?

    November 22, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • dcjbmom

      i was thinking the same thing! whoever prepped that bird is colorblind

      November 22, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
      • Jerv

        Yikes, gross.

        November 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
    • bdoran

      Or the fact that the body cavity is completely missing.... it is a horrid plastic replica. Thank "Thinkstock" and CNN for not having the balls to go with a decent stock image. And the wives expression is "so casual"

      November 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
  32. lisa r

    @truth, dude, no offense meant by any means, but your handle needs to be ....truth; my wife is asian. lol

    November 22, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  33. Truth

    My wife is Asian, and so Thanksgiving is a new concept for her, so I will cook for the two of us.
    I have a small turkey breast ready to go, along with gravy, potatoes, stuffing, veggies and pie for dessert. Will be hunting in the a.m., and will be home in the afternoon to start the cooking. should be fun.

    November 22, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  34. Jerv

    Never hosted a Thanksgiving. I let my family members duke it out.

    November 22, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  35. Anna

    If I were hosting Thanksgiving, I would be freaking out too. Fortunately, my boyfriend and I still join both of our families for the holiday and enjoy not one but two free turkey dinners! :) No point in spending Thanksgiving with just the two of us in our apartment...this holiday is about family as much as it is about food.

    November 22, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
    • Darthlawsuit

      If you don't enjoy it don't do it. Is it that hard to understand...

      November 22, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  36. Snowbunny

    It's my first Thanksgiving but I'll have the help of my mom and boyfriend! :)

    November 22, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • Andrea M

      You'll be just fine. Last year was my first at the ripe old age of 21. Lemme just tell you, Google will be your best friend that day. Also, switch out your roasting rack and arrange your turkey sitting in a loaf pan in the aluminum roasting pan. Make sure the bird isn't completely sealing it off and put the bird in the oven with a gap for your baster easily accessible. All the juices will run into the loaf pan, making basting incredibly easy and it helps save your oven from splatters.

      November 22, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
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