Yes, Thanksgiving is this week, but don't worry. A local private chef -- Ken Durbin, owner of The At Home Chef -- is sharing some secrets you need to make your next dinner party the best one yet.
1. Know Your Audience: You might like Ina Garten, but maybe not everyone is into obscure dishes. Keep your options simple and classic, Durbin says. "Or, if they'd appreciate some creativity, try upgrading a classic dish like my No Nonsense Green Been Casserole recipe," he adds.
2. Be Prepared: Work with the time that you have. "There are all kinds of tricks," Durbin says, "but most importantly, prep as much as you can in advance so you can spend as much time as possible with your guests. That's what it's all about."
3. Write It Down: Write down your menu and time-table it. Then move through your plan step-by-step. "I always time-table myself," Durbin says. "It avoids a lot of stress to think through how much time you really need and visualize how the flow of your day needs to go."
4. Use Reasonable Numbers: If you are cooking for a group of 8-10 people, all you need is a turkey, three sides, two pies, and some bread, according to Durbin. "And then lots of wine, of course," he laughs.
5. Be Grateful: As you prep for the big day, Durbin suggests to use that quiet time to practice gratitude. "Instead of thinking 'I have to do this, I need to do this,' think about how you GET cook for the special people in your life," he says "I'm going to be doing the same thing. Don't let the holiday get to you in a negative way. You're never going to look back at a Thanksgiving and say, 'that stuffing was terrible.'"
6. Have a Cocktail: It's easy to get caught in the hustle and bustle of the day. So, whether it's a cocktail or a mocktail, take time to cheers with all your loved ones who are there to spend the holiday with you. "Thanksgiving is of course all about gratitude. But it’s also about making memories with the faces around the table, the smiles that will live forever in your heart," Durbin says. "After the past year, I think we all realize what a gift it is to just be together, so soak up every ounce while you can!"
7. Give Back: The word Thanksgiving means “the expression of gratitude” — a readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness. "It could be a warm hug for a lonely neighbor, volunteering or donating to a cause you care about," Durbin says. "I think it's an important part of Thanksgiving, especially this time of year when there's even more need." Durbin says he supports organizations like The Ion Center, a local women’s crisis center, and the Arthritis Foundation.
In general, Durbin says the most important part of hosting is plan as much as possible, don't sweat the small stuff and enjoy the ones you're with. He says he's available on his Facebook page all day if anyone needs any help, ideas or more tips! Learn more about The At Home Chef here or contact Durbin at email@example.com.