November 15, 2006

Eight Ways People Can Help the Chef on Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving draws ever closer, I’d like to offer another list excerpted from Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner. You know the old saying about too many cooks in the kitchen. As long as you have just one willing assistant and my book, you’ve got all the help you need to prepare a complete Thanksgiving meal, and adding more people might only serve to complicate your life. But guests frequently ask if they can help, and some of them won’t take “no” for an answer! I’d like to offer some suggestions for tasks that can keep them occupied yet out of your way:

  • Set the table: If you haven’t already done this, it’s a good task for someone else. And if you have, someone can fill water glasses, light candles, or do other peripheral jobs.
  • Set out snacks: Point your guest to the hors d’oeuvres that have magically appeared in your kitchen (see Five Things You Can Ask Guests to Bring on Thanksgiving).
  • Greet other guests: If you’re up to your elbows in a turkey, you may not be able to leave the kitchen to answer the door. Having a designated greeter can take a load off your mind.
  • Serve drinks: Your guests will probably expect to get a beverage of some kind shortly after they arrive. A volunteer can take orders and deliver drinks.
  • Occupy the kids: Young children in the house? You can keep them and your guests occupied by setting them up with a board game or other distraction. Younger children (and older) might enjoy paper, scissors, and crayons or markers, which they can use to make decorations.
  • Occupy the grownups: If children ask what they can do (my, what well-bred children you have!), tell them how much their seldom-seen relatives would like to hear about their school or hobbies.
  • Run errands: In case of a last-minute need for ice or some other necessity, it’s nice to have a designated gofer.
  • Read the directions: Sometimes it’s easier to have someone read cooking instructions out loud to you than to read them yourself when you’re busy doing something else.

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