I typically host more than 20 people for Thanksgiving dinner. That's enough to make my younger self hyperventilate, thinking of that big turkey to baste, those endless salads and side dishes to prepare, and all those pies to bake.
But I've learned something over the years -- I don't have to do everything. In fact, I hardly have to do anything in the kitchen.
The secret -- I delegate.
I say yes when people ask if they can bring anything. In fact, I don't just say yes, I give them an assignment. Whenever possible I ask them to bring their favorite dish, but I don't leave it completely up to them, otherwise we'd end up with three bowls of cranberry sauce and no roasted Brussels sprouts.
And the turkey? I outsource that too because I've never liked cooking a turkey. It's boring, stressful, and takes up my entire oven, leaving no room for anything else. But if making the turkey is your jam, by all means, make the turkey. For me, I'm all about the side dishes. So I assign myself one or two of those -- if I feel like it. Other than setting the table, making my own favorite dish, and pouring the wine? I'm home free.
I recently told a friend that I "general contract" Thanksgiving.
"Really?" she asked, sounding skeptical and perhaps slightly horrified.
Try it. Trust me, you'll wonder why you've spent years of Thanksgivings sweating alone in the kitchen.
After all, Thanksgiving is about gathering my family and friends together, giving thanks for the blessings in our lives, and watching our kids talk to their grandparents and play with their cousins.
The meal is merely the tool by which all of that magic happens.
So if you are hosting this Thanksgiving, be generous with those assignments. Put down the mantle of the martyr mom and realize you do not have to cook every single dish. And definitely consider outsourcing that turkey.
Joyce Shulman is Macaroni Kid’s founder and former CEO. An idea junkie with an entrepreneurial spirit, she is committed to encouraging moms to Take Care of Mama Bear.