published about 13 hours ago
Hosting Thanksgiving can be a dream come true. Between showcasing all of your favorite recipes and dressing up your home to be cozy and inviting, it’s a big deal to be in charge of the largest culinary event of the year. But regardless of how excited you may be, even a seasoned host might still frantically search for some last-minute tips to help ensure the big feast is as special as possible.
Although there are plenty of smart tips (and make-ahead recipes) from hosting mavens like Ina Garten that you probably have tucked in the back of your mind, if you’re looking to take things up a notch and host this Thanksgiving like your favorite celeb, Chef Richard Ingraham is here to help.
Sharing five useful tips with Kitchn on how to make this year one for the books, the cookbook author, restaurateur, and personal chef to former basketball star Dwayne Wade and actress Gabrielle Union has everything you need to keep people talking well past Thursday’s main event.
1. Ditch the aluminum pans.
Setting up a nice presentation for your Thanksgiving feast doesn’t have to be left to those who are considered to be celebrities or influencers; you can do it, too. And according to Chef Richard, it starts with getting rid of those clunky aluminum pans.
“Elevate the dining experience by using chafing dishes with warmers instead of traditional serving platters or disposable aluminum pans,” the famed chef told Kitchn. “You can also add garnishes like dried fruit or fresh herbs to elevate your dishes.”
2. Set up an in-house photo booth.
The holidays are all about spending time with loved ones, and taking photos while you’re all together can help to commemorate the moment. The celebrity chef noted that adding a photo area for your guests can make them feel like the stars of the evening — next to the food, of course.
“Set up a simple photo area to encourage social sharing and give guests something to take home at the end of the night,” Chef Richard said. “Prop up a backdrop and purchase seasonal or dried flowers in bulk to make it feel special.“
3. Create a festive, signature cocktail.
While sangria or a nice glass of wine are always welcome to the table during Thanksgiving, Chef Richard suggests taking the celebrity route and creating a festive cocktail for your guests to sip on instead. “Create a simple, signature festive cocktail that looks great on the table and tastes good,” he said. “I like ones that use very little ingredients like a CÎROC Pomegranate Spritzer. All you need is club soda, some rosemary sprigs, and pomegranate seeds for garnish — which you might already have on hand from your dishes.”
Chef Richard also suggests that you make the sips feel special to your guests by personalizing acrylic cocktail glasses with their names and opt to use them as part of your place setting.
4. Curate a playlist for the evening.
Food and fellowship might be two things that go hand-in-hand, but for Chef Richard, food and music do too. “Create a playlist of classics across generations to play during the festivities,” the celebrity chef told Kitchn. “Arrange the playlist to start with songs for a seated dinner, followed by more upbeat songs as the evening goes on to set the tone.”
5. Make sure you have enough food for your guests.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but Chef Richard emphasizes the fact that you need enough food for your guests to dig into on the big day. So how much food does that equal out to exactly? Well, that depends on what you’re serving.
“I always get asked, ‘How do I know if I’ve purchased enough food?’” he said. “For appetizers, offer at least four different types with six to eight pieces per person. If soup is on your menu, then provide enough for 1 1/2 to 2 cups per person. Meats, however, should be measured at 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per person. Lastly, side dishes can be measured at 4 to 6 ounces per person, per side dish.”
If you’ve planned to have more than enough food, however, another option Chef Richard thinks will add you amongst the list of best-of-the-best hosts, is to have to-go goodie bags ready for your guests. These bags will include microwave-safe containers that will show your guests how thankful you are for them making an appearance at your event.