UNITED STATES—I tell this to people all the time; I love the fall season because it kicks off so many holidays and opportunities for gatherings and to spend time with family I just absolutely love it. This week we saw Halloween come and go. As much as Halloween used to be a holiday for kids, it’s more for adults nowadays than anything. Why? Adults like to get dressed up and have fun just as much as kids. What’s the difference? The kids love the candy, the adults love to party and drink. With that being said, parents don’t forget to comb through and check all that candy from the kiddies to ensure there aren’t any surprises. In addition, don’t allow the kids to stuff their tummies with all those sweets and chocolates. They’ll have a belly ache if you do.

With that being said, my favorite holiday of the entire year: Thanksgiving is fast approaching. People ask me all the time, what is it about Thanksgiving that I love so much? The food matters, but that is not the top reason America, it really isn’t. It is the notion of being able to cook for others, to host and to spend time with family and friends that matter most to me. I love to be in the kitchen, and getting the opportunity to craft dishes that let’s face it, we could cook anytime during the year, but we chose to do so on this special day.

This is the one day of the year, where let’s face it, you’re able to pig out and no one will complain or say anything if you do so. Food brings people together, food makes people happy, and let’s just put it out there, we all need food to survive. With that being said, over the next couple of weeks we’ll discuss issues pertaining to how to prepare for the festive holiday, that guest list, the dishes you want to cook and those you want to stay away from and how to host without dealing with a massive amount of stress. Thanksgiving might be less than 4 weeks away, but that doesn’t mean you should wait till the last minute to begin preparation. You should be thinking about things right now. Why? If you wait till the last minute, it will indeed lead to stress, and utter chaos that you simply do not need.

Now is the time to determine rather you will host the big dinner or attend another friend or family member’s festivities. If you are hosting you have a lot of work to start thinking about. Notably, how many people your house can accommodate and where you budget will cap off. Yes, so many people think Thanksgiving is an easy peasy holiday to host, but the cost of food is NOT cheap, and when you’re feeding people you want to ensure you have enough for everyone in attendance.

Right now is the time to think of a budget, what you want to spend and where you plan to cap off that spending. Yeah, I’ll talk more about the issue of budgeting with another column written this week (so take a look at that). Your budget is dependent on rather you will have guests bring a dish or rather you plan to do a vast majority of the cooking. That is very important, because if you have guests who will bring dishes to the big dinner, that will save a ton. Why? Your focus immediately shifts to primarily focusing on the major staples: the turkey, the ham, the lamb, and other meats you’d like to cook. Yes, while expensive, that takes the headache from having to worry about crafting all those side dishes.

Side dishes are great, but in essence if you are feeding a big family, they are costly to craft those dishes when you have multiple ingredients that you have to purchase, some which are not as cheap as people would like to believe. So having guests bring desserts to the table and other side dishes save money. You still have that issue of what transpires if you’re not a fan of your guests cooking? That will take an entire column to discuss that notion.

With that being said, if you’re hosting, the budget should be the focus of your attention right now. Who is coming? How many people do you have to feed and what can you afford to spend without putting strain in the household or on your bank account. Next week, we’ll discuss the issue of guests, who to invite and how to ensure there is no friction or chaos at the big dinner.

Written By Kelsey Thomas