In my house I avoid the kitchen the way most people avoid their nice, fancy dining rooms with expensive china; the light is rarely on and if the floor were carpeted, you would only see footprints near the cabinet where I keep my cheese plate boards and cocktail shaker.
I’m not sure if I can’t cook, I just really don’t have a huge desire to. I’d much rather spend my evenings writing, reading, or out enjoying a meal at someone else’s fine establishment.
So, Thanksgiving is always a bit daunting because there are lots of parties and everyone wants to know what you’re bringing.
This year, Friendsgiving was at my house. I was happy to host and said everyone was welcome as long as I wasn’t in charge of the turkey. I watched as people filled in their dishes on the Excel spreadsheet that a friend (much more organized and mathematically minded than me) had emailed—lots of delicious sides! A dessert or two! And…no turkey.
“I think the host is supposed to make the turkey,” my cousin’s wife informed me, when I called to ask her what I should do.
“Right, but I specifically said I’d host if I didn’t have to make the turkey.”
“You could try it?” she said.
I’m always up for a challenge, but I wasn’t sure this was the occasion to take on the mother of all domestic challenges. I’d heard people who actually like being in the kitchen complain about making a turkey. It would take my entire day and I’d still probably f*** it up.
That definitely was not happening.
So, I got in my car and I drove to Whole Foods to see about buying a pre-cooked turkey. Unfortunately, you have to a bestselling author of Nicholas Sparks’ stature or a major corporate executive in charge of six or seven companies to afford a pre-cooked turkey that would serve eighteen, so I told the deli clerk thanks but no thanks and walked out feeling a bit defeated.
As I sat in my car I wondered if I could buy enough wine that people might forget there wasn’t turkey. Or buy one, leave it burnt in the oven and say, “I tried?”
It was dark at this point. Most shoppers had already gotten their food and gone home, but I had to figure out something because Friendsgiving was tomorrow and I had work the next morning. So, I stopped into Trader Joes.
I usually only go to Trader’s for flowers and cheese, but this time I asked the cashier if she could help me come up with what to bring instead of a turkey for Friendsgiving. “What about a ham?” she suggested.
“Are those hard to make?” I asked (and by hard I meant was I going to have to do anything.)
“You just unwrap it and put it on a platter,” she told me.
And so, fellow readers, we had ham at my Friendsgiving.
This experience got me thinking how many other people there must be out there like me who break out into a cold sweat at the idea of cooking for Thanksgiving, so I compiled a list of some other ideas of what to bring if you can’t cook anything.
Games: We recently played What Do You Meme? during cocktail hour at a dinner party for my sister’s birthday. Funny games can bring your guests together, especially if you’re hosting both sides of the family. I also love Cards Against Humanity and Exploding Kittens.
Wine or a fall cocktail: It’s easy to pick up and always a crowd pleaser.
Gifts for the host and everyone at the party: If you’re more crafty than kitcheny, think of a creative party favor or activity to bring for all the guests. Maybe cut out leaves where people can write down what they’re grateful for. Or make gratitude cards for everyone to fill out and share.
Ham: It worked for me.
A cheese plate: Cheese plates are easy to assemble and kick off the night. Here you can find one of my favorite boards and I love this four piece rose gold cheese set.
Candles: Bringing some candles to add to the ambiance of the night can be a nice touch and gift for the hostess. Here are some of my favorites:
A copy of Waiting at Hayden’s: Shameless plug. Bring a copy of my novel as a gift for your host. (And so I can afford next year’s Whole Foods pre-cooked turkey!)
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
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