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It’s that time of year again when we devote a full day to the fine art of being thankful. If you happen to be the host or hostess of this year’s Thanksgiving festivities in your home – whether to a house full of friends, family members, neighbors or all three – there are a number of ways to prep in hopes of having a stress-free, fun-filled holiday. With a nearly 40-year history of opening our doors, creating a warm and welcoming environment, and laying out a spread of delicious comfort food inspired by time-honored recipes, Woody’s Bar-B-Q knows a thing or two about making a meal seem eventful. We’d like to share a little bit about what we’ve learned along the way with you…

Setting the Scene
From setting the table (or TABLES if you’re playing to a big crowd) to planning the agenda for the day, endeavoring to squeeze in as much prep work as you can before the big day is always the best move. This includes shopping and preparing dishes ahead of time OR ordering and picking up food that you’d rather not make yourself. Don’t feel as though you must do it all! If there are several favorite family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, make sure to include those. You may teach the next generation how they’re made or you may call for reinforcements and have your other family members prep and bring a recipe or two on the big day (“Mom – you make the green bean casserole, Sis – you make the mashed potatoes and gravy, and I’ll make the stuffing!”). You can always look to restaurants like Woody’s Bar-B-Q to smoke your Thanksgiving turkey and prepare a number of crowd-pleasing sides that will round out your meal. As far as the scene itself, try to create a warm and welcoming environment – from place cards so everyone can find their place at the table to placemats and napkins in bright autumn colors that pay homage to the season to beautiful music playing throughout the rooms of your home. These simple gestures will let everyone know they’re in for a special occasion, even before they take their first bite.

Please Pass the “Roles”
To make sure YOU also have an opportunity to enjoy yourself, take time in the days leading up to Thanksgiving to define roles that will prove helpful to you and get everyone involved. On pieces of paper, write things like “Toss the Salad”, “Fill the Water Glasses”, “Get Everyone’s Drink Orders”, “Clear the Table”, “Wash the Dishes”, “Dry the Dishes”, “Load the Dishwasher”, “Slice the Pies”, etc. Write as many “roles” as there are people in attendance – although you may want to give your elderly guests and small children a pass. Fold the papers up and place them in a basket for guests to choose at random. Everyone has a role to play – which means everyone will feel as though they, too, had a hand in making this Thanksgiving extra special.

Giving Thanks
Set up an innovative way for your guests to “give thanks” before the actual blessing of the food. You may hang up a big brown tree cut from Kraft paper on a door. On a table nearby, have leaves cut from different colored construction paper – like brown, red, yellow, orange and green – along with several pens or markers and masking tape. Your guests can write down those things they are most thankful for on a leaf or two (or more if they’re feeling particularly thankful) and tape them to your tree. If you’d like to make it fun and incorporate it to the meal itself, have your guests fill out a sheet of paper with the things they are most thankful for, then fold them up and place them in a bowl. During the meal, you can pass around the bowl and take turn reading each answer, then try to guess who wrote it. Both activities will keep your guests occupied while you’re busy putting the finishing touches on the meal. If you have young guests, you may want to have a craft or activity planned that will keep them busy and out of the kitchen while you work your magic.

The Main Event
The meal is always the star of the show. If cooking has never been your thing, you’re intimidated by the thought of roasting a turkey or you just need a little assistance with rounding out the meal, there’s no shame in looking to the professionals for help! Many Woody’s Bar-B-Q locations are taking orders for Thanksgiving Smoked Turkeys through Tuesday, November 26. And all our comfort food sides – like cole slaw, country vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, bar-b-q beans and more – come in pint, quart and gallon sizes for your convenience. All you must do is heat them up on the big day! Be sure to pick up your orders before close on Wednesday, November 27 as most of our locations – if not all – will be closed on Thanksgiving. Know ahead of time where you plan to set up your buffet and having plenty of serving utensils at the ready! If you’re cooking everything on your own, have a schedule planned out for what dishes go in the oven, when and at what temperature to ensure a smooth operation so the natives don’t get restless or HANGRY! It might be wise to set out some bowls with mixed nuts or platters with meats and cheeses – nothing terribly filling. You don’t want to ruin their appetites!

Burning Off Some Calories
Once the meal has come to an end and the table has been cleared, it might be a great time to host a few games. From Thanksgiving Charades featuring holiday-specific prompts like “football” “turkey” and “cornucopia” to a laugh a minute Thanksgiving take on “Would You Rather?,” the internet is loaded with great ideas of ways to keep your guests engaged while the pies bake and everyone digests. We’re big fans of this list of fun games from Country Living Magazine.

Ending the Holiday on a Sweet Note
Just when you thought you couldn’t possibly eat another bite, dessert is served. This is another area where Woody’s Bar-B-Q can prove most helpful. Our famous Sky-High Pies – in flavors like chocolate cream, banana cream, strawberry cream, peanut butter cream and more – are always a big hit, as are our banana pudding and bread pudding. All of these can be purchased by the pie or by the pan. If you have a lot of leftovers, but not a lot of overnight guests, send your guests away with a covered plate to enjoy later or a reusable container filled with their favorite side dish.

From All of Us Here at Woody’s Bar-B-Q, We Wish You and Yours a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

KB 11/18/19