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alternatives to hosting Thanksgiving?

I have a few rude guests (previous post) and wondered about having an alternative to T-giving at our house. We only have a few elderly folks who aren't expected to host, and BIL/SIL, who have never offered to host (but imagine Thanksgiving at a cold, filthy house that reeks of cat urine). Have people found alternatives, such as going to a restaurant or having it catered, that work well? If you cater a meal like that for family, does everyone contribute to the cost? I'd have to weigh pros and cons (leaving my house, whether catering would really be that much less work, and I dont' want to risk people not coming, nor do I necessarily want to give it up forever). Anyway, I'm interested in people's experiences.

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  1. A caterer at this late a date might be extra,not less work
    Yet,,,how many people? how much tradition? etc
    I read along with your original post and in the end you seemed on a level road,even more so now.
    I think shared cost is very reasonable,labor or $.
    Most here can help a lot with some geographical input from you.The supermarket,caterer or restaurant I might recommend would only work in the greater DC metro area.Many areas have options where you can pre order all or part of a meal,pick up or delivery.

    5 Replies
    1. re: lcool

      oh, I was thinking next year. Announcement about it at my dinner table this year!!! The place isnt' the problem, we have wonderful food here in Western NY (Weggies!) I'm really just wondering about the concept.

      1. re: binky1

        Personally, if they aren't going to help pay for it then they have no right to know (or care) from whence it will come. Do they normally chip in for the turkey and dressing and sweet potatoes and such? If the answer is no, then see my first sentence.

        1. re: PotatoHouse

          Is that a usual thing? I've never hosted Thanksgiving, so have no idea... Do the guests normally chip in for dinner? I'm sure it can get quite pricey with appetizers and a quality bird.

          1. re: Hobbert

            It all depends. In my family, various people share in the preparation by preparing a specific dish, according to the List which we agree to beforehand.

    2. We go out. A neighbor always asks us over, but we spend X'mas and sometimes New Year's with them, so we say "Thanks" on TDay and, like I said, we go to a restaurant.
      As I am the cook, it's obviously A THOUSAND TIMES easier on me -no running around, no choreographing, no cleaning up, etc.- and those of us who either don't particularly like turkey (like me; I'll take prime rib or salmon any day) can get something else. Also, if anyone has food allergies/regimes to consider, restaurants are usually happy to recommend and provide lower salt/lower fat/ vegetarian dishes, as opposed to me having to make a special dish -on top of all the TDay dishes- to accomodate a vegetarian/vegan/diabetic, etc.
      When other people join us, if it's dutch, we'll give them the cost of the meal, a list of what it includes, and if the regular menu is available. If we choose to pay for anyone, we just provide the time, place, and if the regular menu is available, insisting that the meal is on us.
      Hope this helps. I, for one, enjoy having one holiday where I don't have to clean a kitchen that looks like it exploded.
      Happy TDay!

      9 Replies
      1. re: Michelly

        yes, I was thinking T-giving is great to go out. I have to say I do feel like having BIL and SIL foot the bill entirely since we've provided everything for 10 years! Petty, but shows how something can irk you if you let it.

        1. re: binky1

          Somehow, I think the BIL/SIL will not want to share the cost of either dining out or catered in, so you may be solving the rude guest issue, by announcing at this T-day, that the Next T-day will be one or the other and that you WILL NOT be paying for everyone. Of course, you can telling those you do wish to include as your guests in either case that you will be "treating" them, in private. I would opt for the dining out, as if you cater in, the Rude in laws can still show up, eat and duck the cost, which they cannot do if you dine out.

          1. re: binky1

            <Petty, but shows how something can irk you if you let it.>

            It sounds to me like you're unable to let this go and you're thinking about having BIL and SIL 'foot the bill entirely'? You may just create more headaches than it's worth with that request. Instead of announcing what you plan to do at this Thanksgiving table, why don't you and your husband and children just silently plan on going out of town next year, make reservations at a wonderful place you find and begin a new tradition? It takes a bit of bravery but usually good things do.

            1. re: latindancer

              I agree with latindancer. I would give it a rest for at least next year; give yourself permission to take next Thanksgiving off and spend it with your spouse and kids.

              1. re: pinehurst

                I'm with pinehurst but I would say nothing this year. You can just send a note at some point next summer letting folks you won't be doing it. Give yourself a T'Day next year that is not filled with resentment. Stay home, go out, but let it be what you want. Everyone else can take care of themselves for one year.

              2. re: latindancer

                oh latindancer, I was kidding about having them foot the bill - wasn't clear about that, just cackling at the idea. No, I'd say that next year I"d like to take a break from cooking, and elicit ideas, in which case we're be clear that everyone splits the meal.

              3. re: binky1

                I'll lean on what latindancer and quine have said adding some weight and muscle.

                I think it's a world of good sense to announce this year that you won't be the hosting family next year.Do to the blah,blah,blah amount of work involved,time,management,logistics etc.This can be done very graciously without relinquishing one bit of "self".Something it seems they just don't get anyway.
                I WOULD NOT offer in any way shape or manner PLAN B information at this time.Any plan B really does belong to you,your household !!!! It's not anyone's business but yours for at least 10 or 11 months.Even then you needn't "volunteer" anything,you own the answers when asked.You just might see some resort or restaurant package that rings all of your for family bells,you can afford it.go for it....!
                Cost sharing should not be a "surprise",but part of an agreement known in advance.With an agreement you still risk those that agree never intending to play fair.

                1. re: lcool

                  Very good advise.

                  Let people know you won't be hosting. Do not let them know what you will be doing.
                  Otherwise they will not spend any time thinking about the options. This is key - once they really think about it perhaps a new found appreciation of the effort, planning and energy of your past hosting will develop. Often when something is pulled off well it appears effortless to an unaware observer.

                  I would skip the extended family next year and let them figure out alternative plans. Plus you really need a break. In 2014 perhaps suggest a new model if no one else has taken initiative.

                  To the current question:
                  Catering allows for a leisurely meal which can maintain family traditions (ball games, decorations, grandma's relish tray). But there is still house cleaning pre & post meal. In addition guests may out stay their welcome.

                  Restaurant limits the time together. Some people are better behaved "out". No prep work and when it is over you can come home and just relax. Easier to deal with picky eaters, etc. If you want leftovers you can always cook a turkey breast at home for sandwiches!

                  Binky, I bet you feel so much lighter just having made a decision about next year! This will make this season easier knowing the "sentence" has been lifted! When something which should be a joy turns into a burden it is time to restructure!

                  1. re: meatn3

                    This.

                    I also would *not* explain *why* the end of the tradition; it invites negotiation and recrimination. Instead, heed the evergreen advice of Emily Post with the universal etiquette widget of "it simply won't be possible" or a variation thereon.

            2. We're going to have it at church.

              1. The alternative to hosting? Not hosting. Tell people that you and your spouse are having a private holiday meal.

                Another option would be to have your dinner at a nice hotel that serves a Thanksgiving Day buffet. My family did this for a couple of years at the Grant Hotel in San Diego.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Dagney

                  The alternative to hosting? Not hosting. Tell people that you and your spouse are having a private holiday meal.
                  ___________________________________
                  +1
                  My alternative was to just stop inviting them and choose to do something else. I left the explanation out. That was that. It's worked great!
                  I'd love to cook for and host the big gathering, and if another group of guests needing a venue happens to form, then I'm 100% back in for hosting. I'm just not going to host THOSE people again.
                  In the mean time, there are plenty of other opportunities for food-centric parties and guests who enjoy them. Thanksgiving doesn't have to be the it. OTOH, last year we enjoyed "Fakesgiving" with friends where we all got together to have the turkey day party we wish we would have had or attended. It's was fabulous, and we all got to share (vent) those crazy family gathering stories and gripes from the actual day.

                  They're grown ups, they can figure out how to spend their holiday.

                  1. re: splatgirl

                    I agree with this, completely.

                    When I look around my table every year and realize the blessings I have, including good health and the people who enrich my life, I know the decision I made years ago to eliminate the people who insist on ruining that day, was a good one.
                    This includes family that somehow manages to overshadow the day with their miserable behavior. Life's just too short for the drama.

                    1. re: latindancer

                      Hear, hear! Life is not only too short for the drama but also too short to spend time with people you don't love.

                      I decided a long time ago to stop wasting so much of my precious time on people or things that make me feel bad about myself. There never seems to be enough time to spend with those that I love who love me back. Why waste it on people who don't?

                      There will always be cases where I have to see some of these people-weddings, funerals, the occasional social gathering. On those day I pull on big girl pants and kill ‘em with kindness.

                      So my alternative to Thanksgiving is to just say no, like a PP mentioned and then plan a great day myself.

                      OP-I would not recommend saying anything at this thanksgiving, why invite more drama? Instead between now and the next gathering keep practicing saying "No, thank we. We decided to do XYZ this year" "That sounds great, but no, we have already decided", " I am sorry you feel that way but we made up our minds", etc

                2. Someone always hosts in my family. For years we went to my parents, but then we started staying home as we got tired of traveling out of state and they started coming to our house. Probably helped that my sister also moved to the same city as I lived. Now we all live different places and I haven't gone back home for the holidays in over 5 years. I can't imagine anyone wanting to have TG catered or eaten out in my family.