Without a doubt, Thanksgiving is known for food. It's also known for being an important holiday for families to work together to make sure that the main chef isn't responsible for cooking 10 billion types of mashed potatoes alone. It's common practice for others to pitch in with the desserts, the carrots that (amazingly) taste more like butter and less like vegetables, and the sides that help round out the main event, but how do you help out on Thanksgiving if you're a terrible cook? You don't have to be a wiz in the kitchen to pull your weight this turkey day.
As someone who has given myself food poisoning on two separate occasions based on undercooking scrambled eggs, cooking is definitely a sore spot for me. While I don't want to be seen as the 30-year-old child who only arrives to be entertained, I also feel pretty terrible for not having my own special side dish that relatives wait all year to consume. And if you're similarly nervous in the kitchen/straight up freaking awful in the kitchen, here are a few other ways you can show your appreciation and share the responsibility this holiday. Hey, it's not all about the food. Well I mean kind of it is. But there are other ways to contribute, too.
1. BRING THE WINE — PREFERABLY MORE THAN ONE BOTTLE
Bringing a single bottle of wine is kind of like bringing a six pack of beer to a party. It makes it seem like you brought it solely for your own enjoyment. If someone else has one? Sure, no problem. But it's just not enough to disperse throughout a crowd.
If you want to step it up a notch, get a good idea of what kind of wine the host enjoys. That way, they can make good use of the leftovers once the holiday is over.
2. PICK UP A PIE FROM THE BAKERY
Homemade pies are great, but don't feel bad about seeking help from the professionals. If you stray away from the typical flavors, your pie will truly stand out. And if your family gives you a hard time for picking up a pie at the store, they just truly don't know what horrors they'd find inside if you tried to bake it yourself. Is it a clump of sugar, or a baked-in marble? The world may never know.
2. BE AN HONORARY SOUS CHEF
Call up your host prior to, and offer up your services. He or she may be hesitant at first (if you're a guest), but tell them that it'll also be a really beneficial learning experience for you to see a master chef behind the scenes. Mention the egg poisoning, to truly bring the point home. Once you arrive — and you should make sure to come over a little bit earlier — be enthusiastic, and make sure you familiarize yourself with the kitchen before peeling those potatoes. Also, make sure you research how to properly peel potatoes.
4. OFFER TO ENTERTAIN THE KIDS
If your family is riddled with unruly toddlers, offer up the suggestion to serve as a temporary babysitter. Just think — maybe immersing yourself in all of those Baby-sitter's Club books from childhood (and, well, maybe up to high school) might actually pay off. Remember Kristy's great idea of the "Kid Kit"? Coloring books, crayons, and a whole lot of attention will help free up the television for football, and will make sure that no tiny, curious hands reach a hot stovetop.
5. TRY YOUR HAND AT SANGRIA
It's fruit and booze, so it's really not too hard to screw up — right? What's the worst that can happen? Someone scoffing, and labeling it as a seasonally inappropriate drink? Sure. While it's icy, delicious, and perfect for summer, it's also a great drink to start off the night while gabbing with the ladies. It's pretty much wine that's way, way more fun.
6. CLEAN UP
After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is scrape congealed gravy off of a plate and throw it in the dishwasher. Imagine this feeling times 10. Thanksgiving means that a lot of plates, silverware, and wine glasses will be littered around the house after everyone either heads back home, or falls asleep on the sofa. That's pretty damn overwhelming, especially for someone who dedicated their entire day towards making sure your stomach was filled.
Cleaning up isn't fun, which is why it's also important to state your intentions the second that the festivities start. Hosts often make sure their guests enjoy the full day, and they might brush off your sincere attempt to lend a helping hand.
7. PROVIDE THE ENTERTAINMENT
The best thing about sitcoms is that there's always a Thanksgiving episode. If you're media savvy (or just own a ton of DVDs), you could offer up a movie or a selection of your favorite Thanksgiving-themed television shows to help bring some laughs into the household.
Personally, it's not Thanksgiving for me without an airing of Planes, Trains, And Automobiles. The simple line of "Those aren't pillows" will always bring tears to my eyes.
Point proven: Even if you're fearful of the oven, and have constant nightmares about leaving the stove on when you're out of town, you can still make a big difference this Thanksgiving. Cheers to being an important part of the festivities!