As a single man, there'll always be an urge to fill certain holes of your life with seemingly honest activities. Maybe it helps to make up for the lack of responsibility you hold in comparison to those brave enough to don a wedding band, or maybe you're just bored. But you, no doubt, occasionally find yourself volunteering for something you may not be completely qualified to handle, like rescuing a feral kitten off the streets, cleaning graffiti off the underpass and calling it a "beach cleanup," or, in this case, hosting your first Thanksgiving.
At first glance, it may not seem like such a chore just by watching a couple runs of National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation" and kicking open your door to a couple dozen of your closest friends (and a few strangers). But don't let your laid-back freedom compass steer your ship too much, as the day can be a little more than you bargained for.
Whether you're dealing with a friend's newly rescued pit bull literally biting off more than he can chew or the scheming weasel who brings a cleverly disguised weed cake to the dessert table, we're here to hand off a few safety tips on how a single guy hosts his first Thanksgiving and lives to tell about it.
Let It Be Known It's Your First Time
Like the night you lost your flower to a girl twice your size and you weren't exactly sure how the bees in the trees actually worked, the first thing you should do is let everyone know it's your first time hosting Thanksgiving. Don't be afraid to to ask for a little help. I'll say it again - ask for help.
If you don't know how to cook a turkey, don't think that tossing on your mother's hand-me-down apron is going to magically transform you into Martha Stewart. You don't want everyone getting food poisoning because you were too proud, so ask a kitchen-experienced gal to lend a hand towards fisting your bird and cooking it just right.
Get a Solid Headcount Ahead of Time
As you do, coordinate who brings what so you won't be forced to rob the neighbors' party next door of its scraps while they're comatose on tryptophan after round one. Take whatever number you're expecting and add a bit more to make sure you'll have enough. Then, when you assign people dishes, do it according to their skill set. You don't want Microwavable Mark leading the charge when he can just bring beer. Position people by their talents and things should go off nicely.
Set Up a Top-Notch Bar (and stock it well)
Even if the day is a complete disaster, people will remember it a lot less if they're completely trolled over with booze. And don't be cheap; spring for the good stuff. Just don't get so blasted while you're making things happen that you burn down the house or toss your cookies across the prepping area.
Have a little bit for everyone there. You'll want wine, both the red and white, along with plenty of beer. Beer is cheaper around the holidays, so buy enough to get people swimming and save the rest for later. You'll want plenty of booze, too, maybe even a hot cocktail like whiskey cider (and cinnamon). Either way, have some of the light liquor, like gin and vodka, as well as the darks, like rum and whiskey, so that everyone is saying what's on their mind by dessert.
Watch for the Unexpected
If you're truly a single guy, you aren't normally feeding a barnyard of animals, so continually jot down the things you missed as you go along. Having someone you trust do you a quid pro quo while you cook their dinner is helpful. It's little things like ice, condiments and cocktail mixers that'll escape your brain while you're focusing on the big picture.
Remember, you're the host, so manage your time by learning to delegate some responsibility on the lazy folk. You were nice enough to let people make a mess of your living room, so crack a smile and recruit a couple happy helpers.
Do Something Unique
Make your Thanksgiving stand out against the others. You don't need pony rides in the parking lot but get creative, maybe set up a shrimp bar, or better yet, a bloody mary bar. Whatever you come up with, make it something you know your pals will appreciate. Something very you.
If nothing else, lay down a toast that'll wet everyone's eyes, if not their pants. Funny with a hint of emotion usually rolls well off the tongue when alcohol is involved. You'll probably want to open by saying something you're thankful for, then throw someone under the bus with a good joke and end with a "but seriously" compliment of love and togetherness and a cheers to good drinks and warm meals. Taking your shirt off for this toast is a great way to make it something nobody will ever forget.
Remember that guests-most importantly, your friends-are just like kids. They like to be entertained, to laugh and watch people throw things, so don't expect any amount of food to be the end-all to their goofy smiles. Throw on any of the dozen games, whether it's football or NASCAR; basically, whatever the crowd wants - hillbillies or the Hilton. If you've outgrown cable, good for you. Find a reliable music station; break out some War on Pandora or toss on a classy vinyl. And always have plenty of appetizers to keep everyone's whistles wet and the bitching of empty stomachs to a minimum.
Overall, just remember to relax and have a good time. It's a right of passage for a man to host Thanksgiving for the first time, but don't try to carry the weight of it all on your own. Thanksgiving is a group effort, and the host is simply the guy everybody is most grateful for. But if you're not properly prepared, you could end up mopping up puppy blood and talking your friend off a ledge while he has his "Almost Famous" moment - so be vigilant, single gentlemen, and good luck.