The ninth installment of our breakfast advice column
Are you in a breakfast conundrum? Do you have deep-seated, unresolved feelings for brunch? Are you at a loss in front of the smorgasbord of life? Because so often breakfast is about feelings, and relationships teeter on the edge of the morning meal table, Extra Crispy editors Kat Kinsman (Bis-kat) and Margaret Eby (Bisc-gret) are here with the ninth installment of Emergency Biscuits, our breakfast advice column, to dole out hopefully not half-baked counsel and recipes for life. Got a question for the Biscuits? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hosting anxiety is so real and so intense this time of year. It’s only intensified by the glossy magazine spreads with perfect turkeys and the squash casserole arranged just so, and the perfect happy families in sweaters that pop up all over Black Friday commercials. The weight of all the expectations—the ones you have, the ones your guests have, the ones that apparently all of kingdom come has about the holiday—can feel crushing.
But my dear Drowning, the people you asked to help out, hopefully, know full well that this time of year is like that. If they are showing up early, it is with hope to give you some strength and some support. Odds are wouldn’t have agreed to come if they weren’t coming fully ready to pull on an apron and start chopping onions. So go easy on yourself. Be as gracious to yourself as you would be to your guests. You are doing the best you can, and no one can ask for more than that. (And if they do, kindly give them the number to the nearest Pizza Hut.)
For breakfast that morning, you don’t have to be fancy. Fancy is for later. Functional is for now. You’re already making them a huge dinner; you don’t have to cook breakfast as well. Offering to host is not volunteering to be a personal chef for everyone for the day. Make a big pot of coffee and buy a bag of bagels, set them out with some cream cheese options, some peanut butter, and some good lox. If you have time and inclination, some sparkling wine and orange juice wouldn’t go awry. Voila: they will be fed, and ready to help set out napkins and sous-chef. People are coming to help because they want to help—so let them. Delegate. Try to take deep breaths. Maybe top up your mimosa. After all, this holiday is for you too.
Oh, sweet Gravy, has anyone ever accused you of being a masochist? A well-meaning one, but still. These people who are coming over, you actually like them, yes? Not the dinner guests—there’s no assumption that you’ll actually already know everyone around a Thanksgiving table (at least not if you’re doing it right). I mean the morning crew. Presumably, you invited and offered because you genuinely trust and enjoy these humans, and don’t mind spending time with them in a hot, smell-filled space for a few hours.
Well, if they can’t deal with you in your bunny slippers, they don’t deserve you in your party shoes. Chances are they volunteered not because they fear you’ll muck up the stuffing or foul up the fowl—they actually want to help and spend time with you. One of the greatest gifts you can give them as a host is to let them. Yes, being a host isn’t just about laying out an Instagram-worthy spread and not showing your seams. It’s about the experience, and people have different needs when it comes to that. Some people like to sit back, relax, and be waited on, and that it perfectly valid. A party needs that.
Others—like me—enjoy a job at a party. It provides a buffer and a purpose, mitigates anxiety and guilt that someone else is toiling for your pleasure. I call these people the “napkin folders” after an unconscious behavior I see displayed by pals of mine in the restaurant industry; if they see a napkin askew, they fold it.
You, my friend, are about to have a kitchen fulla napkin folders, and aren’t you lucky? If their instinct is to come over and help, by god, let them. If that entails asking one of them to pick up a sack of biscuits, doughnuts, or bagels on their way over (offer to pay them back, of course, or order ahead and put it on your credit card) betcha they’ll say yes. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, make it easy on yourself. No one is expecting a full-on pre-party party, just fuel for what’s ahead. Keep it simple and minimize dishwashing and cooking by setting out hearty muffins, or yogurt, granola, and fruit to stack in disposable cups. If you insist on cooking, make a casserole or strata the night before, warm it up, and set it out with paper plates to let guests self-serve. If someone comes in demanding eggs anticipating eggs poached to order, point them to a carton and a pot and let them do it their damn self (and never invite them back).
Coffee is not optional. (Someone can stop off at Dunkin and pick up a box.) Consider popping open a bottle of prosecco, cava, or Champagne to toast your helpers. By the time the rest of your guests arrive, your stress will have bubbled away, and you’ll be in an abundantly thankful state of mind.