Hosting your very first holiday dinner can be intimidating — especially this year, which might also be your guests’ first in-person holiday gathering in…quite some time. It’s a big meal with a lot of dishes, and requires more pots, pans, platters, and serving utensils than the average person has in their kitchen. If you are not a regular host of large dinner parties, you might need to supplement your usual kitchen equipment, and you should do so by going to the restaurant supply store.
Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, and even Target are currently well-stocked with festive platters, carving knives, and big ol’ cutting boards, but they all charge far too much for items you will use once or twice a year. You can find all the same basic stuff at the restaurant supply store for fewer dollars. The platters may not be emblazoned with turkeys, but that just means you can use them all year-round. (You’re going to put an actual turkey on the platter anyway.)
In addition to large bird-sized platters, the restaurant supply store is a good source for all kinds of equipment you may not realise you need.
Knives and knife sharpeners
Thanksgiving requires lots of chopping, slicing, dicing, and (obviously) carving. If you have knives capable of handling all of this, great — get them sharpened right now. If not, get thee to the restaurant supply store and grab some blades for cheap (I like the Kiwi brand, especially for cleavers). Get at least one chef’s knife, a large carving knife, and a cleaver for vegetables, as well as honing steel and a sharpener (pull-through is fine).
Even if you have a cutting board that’s suitable for chopping spuds, it’s unlikely you have one big enough for carving the ceremonial bird, so grab one of those. Look for one with grooves around the perimeter, to keep the turkey juice from running all over the place.
Need a whisk, a rolling pin, or a whole bunch of metal mixing bowls? The restaurant supply store has all that, as well as all of the parchment paper (get pre-cut sheets), really good cling wrap, and aluminium foil you could possibly need. If your restaurant supply store also sells food, it’s a good place to get tons of butter, something you will need if you are baking many pies.
Pitchers, glasses, and coffee cups
Want to serve a beverage that isn’t wine or soda? You will need a pitcher, and the restaurant supply store has those plastic pitchers you’ve most likely seen at restaurants (now you know where they come from). They also have any kind of drink container you can think of, from wine glasses to coffee cups. Are they the fanciest wine glasses? No, but that means you won’t get as upset if someone breaks one. (Pro tip: Do not forget the water and iced tea glasses. Water and iced tea glasses are the one thing I never have enough of.)
Takeout containers (for leftovers)
I’ve said it multiple times, but stuffing leftovers into takeout containers makes them far easier to store and access (when you are scrounging around at 2 am). It also makes sending guests home with leftovers much less stressful. No one has to return any glass containers or Tupperware, and they’re microwave-safe, freezer-safe, dishwasher-safe, and virtually unbreakable.
Flatware and serving spoons
Trust me: If you are not a regular hoster of dinner parties, you do not have enough serving spoons. It’s also likely you don’t have enough regular-sized spoons. You might think you do, but keep in mind that the average guest goes through two or three spoons throughout the course of the meal (they’ll use two on coffee and dessert alone). Get a head count, then count your flatware, then get a few extra forks, dinner knives, and spoons so you don’t have to wash anything in-between dinner and dessert.