Having the family get together for Thanksgiving can be both exciting and terrifying at the same time especially if you are the host/hostess. There are so many things to do like clean the house, plan the meal, plan the seating, get out the china and silverware, grocery shop, cook, and the list goes on and on.
But what if you started today and got just a little bit done each day and were able to not stress and just enjoy the company of others when they arrive. Wouldn’t that make the day more relaxing?
Here are some tips that could help you get ready for guests and take the stress out of the holiday.
This week (three weeks until Thanksgiving):
1. Determine how many people are coming, then add two to that number. You never know when you will have a friend that hasn’t any place to go who would love to spend the day enjoying Thanksgiving with you.
2. Plan your entire meal on paper. Write down everything you will be eating including condiments! The appetizers, turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, vegetables, salads, gravy, bread, desserts, whipped cream, butter, salt, pepper, wine, juice, soda, etc. It’s easy to forget something if you don’t plan ahead.
3. Plan your table so you can gather everything you need to serve the meal. Do you need a tablecloth? Write down the number of dinner plates, bowls, dessert plates, bread plates, silverware, placemats, napkins, napkin rings, glassware, serving bowls, serving utensils, trivets, baskets, trays, salt and pepper shakers, creamers, gravy boats, sugar bowls, butter dishes that you’ll be using.
4. Get out the china and silverware and make sure you have enough pieces for the table. Are they clean and in good repair? Do you have enough plates and silverware for the crowd you are serving? Now is a good time to buy (in a store or online) extra pieces for your meal.
Next week (two weeks until Thanksgiving):
5. If you have to order any of the food like the turkey or the ham, do it now.
6. Get your linens out and make sure that you have everything you need and it is clean and ready to go. Do you have enough napkins, chair covers, place mats? Don’t wait until you are setting the table to find out the tablecloth has been visited by moths. Laundering and pressing the linens now, will save you time, as the big day gets closer.
7. Get out the pots, pans, pie plates and cookie sheets and make sure you have enough to cook the meal. I know from experience how frustrating it can be to go to put the turkey in the baking pan and find out it won’t fit!
8. Are you planning on sending home leftovers with your guests? Make sure you have containers that you don’t want returned to give them some food to go. It’s easier than scrambling to find containers after the meal hoping that you will have them returned to you later.
8. Clean out the refrigerator and freezer. You are going to need room to put all of the food before and during the preparation of the meal so now is a good time to make sure you will have room for it.
One week before Thanksgiving:
9. Get your recipes out and write down all of the ingredients you need to create your fabulous feast. Don’t forget the condiments and beverages!
10. Take inventory of the food items you already have. No need to purchase extras of the items that are already in the pantry.
11. Go shopping. If you wait until the beginning of next week, the stores will be crowded and you may find items out of stock.
12. Early in the week is a great time to prep the items that you can. Chop the onions, celery and vegetables for the dressing. Make a stock for the gravy. Anything you can do a bit earlier in the week will take the stress off later on.
13. Put the turkey in the refrigerator to thaw if it is frozen! We’ve all heard horror stories of still frozen turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. Don’t let it be you. If you are brining your turkey make sure you give yourself enough time to thaw and brine the bird.
14. Make the pies. This is my favorite part of the meal. I love pumpkin pie and I always bake an extra pie since I know there won’t be leftovers.
15. If you are making gravy with the giblets or using them in the stuffing, cook them the day before to give yourself some extra sleep Thanksgiving Day. Who wants to wake up and cook giblets just so you can make the stuffing at 4am?
16. Make any side dishes you can early in the week. Cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes can all be made early and refrigerated until the big day.
You deserve to enjoy Thanksgiving with your friends and family. If you are the host/hostess, start early so that when everyone arrives and asks if they can help you can smile and say everything is under control.