The Countdown Is On!
We only have one week left until the big day. The Thanksgiving feast can be one of the most difficult to pull off too. But with a little preparation and a few tricks, you can save yourself a lot of time and headaches. Organization can be your best friend when planning a party. And if you are having a larger group, it is always nice to ask your guests to bring the side dishes or appetizers. Any little bit will help you keep your kitchen/work space open and allow for more time to get the meal done and visit with your friends and family. Thanksgiving is a time to share and it is so much better if everyone pitches in!
So let’s get started planning!
Today: And over the next few days, you can finalize your menu and make your shopping list. Plan out your seating, order flowers, polish silver and buy all the wine and beverages you intend to serve. If children will be at your house for the holiday, make sure to have some activities planned for them or a space where they can play. Make sure you have your full head count!
Over the weekend: This is the best time to make sure you get the house cleaned and you can begin to arrange any furniture or tables that need to be moved. Wash, iron and prep any linens you intend to use. Start shopping for any non-perishable items on your grocery list. Start decorating if you haven’t already. Make sure you know where all your recipes are.
Monday: Finish decorating and set any tables that you do not need in the interim. Pull out any serving dishes and platters you intend to use. Begin to defrost the turkey if you need to! This is key and one of the biggest mistakes people make. A frozen turkey will NEVER cook in time. Allow 1 day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey. If you are not asking a guest to bring pies, you can begin making them as early as Monday.
Tuesday: Shop for all your fresh vegetables and perishable items. Buy fresh flowers. Make the cranberry sauce. Begin chopping vegetables. Read over your recipes and decide if you have any do-ahead items or appetizers you can make ahead of time.
Wednesday: Dust and spot clean where you need to. Make sure your guest bathrooms are stocked with soap and fresh towel etc. Finish setting tables. Make sure wine and beverages are chilled. Chop and prep any vegetables and herb that you haven’t yet prepared. Peel the potatoes and store in the refrigerator in a pot of cold water. Prep the salad items. Most stuffing recipes can be made a day ahead so go for it! You can also assemble any casserole dishes a day ahead and then cook them on Thanksgiving day.
Thanksgiving Day: Remove the turkey about an hour and a half before you plan to put it in the oven. Preheat your oven and stuff the turkey just before you intend to cook it. Generally, you will want to cook an unstuffed turkey for about 15 minutes per pound, at 325 degrees. A stuffed bird will increase the time. Butterball has a great calculator to help you get exact times for your size bird. Make the mashed potatoes. Keep them warm in a crock pot or in a heat proof bowl at the back of the stove. Be sure to allow 20-30 minutes for the turkey to sit before carving. Use this time to make the gravy and finish cooking any other vegetables. Warm the bread and rolls. Toss the green salad. Call everyone to the table and give thanks!
Desserts, coffee and whipped cream can be made and set out while people are digesting their feast and helping to clean up the main course.
Tips and Time Savers
As we stated above, Thanksgiving is not a time to conquer a whole meal on your own, especially if you have a large crowd to feed. Ask guests to bring a dish. Don’t feel everything has to be homemade. Go to your favorite boutique market, restaurant or store to buy things like pies, desserts, cranberry sauce, salad dressing, appetizers and many side dishes.
Do you have a small family? If so, you may not need a whole turkey. You can buy just the turkey breasts. This will cut down the cook time considerably and still be just a delicious!
Most importantly, enjoy your day. This is a time for family and counting our blessings. Don’t let the stress and pressure overwhelm you.
Do you have a specific question? Would you like a tip or advice that we haven’t mentioned? Feel free to join us on Facebook or Twitter and we will do our best to answer all your questions and offer the best tips we can.