Thursday, November 15, 2012

Steps to a Stress-Free Thanksgiving...it's all in the details.


If you are hosting Thanksgiving, you've likely realized you have one week 'til the big day!  There is still a lot to be done, but you don't have to stress out about it.  Taking the needed measures to make sure all the details are taken care of are as simple as making a list, keeping a list then sitting back and enjoying the day!

First, get the most important details written down.  Here are 7 tips that have worked well for me for many years. 
  1. Figure out a few basics: How many people will you be inviting? Knowing this information ahead of time helps you know how much food you'll need, how many chairs, cups, plates, etc.  Having what you need when you need it is essential to a stress free Thanksgiving!
  2. Choose recipes and figure out who will be making what.  Many people want to bring a dish.  Let them.  You don't have to do it all.  You're not Martha, and you're not super-woman.  If you want to provide the turkey and dressing, send a note to your guests saying, "I will be honored to provide the turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving.  I would be thrilled to sample your culinary holiday specialties."
  3. Do a walk-through of your house. Does anything need fixing or updating before the big day? Make a plan to take care of repairs and decorating projects now, while you still have ample time. If you don't have the time or money to fix certain things, find ways to disguise them; a little touch up paint or strategically placed plant can do worlds of good in a pinch.
  4. Figure out now if you will need to borrow or buy anything — extra chairs, serving platters, silverware etc.
  5. Make any DIY table decor you'd like to personalize, such as napkin rings, candleholders and place cards.
  6. Make your shopping lists and stock up two weeks prior.  You'll avoid the crowds and the save your sanity!
  7. A few extras you may want to think about including: paper takeout containers for handing out leftovers, crayons and butcher paper for the kids' table and wineglass charms or removable stickers for glasses.   
The Weekend Before
  1. Give your house an all-over cleaning. Don't waste your time with hidden areas and deep clutter — focus on the entryway, bathrooms, dining room and living room -- the areas your guests will see.
  2. Tidy up the front porch, check porch lighting and add a few fresh potted plants or a wreath on the door.  This makes your home feel welcoming before guests even cross the threshold.
  3. Clean out the fridge and freezer. This makes storing those left overs a snap.
  4. If you're buying a frozen turkey, pick it up now and begin thawing it in fridge.
  5. Shop for and begin cooking dishes that can be made ahead and frozen, like pie dough and casseroles.
The Night Before
  1. Set the table if you're serving family style or set up the buffet.  This lets you know if your serving dishes are too large, too small, if you need a few more, or a few less. 
  2. Put labeled serving dishes and implements on trivets on the table or buffet.  I find it helpful to create small "tags" or name plates for each dish.  That way I know that every dish I'm making has a place on the buffet.
  3. Tidy up around the house.  When you wake up and your house is cluttered before guests arrive, your focus will be divided.  If you take a few minutes the night before to straighten and pick up clutter, you will find your house to be guest-worthy on the big day.
  4. Prep any dishes you can to ease the workload for the next day.
  5. Put anything you made in advance and froze in the fridge to thaw.
On Thanksgiving Day
  1. Fill a dishpan with soapy water and use it to clean as you go.  You can always use one more pan.  If you wash the one you're using when you're finished with it and store it, it can be your "extra" when you need it, and you won't be faced with a mountain of dishes when the meal is over.
  2. Start the turkey in the morning and follow your cooking plan.  
  3. If anyone offers to help, accept!  In fact, as I prepare the turkey and begin the other necessary preparations, I keep a list at my side.  Anytime I think of something that needs to be done, I jot it down.  Then when someone asks if they can help, I can answer, "Yes, can you _________."
  4. Wrap up leftovers promptly to avoid food-borne illnesses. If you're giving leftovers to guests, pack the food in takeout containers and store it in the fridge until it's time to go.
  5. Run a load of dishes in the dishwasher before sitting down to dessert.  More than likely, this load will be complete and the next one ready to start when the pie is all gone.

These tips are ones I'v accumulated over the years, gathered from friends, and by scouring the internet.  Here's wishing you many happy evenings of preparation, and a Happy Thanksgiving.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

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