I am loosey-goosey about alot of things…Thanksgiving is not one of them. If you want to have a successful, enjoyable, survivable, celebration…you MUST MAKE A PLAN…IN ADVANCE! Whether you are cooking for 4 or 20, you will be thankful for being prepared.
PLAN…the menu and preparation. Look at what you plan to cook, and think about what can be done in advance. For me, I usually start on Tuesday (Thanksgiving being on Thursday )…not counting the start date for thawing your bird, if frozen. Here is a quick glimpse of my schedule:
- TUESDAY: bake cornbread & sweet potatoes. After the sweet potatoes cool, peel them & put in the fridge. Make the cranberry sauce & refrigerate (gets better after the flavors meld for a day or two).
- WEDNESDAY: pies (next week’s grand finale!), assemble sweet potato soufflé & refrigerate, assemble cornbread dressing & refrigerate, prep veggies (fresh greenbeans are great in the crock pot overnight on low!)
- TURKEY DAY: plan your baking…the turkey can go first, it takes the longest & needs to rest…while it is resting bake the other remaining items (this is where my excitement for my new double ovens comes in!!!). Don’t forget the gravy!
Obviously this is not an all-inclusive schedule, but you get the idea.
DELEGATE…this is difficult for me, but I have done it! I have handed out ‘assignments’ to everyone…asking them to bring a favorite veggie, bread, beverage, etc. This will greatly reduce your stress, and allows everyone to bring some of their tradition to you…you never know when you will adopt a new tradition.
DISPOSABLE…don’t be afraid of disposables…I have sworn off the daily usage of paper plates, and I realize that paper & plastic don’t make for the loveliest of place settings…but honestly, I don’t have enough real dishes & flatware to accomodate the crowd I’m expecting…so disposable it is! I do intend to have ‘real’ serving pieces to make for a pretty buffet table…no foil tins for me .
TIMELINE…have one & do your best to stick to it. Let your guests know when the celebration begins…and when it ends. My guests will be receiving e-vites this year that will include the time, the assignment list, and a request to respond by posting what they will specifically be bringing to share. For me, I am unable to ‘turn off’ my hostess mode as long as I have guests. I love, love, LOVE to entertain, but when in hostess mode, I am not as focused on my immediate family. We have a little tradition on Thanksgiving night…we go looking for Christmas lights and watch The Polar Express together. Obviously our overnight guests will be included in movie time, but when the feast is finished I try to have some quality time for those I am most thankful for…my husband & my children.
Today’s secret revealed…it is really okay to delegate, use disposable, and have an ending time…these were very hard for me to realize, but I am thankful that I have done them.