Since we are two weeks away from Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share this count down.
If you haven’t started planning your big turkey dinner yet – you’ve still got time!
Two Weeks Out
• Get an accurate head count from those planning to attend. This helps you know how many seats you need, if you need to set up an extra table (or borrow an extra table).
• Plan your menu in detail.
• Finalize your guest list and issue invitations.
• Prepare and bake freezable cakes, pies, cookies, and/or rolls. Tightly wrap all unfrosted baked goods in plastic wrap and freezer bags, then store in the freezer. Think about what a great idea this is. You will have your desserts prepared well in advance and, should you have guests drop by unexpectedly, you’ll have something you can thaw out on a moment’s notice.
• Finalize menu details including everything from beverages and appetizers, right on through salads, entrées and side dishes, as well as desserts, and any after-dinner drinks. Choose a good mix of dishes and make sure some of them may be made somewhere besides in the oven (stovetop, microwave, slow-cooker). If you are buying large pieces of frozen meat (like your turkey) purchase now and store in the freezer.
• If any of your guests offer to bring a dish, let them. Find out exactly what they are bringing and adjust your menu accordingly.
• Make your first run to the grocery store for items that are non-perishable (stock up on paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, resealable bags, chicken stock, canned goods, flour, sugar, etc.)
One Week To Go
• Anything that can be prepared a week in advance, take care of it now.
• Make a second trip to the store to get items that you’ll be using in the next week (think eggs, cranberries, etc.)
• Decide if you will b e serving the meal buffet or family style, where everyone will sit, what table linens you will use, what decorations and centerpieces you need, what serving pieces you need, if you have enough plates, glasses, eating utensils. If not, figure out what you are going to do to make things work (borrow, rent, purchase pieces).
Three Days Ahead of Time
• Remove meat (such as turkey) from the freezer and begin thawing in the refrigerator (follow package directions).
• Clean all your serving pieces and place them on the table with sticky notes marking what will be served in each dish.
• Clean out the refrigerator so there is plenty of room for all the groceries and all dishes you will need to store on the big day.
• Start cleaning outside the house near the front door area. Make sure your welcome starts there with a clean and inviting entry.
Two Days Ahead of Time
• Prepare any dishes that can be made a few days ahead of time.
• Gather all plates, silverware, glasses, pitchers, that you will need and make sure it is all washed, polished and ready to go.
• Make a final run to the grocery store. Get your fresh produce, dairy products, extra eggs and bread and anything else you are going to need.
The Day Before
• Remove all baked goods from the freezer. If they need garnished or frosted, do that now..
• Prepare any baked goods you couldn’t make ahead. Any dishes that can be assembled and left overnight in the fridge (like casseroles) can be taken care of now.
• Do whatever prep work you can now like washing and peeling carrots, prepping celery, etc.
• Make your game plan for the following day. Decide what needs done first in the morning, what tasks family members can assist with,what time you want the food on the table, etc.
• Finish cleaning the house. Make sure the entry, the guest bath, kitchen and the area where you will be eating are extra clean. Empty all the garbage cans. Place candles in strategic areas (use all the same scent family) and ready to be lit. Set the table, place the centerpieces and go soak your feet!
• Make sure the meat is in the oven with time to spare. You want to factor in time for the meat to “rest” before it is carved.
• Do as much prep work as possible on side dishes, such as assembling salads and relish trays, before guests begin arriving. Many dishes, such as mashed potatoes, can be completed a little early and kept warm until you’re ready to serve dinner.
• Assign family members duties for the day. Younger children can be door greeters and coat takers. Make sure you have a dedicated area for coats and handbags. Older children can pass appetizers and beverages to guests as they arrive. Give someone the duty of quickly running the broom down the front walk, lighting candles and making sure the guest bathroom is spotless.
• Take a deep breath, smile, relax and enjoy this day of giving thanks and blessings!