Uh-oh…Thanksgiving is just 7 days away. Are you ready? I love Thanksgiving. It’s a day of giving thanks for your many blessings…and the one guilt-free day of the year where you can eat as much as you want. Bring on the pumpkin pie! But all that scrumptious food doesn’t just magically appear (unless you order take-out…which isn’t a half-bad idea if you want a stress-free Turkey Day). Most of us will travel to or have friends and family over for Thanksgiving. If you’re hosting a dinner and are feeling a little stressed…don’t worry. You’ve got one week to get things together. Here are a few recommendations to make T-Minus Zero…aka: Turkey Day a success:
Have a plan! You’ve definitely heard me say this before. The key to any event is to have a plan. Decide the Who, What, When, Where and How of your Thanksgiving meal festivities. Is it going to be simple? Just dinner, drinks and conversation? Or are you having a bunch of folks over and need extra seating, tables, decorations, and help making the food? And what about the kiddos? Will you need extra toys and games. Just start jotting down ideas and formulate a plan…then make a schedule.
Create a Thanksgiving schedule. Get your calendar out and start plugging in what needs to get done and when. I always recommend making a list of all your tasks then doing a backwards time schedule where you start with the event date and time and then work backwards on your calendar to plug in all the preceding tasks. For example: Dinner at 2pm (guests arrive and everything in place), 1:30 pm (table completely set and appetizers/drinks ready), 1:00 (turn on music, light candles, or turn on the television for the football fans; warm up side dishes), etc. If you are digitally savvy, you can even create a separate Google Calendar for Thanksgiving as well as a Google Task list. You can review your calendar in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and print out your task list so you can mark off your tasks as you go.
Plan your meals and shopping. I recommend doing this at least a week to five days in advance. First decide on your menu items (including drinks, appetizers and supplies) and list all the ingredients you’ll need. I highly recommend looking up each one of those recipes and review the list of ingredients so you don’t miss anything. Then look around your kitchen and pantry to see what ingredients you’ll need to buy. Next, decide what items you can buy now and what items you’ll need to get a day or two prior (fresh produce for example). Check out sale items and clip coupons prior to shopping, then try to go shopping during non-peak hours so you are not rushed or battling other shoppers. See my post on shopping with Grocery Gadget for an easy way to track and mark items off your list.
Prep food in advance. If you’re not going to get a lot of help with the meal prep, consider making some things in advance. You can make pies and several other desserts and freeze them. You can also make appetizers and freeze or refrigerate them as well (fruit and veggie trays are great for prepping ahead of time). You can also prep your potatoes, yams and other side dishes the night before and put them in a pot or pan so that all you’ll have to do is pull them out of the refrigerator and heat them on the stove or in the oven.
Don’t forget to clean your house. You can do this one of two ways: clean 1-2 rooms each day up until Thanksgiving Day or clean the entire house 1-2 days prior with a minor “straightening up” that morning.
Post meal clean up and preparation for next year’s festivities. A great idea is to have a storage box, just like you would have for Christmas or Halloween, to put all your Thanksgiving Day decorations in. You may also consider making or printing out a copy of your Thanksgiving calendar, tasks, menu, and shopping lists for you to reference next year.
Now go get busy! You’ve got some planning and shopping to do before you fill that tummy of yours with some good eats. Good luck!!!