Gobble, Gobble, Gobble…A Simple Guide To An Organized And Stress-Free Thanksgiving

by Vanessa Hayes

in Cooking Tips,Organizing

Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away. What? So soon! Yes, it’s that time of year where our holidays are jammed packed with barely enough room to breath in between. But let’s get focused on what’s coming up next…Thanksgiving dinner. If you don’t want to run around in a panic getting things ready at the last minute, I offer you some ideas below to help you have a stress-free Thanksgiving. So get your turkey timers ready and check out these tips to help your organize and most importantly, enjoy your Thanksgiving Day:

Create a Thanksgiving dinner plan! Decide the who, what, when, where, why and how of your Thanksgiving dinner. You can make it as easy or complicated as you like, but it all starts with having a plan, identifying all the important tasks and coming up with a way to get those tasks done.

Look at your calendar and start plugging in dates and times to complete your tasks that you identified in your Thanksgiving dinner plan above. Create a spreadsheet, use a separate paper calendar or create a separate Google Calendar just for your Thanksgiving dinner prep. It’s important to plan and spread out your tasks so you’re not running around at the last minute (although it seems inevitable that you’ll forget at least one thing….ask my hubby ;o)

Send out invites! Don’t wait until the last minute. Ok…so what if it is too late? Then get on the phone and call your friends and family now or send out an email! You can create a beautiful e-vite that goes to everyone…no handwriting addresses or licking envelopes…and you can save money not using stamps!

Create a menu and make a grocery list. Look at each recipe and write down the ingredients you’ll need. Then be sure to take inventory to see what ingredients you already have. If you need ideas on Thanksgiving dinner prep, check out Epicurious or Food Network for Thanksgiving dinner plans.

Go shopping early before the mad rush! Again, take inventory before you head out. Try to organize your list by aisle and section. A great app for that is Grocery Gadget where you can make a list just for Thanksgiving dinner and organize it by category…sweet!

Ask friends for help and have them bring over a side dish of their own. Alleviate some stress on what to make by getting your guests involved in the meal. It’ll be less stress for you and they’ll probably be delighted to help!

Make sure you have enough tables, chairs, dinnerware and decorations. Be sure to schedule time to gather, borrow or rent the supplies you need depending on how big your Thanksgiving dinner party will be.

Make dishes ahead of time if possible. Non-custard pies will do fine if they are made the day before and stored out of the fridge. And many side dishes like casseroles, cooked veggies, yams, etc. can be made early and frozen or kept in the fridge until you are ready to reheat them.

Set up tables and decorations the night before. The last thing you need to worry about on the day of your festivities is setting up the table. This is a good opportunity to get your family involved.

Defrost the turkey 2-3 days ahead of time! You do not want to wait until the morning of to defrost. And please, please, please…DO NOT PUT A FROZEN TURKEY IN A TURKEY FRYER! This is extremely dangerous and can cause a serious fire!

Ask your guests to bring over food storage containers to take home leftovers. My friend Katie shared this idea with me and it’s fabulous! I’d also recommend picking up a few disposable/recyclable ones just in case your guests forget to bring theirs.

Most importantly…don’t forget to enjoy your time with friends and family. It’s easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of this busy day, but you can control how hectic it is by preparing ahead of time, having a plan, doing a little bit here and there, getting help or simply making it a simple meal with just a few guests and a simple menu.

So, however you decide to plan your Thanksgiving dinner, be sure to take time to reflect and to be grateful for the real gifts in our lives…freedom, friendship and family.

Hope you have wonderful Thanksgiving!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

R. Davis November 30, 2012 at 9:27 PM

Thanks. Love your help with the g calendar and I will take this up for xmas since our Thanksgiving was a chaotic kid nightmare. lol….

Vanessa Hayes December 3, 2012 at 12:36 PM

Yes…my calendar really does keep my on track with my “to-dos”…especially during the holiday season. I hope it’s helpful for you and that you don’t run into another “chaotic kid nightmare” again ;o) Thanks for checking out the blog!

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