Thanksgiving dinner takes 18 hours to prepare. It’s consumed in 12 minutes. Half-time takes 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.” – Erma Bombeck
Do you love the holidays, or does the idea of entertaining fill you with anxiety and make you want to pick up the phone and make reservations? Are you an ‘everything needs to be perfect’ kind of person?
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t. Really.
Your guests won’t notice or care that your dishes and stemware aren’t perfectly matched, or that there’s a stain on your tablecloth, or that your table lacks a centerpiece. All they really care about is not getting seated next to Uncle Ralph, who’s idea of a good time is putting whoopie cushions on everyone’s seat. But if you’re like most of us, you either don’t believe me or don’t care…YOU want it to be perfect, or at least as close as you can get, right?
Here’s a few tips that I guarantee will help make this holiday stress free, delicious and dare I say it, fun?
Plan, Plan, And Then Plan Some More
I can’t stress this enough! I’m about to tell you something you might find surprising, but it’s true. On Thanksgiving Day, there is no reason you need to cook anything except the turkey. And since that goes in the oven well in advance of your guests arrival, it gives you plenty of time to relax. Just about all your cooking and prepping can and should be done in the days and weeks before. Get started with the following list at least one week prior to the big day.
- Check your serving dishes, crystal, china and linens. Remember, not everything has to match. In fact, done right, a mismatched table is far more interesting.
- Are you using silver flatware? Does it need to be polished? While you’re at it, check to make sure you have enough serving spoons. They always seem to be in short supply at our house! Honestly, I think there’s a spoon thief hiding in our closet. Make sure your knives are sharpened and that whatever small appliances you’ll need are on hand and ready to go.
- Decided on what you will prepare and what your guests will bring. People love to contribute to the meal and will often ask what they can bring. Take them up on it!
- Once the menu is set, start cooking whatever can be made ahead and frozen. Here’s a link to a site that has some great make-ahead recipes:
Are you planning on having a centerpiece? Don’t even think about spending a lot of money on it! Seriously. I will track you down and use you for my turkey stuffing if you do. All you need are some natural elements readily available in your yard. Even better, how about an edible centerpiece?
Or a simple display of small pumpkins…
Ok, now I have a confession and I hope you’re not gonna throw a turkey leg my way when you hear it. I’m not a huge fan of centerpieces. True, they look lovely, but when push comes to shove they get in the way of people seeing each other across the table, or at the very least they take up space which I would much rather use for a casserole of my famous sweet potato marshmallow dish (yeah, I still do that). Why not do what my friend Cheryl did instead? Have a cute little display like this on a side table?
Ok, back to the tips…
- Plan for seating. Do you need extra chairs? What about placecards? I think they’re a good idea, unless of course you have someone in your family who doesn’t like the set up and decides to switch things around *eyeroll*:…but I digress. On that note, do you know the best way to seat two people who don’t get along very well? On the same side of the table, but at least 1 person between them.
- Consider cooking two small turkeys instead of one larger one. They’ll cook faster plus you’ll get twice the amount of legs and wings :).
- A couple of days before, take out any of the frozen items from the freezer if need be and place them in the refrigerator.
- The day before, set your table and get out all your serving pieces. (Do this even earlier if you can.) Make sure you have plenty of ice at the ready.
- The day of, all you’ll have to do are the turkey and heating up some sides and you’re done. It really is as easy as that.
Everyone has their own tips to share. What are some of yours? Any disasters to share?
Have a wonderful, safe holiday with your loved ones!