Thanksgiving Dinner is a monumental tradition in most American families. We all have high expectations for this beloved meal, but it also is the meal that causes the most stress. The key is to plan now. I have listed 6 things that you can start doing today to prepare for your guests.
1. Know who is coming for Thanksgiving Dinner
If you have not already invited anyone to dinner, now would be a great time to do so. Ask friends what they are doing Thanksgiving Day. If they are uncertain of their plans, invite them to your house. Invite the single person you know. Invite one more family and share the cost and preparation of the meal. The Thanksgivings that our family spent away from relatives have been some of our most memorable and have deepen our relationships with those we invited.
2. Write out your menu
When you know how many you will have for your Thanksgiving Dinner, then you can start with a basic Thanksgiving menu:
Sweet Potato Casserole or baked sweet potatoes
Roasted Green Beans
Cold and hot beverages
Start with this menu and embellish by adding more dishes or dressing these dishes up to be more decadent. As you confirm with your guests ask if they can bring an appetizer, dinner rolls, dessert, beverages or maybe a side.
3. Buy your turkey early.
Now is the time to start watching your grocery store adds for sales on turkeys. Here in the Orlando area, start watching Publix 1-2 weeks before Thanksgiving. Publix usually runs a sale on turkeys for $.59-$.89/lb. This will work for you if you have room in the freezer to store your turkey until Thanksgiving. You can get a beautiful large turkey for not so much money and have leftovers for your guests and your family.
4. Stocking up on the staples
As you are watching the grocery store adds for turkey sales, watch for pantry items and household goods. Listed below are examples of each:
spices – salt, pepper, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg etc.
broth in a box – chicken or vegetable
baking items -flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, nuts, dried fruits, non-stick cooking spray etc.
beverages – bottled drinks, tea bags, wine and coffee
paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags, napkins, dish washing soap, dish washer detergent, hand soap and disposable plates, cups and flatware (if you use these for any part of your meal)
ziploc bags in quart and gallon sizes, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, a roasting pan for your turkey and disposable containers for sending home leftovers with your guests
5. Planning your dinner table settings
Decide what table linens you want to use and iron now
Try different centerpieces so you are not setting the table on Thanksgiving Day
Plan what dishes, flatware and glasses you want to use according to how many will be at your dinner
Refill salt and pepper shakers
Match serving dishes to your menu items so you are not scrambling at the last minute looking for something to put the mashed potatoes in
Make sure you have enough places at your table and chairs. Organize how you may set up additional tables if needed. Ask now to borrow extra table and chairs.
6. Organize your kitchen
Plan your kitchen to have a beverage station, dessert station and whether you will serve dinner buffet style or all on the table. This will help on Thanksgiving Day with people flowing in and out of your kitchen.
These items are where I start whether I am having 4 or 20 for Thanksgiving. The idea is to be able to enjoy a day with family and friends and have time to reflect on the blessings God has given each of us.