With the unseasonably warm weather here in Dallas, it seems as if Thanksgiving is months away, not days! Are you in holiday calendar shock, too? Whether you are having 3 people or 30, there are ways to avoid feeling rushed and forgetful this close to my favorite holiday of the year- Thanksgiving!! Why is it my favorite? Because its about giving thanks, not things. To fully enjoy this relaxing day of reflection, getting organized ahead of time is key.
Ready, Set, Turkey! What to do, what to do?! Where do you begin to make sure even the cook can relax on Thanksgiving? We’re a little bit OCD around here at Michelle Lynne Interiors Group (AND my home) – so much so we think it should be “CDO” because that’s alphabetical, hehe. Here are some tips that we follow at my house to make sure we enjoy this special holiday, no matter the number of guests we are serving.
Thanksgiving is not the time to be a control freak. If Old Aunt Martha’s gravy is a showstopper, don’t be an attention hog and try to replicate her delicious dish – let her make it! She’ll probably appreciate being needed. Isn’t that what the first Thanksgiving was all about? Everyone brought something, it was the first group effort. When your guest asks “What can we bring?” TELL THEM! Everyone wants to help out, and if you know they can’t cook, tell them to bring wine. There is no such thing as too much wine!
2. Plan (way) Ahead.
Buy that frozen turkey as soon as they hit the stores. Keep it in the freezer until the instructions say how long it takes to defrost in the fridge and be all set for Turkey Day. Purchase potatoes and other veggies that have a long shelf life early. I break up my holiday shopping beginning in October- any canned goods, spices and other staples of the pantry are stocked and ready to go. Another bonus is it breaks up the big grocery bill! If you can make any side dishes early, then make it! My favorite cranberry sauce recipe can be made days ahead and kept chilled in the fridge. I also make the mashed potatoes the day before, put them in a casserole dish with pats of butter on top, and reheat in the oven. The butter melts over them to keep them extra moist and tasty. More butter is more better!
3. Set the Table Now.
I don’t use fancy dishes for Thanksgiving anymore. I mean, everyone is usually sitting around watching football in their jeans. Eating on fine china while dressed like you are at a tailgate never made any sense to me. Times have changed. I dress up everyday dishes with colorful linens and pics from a craft store to make the table a little extra special- they always go on sale after Halloween anyway. Only have one set of dishes and need them now? No worries- set the table ahead and use paper plates until the big day- with the table set for a few weeks, you’ll feel like you live in a home decor magazine.
4. Prep for Guests.
If you are having overnight visitors, get there rooms ready weeks ahead- if no one is currently using them. I freshen the beds by changing the sheets and airing out the linens. Run a dust rag over the hard surfaces at the last minute.If you kids rooms are going to turn into guest rooms, have them start clearing out toys and things so older guest wont have tripping hazards in their temporary private spaces. Think about where your guests can put their suitcases and other personal items. Take a close look at the bathrooms your guests will be using- think about how YOU would feel comfortable if you were the guest using it. Is there room for them to put stuff? Are there enough towels for everyone using it? Tackle these chores well in advance and you wont be scrambling right when you hear the doorbell ring. If you missed Michelle’s blog about preparing for holiday guests, click HERE.
5. Set up a cooking plan for Turkey Day.
This goes back to the first tip- delegate. Make a plan ahead of time, even that morning, to assign tasks. If Grandma is making the pies, let her know when the ovens are available for her use. I used to think it took all day to cook a turkey because my mom would be in the kitchen all day. She took care of most everything herself. Breaking up the tasks that you delegated and letting everyone know when it’s their turn in the kitchen will give you, the hostess with the most-est, a little time to catch your breath. Same goes for cleanup. If you can get your helpers to clean as they go, you wont have the entire days worth of fixin’s to clean up from. Or maybe just let the men do the cleanup? (Yeah, right!)
6. Leave enough time to relax.
Sitting down to eat shouldn’t be your only break. Get out of the kitchen when others are in there- or sit down and be a guest in your own kitchen (remember that aforementioned wine?). This is your day to celebrate, too. And maybe, right before Grace, you can be thankful for everyone at your table for a stress-free Turkey Day.
By adjusting a few things and letting go of control, your Thanksgiving Dinner can be stress free. Learning to accept help and by planning ahead means the cook can enjoy the holiday, too. And if Aunt Martha’s gravy is as good as she says it is, it’s okay if the turkey turns out a little dry. Enjoy and be thankful for your families and friends!
I’ll be back soon ~