By Deanna Talwalkar
Thanksgiving celebrates great food, time with loved ones, and the blessings in our lives. If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, you will still want to spend the day enjoying these gifts. Whether you’re hosting your very first Thanksgiving dinner or are a seasoned host, the big day will be much less stressful with some advanced planning. The following timeline can help make your Thanksgiving more pleasant.
TWO TO THREE WEEKS BEFORE
It’s important to nail down the guest list, take stock of what items you’ll need, and plan the menu. First, get in touch with all friends and family that are invited to get an approximate count of how many will be attending.
After getting a head count, determine if you have enough seating to accommodate everyone or if you will need to borrow folding tables or chairs. You can also take stock of your serving dishes, utensils, and linens. If you are running short on any of these items, now is the time to pick up extras.
Finally, a few weeks before the big day, you can finalize the menu. If you are lucky to have guests that will be bringing dishes to share, find out what items they plan on bringing. Then, you can fill in with any other items. Once you plan the dishes you are making you can also take stock of whether you’ll need any new equipment or serving dishes to make or serve those items. A couple of weeks before the event is a good time to make a cooking plan to address exactly when you will be preparing all the items on your menu.
ONE WEEK BEFORE
Clean out your refrigerator and freezer. If you have not yet arranged for your turkey, purchase a frozen one so that you can begin to defrost it. You could also make items that can be frozen and thawed the day before the dinner, such as pie dough, cookie dough, chicken stock, and soups. One week before, shop for nonperishable items, such as drinks, baking ingredients, spices, canned goods, and any decorating items you might be using.
A FEW DAYS BEFORE
Shop for any perishable goods. Prepare any menu items that can be made ahead, such as cranberry sauce and salad dressings. Preparing as many dishes as possible beforehand will make the day of the dinner much less hectic. Remember to thaw any items that you prepared a few weeks before, so that they will be ready to prepare by Thanksgiving. If you are baking pies for the big event, prepare and cook them the day before Thanksgiving. Purchase any fresh flowers that you need and set your table. If you’ll be hosting kids at your dinner, don’t forget to make a special spot for them with coloring books or other activities to keep them busy. Also, set out any containers or boxes that you can use to package up leftovers.
THE DAY OF THE EVENT
Take the turkey out of the refrigerator and let it stand for one hour to come to room temperature before roasting it. You can also begin to chill any drinks that should be chilled beforehand. While the turkey is cooking, finish preparing any side dishes, appetizers, and salads. About 30 minutes before guests are set to arrive, take a few minutes to relax and get dressed. Light candles and enjoy a drink before greeting your guests. And, enjoy your Thanksgiving with friends and family!