Organizing for Thanksgiving…

It might be a little early, but I get the feeling that we are all ready for Halloween to be over and ready to embrace the holiday season with open arms.  I even heard Christmas carols being played on the radio!

So organizing for Thanksgiving — Im specifically talking about a Thanksgiving Day feast.  I’m going to take a page out of The Holiday Binder and talk about how to organize a chaos-free Thanksgiving Day lunch or dinner.

I don’t know about you, but hosting a Thanksgiving Day lunch for more than a few guests stresses me out.  Here’s why: getting RSVPs, coordinating who is bringing what, did we forget anything like plates, napkins, or tea, grocery shopping and hoping they are not out of pumpkin pie spice, and of course the inevitable cleaning and decorating!

Here is “Jennifer’s Guide to a Chaos-Free Thanksgiving Day Feast”

*the key ingredient is planning…planning…planning*

  • Three weeks before (1st week of Nov): *Thats this week BTW!*
    • Set the date and time
      • Call or email everyone you plan to invite
    • Plan your menu
      • When you email and call your guests, ask what they want to bring for the dinner.  Have suggestions available in case they are not as planned as you.  Paper products, sodas/teas, dessert ideas, etc
    • Test drive any new recipes that you plan to make
      • No one wants to try a great new recipe only to realize that pumpkin mango pie is not as tasty as it looked in the magazine.
  • Two weeks before (2nd week of Nov):
    • Stock up on non-perishable items that you will need for your recipes
      • Canned goods
      • Spices
      • Baking essentials (cake flour, cookie mix)
    • If you are making the turkey and have room in your freezer, then buy your turkey now!
  • One week before:
    • Get a final head count
      • Email everyone just to make sure they are still coming and to find out about any surprise guests that are tagging along. (My cousins are always bringing school friends)
    • Start cleaning and decorating
      • I suggest doing several cleaning activities a night so you don’t have to tackle it all in one day.  Monday: dust and vacuum, Tuesday: clean the bathrooms, sweep & mop, Wednesday: decorate
  • Two days before:
    • Hit the grocery store for perishable items like bread, milk, eggs, and vegetables
    • Make anything like dips or pies so you don’t have to make everything the day of the party
      • Make sure it will keep two days in the refrigerator before making
  • One day before:
    • Get the table ready
      • Arrange dishes on the table and label each so you know what dish will be used for what recipe
      • I would also note the cooking time and temperature on the label – makes it easier to map out what will be cooked first
    • Tidy up
      • Pick up anything that has gotten tossed around the house since you cleaned
      • Enlist any family members to help tidy up and make the house look and smell nice
  • Day of:
    • Enjoy everyone’s company without being stressed!
    • Make a “Thankful” jar where guests can write what they are thankful for on a piece of paper, and drop in the jar before lunch.  Read each response aloud while you are enjoying the delicious food.
    • Ask the kids to help clean the table and let the dishwasher do all the work.
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