Thanksgiving is fun for most families, but the planning can be stressful. Whoever is hosting thanksgiving will want to make sure everything is planned properly so the meal will be perfect. Whether the plan is just to eat dinner with extended family or it's a huge event with watching football and playing games together, planning the meal needs to be done right. If you're getting ready to host Thanksgiving this year, use the following tips to make sure it's perfect.
Start Planning Early
It's never too early to start planning. Consider the foods that will be eaten, how the table will be set up, and more. If you're planning on having a selection of cookies at Thanksgiving dinner, now's a great time to start looking at recipes. Go through the dishes, pots, pans, and other cooking equipment to see if there's anything that needs to be purchased, as well. The earlier this is done, the easier it is to purchase extra supplies and make sure everything is on hand for Thanksgiving cooking.
Make a Lot of Lists
Lists are a great way to keep track of everything. Use a notebook or app just for Thanksgiving planning to keep all of the lists organized. Then, create a list of foods to eat, ingredients to purchase, foods or tasks for others to handle, and more. Listing everything out may seem like a lot of work, but it's going to prevent something crucial from going wrong when it's time to cook and can help prevent last-minute dashes to the store the day before Thanksgiving to buy something that was forgotten.
Give Others Things to Do
It's a lot of work to put together a Thanksgiving feast, so get others to help. Have someone drop off plates, cups, cutlery, and other supplies ahead of Thanksgiving so it's easy to see what else is needed. If people are traveling from far away, it's possible to purchase supplies online and ship them so they arrive on time. For those who are local, making side dishes could be a good idea. Have someone handle the cranberry sauce or the green bean casserole so you have one less thing to think about cooking on your own before dinner.
Start Shopping Early On
Cooking equipment, shelf-stable products like canned goods, and frozen items can all be purchased far ahead of time. Cross them off the list and keep them organized in the pantry or freezer so you know what has already been purchased. Even though fresh ingredients may need to be bought closer to Thanksgiving day, buying as much as possible early can break up the cost of everything and make it easier to get everything that's needed without one huge grocery trip.
Plus, even though turkeys go on sale right before Thanksgiving, they do freeze well and can be purchased ahead of time to make sure there's one and the stores don't run out at the last minute. Often, the only turkeys left in the store the day before Thanksgiving or on Thanksgiving day are frozen, and there may not be enough time to thaw larger turkeys. If one is purchased ahead of time, be sure to take it out in enough time to thaw if a frozen turkey is purchased.
Start Prep Work a Few Days Early
It's not necessary to do all of the cooking on Thanksgiving day. In fact, it may not be possible, depending on the kitchen. If there are only four burners and one stove, like most kitchens, there simply isn't enough room to cook everything at once. Instead, start the prep work at least a few days before Thanksgiving. Foods that can be refrigerated for a few days will taste great reheated right before dinner and it saves time not having to cook it all at once.
Check out recipes for sides like pumpkin dinner rolls that are easy to make a day or two ahead of Thanksgiving and plan on cooking or baking and storing them until it's time to eat. Also, look into sides that can be made a week or further ahead of time and frozen. Many foods freeze well either before or after they're cooked. Even if foods are frozen before cooking, this still saves time as the prep work for the food is already done. If they're frozen after cooking, all that's needed is thawing and reheating to make sure they're ready to eat.
Clean the House and Set the Table
At least a few days before Thanksgiving, start cleaning the house and getting ready for guests to arrive. Clean the towels, put fresh sheets on guest beds in case anyone spends the night or needs to lie down for a while and get away from the noise of the party, and make sure any main areas of the house are clean and ready for people to see. Doing this ahead of time means more time can be taken to ensure everything is done right and the stress of cleaning before guests can be reduced. While cleaning, if possible, set the table, as well. This gives you one less thing to worry about on Thanksgiving day, and you can take time to enjoy decorating the table before the guests arrive.
Plan for Cleaning Up
There's going to be a lot of mess during Thanksgiving, so plan for this as well. Have cleaning supplies in an easy-to-reach location to tackle spills quickly. Keep extra trash bags around for paper products as well as leftover foods or anything else that needs to be thrown away. Start soaking any dishes that may be hard to clean as soon as dinner is done, and go ahead and rinse and stack any plates or cooking equipment that will need to be cleaned so the cleaning doesn't need to start right after dinner.
If you're hosting Thanksgiving this year, there's no need to panic about doing it all on your own. Instead, use the tips here to help you organize the perfect Thanksgiving and everyone will have a fantastic time.