Ahhhh….another Tuesday Tidbits and only two days until Thanksgiving! Is it just me or does it feel like Thanksgiving came super early this year? Add in our crazy early winter weather and I’m just completely thrown off with my routine.
We have been busy doing some projects around the house (that blasted trim is still being dealt with) and we have also been preparing for Thanksgiving. We will host a large group this year. Having hosted many large groups from Thanksgiving and Christmas to baby showers and bridal showers, I thought I would share a few of my tips. Maybe you already do these things, maybe you have better tips, maybe I just had to learn the hard way….but if you don’t do these, try them. I guarantee they will save you a little headache and that slightly panicked feeling we all get during the busy season.
- Deep clean your home (whatever your version is) the WEEK before the party. In my younger days, I would save the deep cleaning for the day prior thinking this was the only way to have the house looking perfect. It’s a nightmare. I have learned that deep cleaning it the week before (light fixtures, baseboards, etc) and then just doing my usual cleaning the day before is much better.
- Do anything you can ahead of time. This year I will peel potatoes the night before, make the cornbread the night before, have the dough for homemade bread all ready to go into the oven.
- Have all dishes (whether you use paper or china) in one location and ready to place. It seems a little silly, but save any steps you can. Running around your kitchen trying to remember what cabinet you shoved the Thanksgiving napkins in is a time waster. Plus, it will just make you feel frenzied. I actually decide what serving dishes and place settings I’ll be using ahead of time. Then I place them all in one cabinet. That way, if I need help on the day of the party it is SUPER easy to point someone to one cabinet and have everything available.
- Do a dress rehearsal. Laugh all you want and call me crazy, but I’m right on this one. Wherever you plan to place all your food/drinks/desserts, go ahead an pull out those serving dishes the week before. You’ll be shocked at how it may not fit exactly as you thought it would. This gives you time to adjust. This also allows the chance to wipe each serving dish down the week before (another time saver).
- Get up early. If you do a true dinner-time meal, you won’t need to do this. My family has generally eaten Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner around the lunch hour. The only way to not be running late is to get up early. Because of the way I roast my turkey, I get up around 6am and prep it for the oven. I then get a few other items ready that take longer. After I spend 30-45 minutes doing this, I sometimes go back to bed for an hour or so.
- This tip is for the women: shower, but don’t get totally “ready.” I sure hope I’m not the only one who is this way, but when I put together something like Thanksgiving meal, it takes EFFORT. So, I get cleaned up in the morning but I pull my hair back (obviously…food prep) and I don’t put on any make-up. Also, I don’t put on whatever outfit I plan to wear for the day…I put on sweats or something comfy. When I’m about 90 minutes from guests arriving, I take a few minutes to put on my make-up and change into my outfit. Instead of sitting down to eat feeling like I just finished another marathon, I feel fresh.
- Don’t try anything new on race day. Speaking of marathons, this is a tip I have learned from running and it’s true in this case as well. Today is not the day to try a new method for cooking the turkey. Today is not the day to try out a new recipe for sweet potato casserole you found on Pinterest. Resist the temptation! It will most likely not end well. If you want to prepare a new dish, try it out ahead of time…do not try anything new on Thanksgiving morning.
- Actually write or print out your menu timeline. I personally start mine on my phone and then transition it over to a written list a couple of days before. This is exactly as it sounds: I decide when we are eating and work the timeline backwards. If mashed potatoes take 30 minutes and you want to eat at 2pm, they need to be going before 1:30. We are blessed to have multiple ovens in our kitchen, but even still I like to know when each dish goes in the oven at each time frame.
- Know that you can fudge a little. As a non-kitchen person it took me awhile to learn this. With the exception of meat, you can basically manipulate your oven/cooking times to fit your schedule. Everything can be cooked a little longer at lower temps or a little shorter at higher temps…making it easy to throw in multiple dishes to one oven.
- You do YOU! Everyone has their thing that they are good at (maybe even great). Today is the day to milk it!! We have a neighbor who is an amazing host. It doesn’t matter what the event is or what the food is, she is simply the hostess with the mostest. I have a close friend who is an amazing chef and she is able to whip up just about any dish. Anything she makes is incredible! With both of these people, I leave their home thinking about the really great part and not noticing if they were perfect at the other stuff. As a 40-something adult, I have only recently learned this lesson. When it comes to entertaining, find the one thing you are good at and go for it with gusto! Try to make the other parts as decent as possible, but don’t concentrate on making them better…concentrate on making your good quality the best! If you are an amazing decorator, then decorate away. People will leave talking about your decor and never realize that you were a mediocre chef. If you are an amazing chef, people will leave thinking about how great the food was and never notice that your home was lacking Pinterest-worthy decor. You do YOU.
Disclaimer: This post is intended to be helpful. At the end of the day, most people just want to be around friends/family and have a good time…meaning: none of this really matters.
Thank you for following along, have a wonderful week and A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!