Thanksgiving is a time for families to take a break from the daily grind and share a meal together while pondering all the things to be thankful for. It can also be a time when you go crazy trying to cook, clean, and decorate simultaneously. So here are some tips to help you prepare for the big day without losing your marbles.
- Save Money by Planning Ahead
The earlier you start, the better. Start with a list of things you'd like to serve and the ingredients you need to cook them. Plan ahead as well the various kitchenware and utensils you'll need to cook and serve everything. Make sure you have enough plates, glasses, and silverware for your guests. Having a list ready will come in handy during shopping time, especially when there’s a sale! It also helps to think ahead and figure out who has a crock pot you can borrow, who has a big serving platter for the turkey, and who can chip in and bring other stuff for Thanksgiving day.
- Decorate Simply but not Cheap
Thanksgiving is all about fall and harvest so decorating can be super simple and inexpensive. Hollow out apples and little pumpkins for earthy candle holders and arrange dishes of unshelled nuts for simple touches. If you have kids, enlist their help to create hand-turkey place cards for your table. Then, dispatch them to the park to pick up a few pine cones, twigs, and colorful leaves to arrange in a bowl with a few tiny pumpkins or gourds for a simple centerpiece.
- Prep Early
Instead of waking up at 3:00 in the morning to start prepping, here's a list of things you can do ahead of time to make the big day a breeze:
- Rolls & Biscuits. These can be made a few days early and refrigerated or weeks early and frozen. Pop in the oven for a quick reheat while you're carving the bird.
- Gravy. Traditional gravy requires waiting until the last second because you need all the goodness from the roasting pan. Or, you can make it ahead of time by roasting wings and legs and then take all the time you need to get it perfect. Keep in the fridge for a couple days or freeze for up to two weeks.
- Chop Vegetables. Carrots, celery, and onions can all be chopped several days in advance and stored in zip-top bags in the refrigerator.
- Prep Potatoes. Did you know you can wash potatoes in the dishwasher? Run them through a rinse cycle and you're done. You can also peel them the day before, immerse them in water and store in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.
- The Day Before
As you scurry around for last-minute cleaning and decorating, here's a few things to check in the kitchen so you'll be ready. First, clear the countertops of everything you don't need. Even if this means stashing the toaster on your dresser for the day, you'll be happy to have the extra room. Next, make sure your turkey is completely thawed. Even fresh turkeys can be slightly frozen in the middle and you don't want to find a half-frozen bird on Thanksgiving morning. Then, run through your menu and set out all the cooking and serving dishes and double-check ingredients so you'll be ready to roll in the morning. Finally, take a breath, relax and enjoy the day. It is Thanksgiving after all.