Last week I shared my Thanksgiving dinner menu. Making my menu early allows me time to find the best deals on the ingredients I will be using to make the meal. I don’t just plan my menu plan early, I also start organizing for the party early too. The most important ingredient in a successful dinner party is a relaxed hostess. Planning ahead allows me to be more relaxed ensuring happier guests.
Preparing for Thanksgiving Day
A week before Thanksgiving:
I start preparing my house. If my in-laws will be coming for the holidays I will begin by deep cleaning, so all I have to do is light touch ups the day before Thanksgiving.
Even if my in-laws are not coming, I clean out the refrigerator and organize it. This ensures I have plenty of space to work with.
Order flowers or make a plan for creating my own Thanksgiving Centerpiece.
Check to make sure I have candles.
I double check my menu plan to see what ingredients I still need to buy.
Two days prior:
I check the crystal for water spots and clean the silver.
I also iron the tablecloth if necessary and make sure I have enough matching napkins.
I do one last check to make sure I have absolutely every ingredient that I will need.
The day before Thanksgiving:
If my turkey is frozen, I pull it out of the freezer and place it in the refrigerator to thaw.
I set the table. Turn glasses upside down, so they don’t collect dust.
I pull out all the serving dishes and serving spoons that will be needed and set them on the buffet.
I make the croutons and cook the rice for the Wild Rice Stuffing. Then it can be easily assembled on Thanksgiving morning.
I make fudge and assemble a veggie tray.
Place water, sparkling cider, and white wine in the refrigerator to chill.
On the morning of Thanksgiving:
I place the turkey in the oven.
I bake the wild rice stuffing in a casserole dish rather than in the turkey, so our vegetarian guests can eat it, but also because the turkey cooks faster with an empty cavity. I assemble it in the morning, place it in the refrigerator, and bake it just before dinner.
I make the mashed potatoes and keep them warm in a crock pot. Here are more tips for making perfect mashed potatoes.
I make sure the dish washer is emptied very early in the morning, so I can add dirty dishes immediately. This keeps the kitchen looking tidy.
I probably shouldn’t admit this, but once the turkey is in the oven, I go to Kmart because they always have an awesome sale on Thanksgiving day and they usually have a great deal on one of the toys I plan on buying for one of the kids on my list. It always freaks my husband out, but I can do this and not mess up my schedule because I started planning a week early.
Late Morning/Early Afternoon:
When I get home from shopping, I shower and dress in my party clothes. Put on an apron and prepare the last few items: Pumpkin Pie Spiced Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans with Garlic, and Vanilla Whipped Cream.
Get the coffee maker set up, so all I have to do is push start when it is time for dessert.
Then I take off my apron, and allow myself a few minutes to relax as I prepare for guests to arrive. Guests usually arrive an hour before dinner is served, so I will invite people into the kitchen to chat while I do the last minute items.
The last minute:
Turn the glasses over. Fill water goblets with water and wine glasses with cider or wine.
The turkey usually comes out of the oven 15 minutes prior to dinner allowing me time to heat the rolls and make the gravy, while my husband slices the turkey and my children arrange the other dishes on the buffet.
We take a break between dinner and dessert providing me with time to reheat the pumpkin pie and make coffee.
Most important tip for a great Thanksgiving dinner: Don’t stress!
Thanksgiving always involves a huge feast, there is no need to worry if a dish doesn’t turn out as you hoped. I stick to tried and true recipes to help prevent epic fails on holidays, but things happen and we all have a disaster or two. Laugh at the disaster and take a picture if you are a blogger. Readers love reading about epic failures.
There is not an official start time, so if your turkey is taking longer to cook, put out more appetizers. Or announce that you are serving the meal in “courses”.
The parade and game will be on in the family room, but you can put on music that brings you joy while you are working in the kitchen.
Focus on your many blessings. A slightly dry turkey or lumpy mashed potatoes are pretty insignificant when you put it in perspective!
More Thanksgiving Ideas and Tips:
- Thanksgiving Dinner Menu Plan
- How to Create an Elegant Thanksgiving Centerpiece
- Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids
- Avoid food Waste: Don’t Cook Holiday Food You Don’t Like
- Recipes to Use Up Leftover Turkey
- Brown Bag Thankful Tree
Do you have any tips for making holiday dinner preparations go a little smoother?