This year marks my 25th year making Thanksgiving dinner for my family. At different times that meant a cozy dinner for upward of 30 people. Have I had disasters? Of course! But I get better every year.
Although I still forget to put the rolls on the table. Every. Stinkin’. Time.
Here is my blueprint to a successful dinner that will be enjoyed by your guests and also by you, the stress-free host.
1. Make a menu ASAP and then discard half of it. Seriously. We get overly-ambitious and want to try everything we see on Pinterest. Now isn’t the time. No one wants to eat salad out of mason jars. Stick to family favorites and you’ll be thankful you did.
2. Accept help. Delegate what you can. If you’re hosting, you should prepare the turkey and therefore the gravy because they won’t transport well but everything else can be up for grabs.
People really like to contribute, so let ’em!
3. When you’ve got your recipes selected, make a monster shopping list divided by the aisles of the store; dairy, produce, canned, frozen. Separate what can be purchased in advance and do so – now! Especially the turkey. Make a “last-minute” list for perishables, like salad greens, and plan to pick them up on Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Not Wednesday. Items sell out and you might need that extra day to make other plans.
4. Know when to defrost your turkey! Rule of thumb – four pounds per day. So a 25-pound turkey takes six days!
5. Prepare as much in advance as possible. Make pies, chop veggies, pre-measure ingredients.
6. Make an oven schedule. Work backward from the time you want to serve dinner and plan for
each dish. This includes warming dishes brought by guests. Use your microwave and crockpot to ease stovetop congestion. Remember the turkey should rest for at least 45 minutes and you can use that time to reheat side dishes.
7. Set the table the night before, including all the serving dishes and utensils. Label serving dishes with post-it notes so guests can help put things on the table. This way if you see an empty dish you know you’ve forgotten something, like the rolls (note to self).
8. Plan to have beverages, cocktails, and simple appetizers ready before guests arrive to remove the stress of starving people poking their heads into the kitchen. Choose simple appetizers that can be left at room temperature, like cruditÃ©s, olives, bruschetta, cheese and crackers. When in doubt, pop open a bottle of bubbly to get the party started.
9. Plan some activity for guests before dinner. Crafts and games for the kids. Don’t fight the
football, you’ll lose. Put out some family photo albums as blackmail fodder.
10. Most importantly: remember to be thankful. Be grateful for every little thing, the kids, the pets, the in-laws, the laughter and the mess. We get a finite number of holidays to celebrate so be present enough to enjoy this one. If something goes wrong, so what? If dinner’s late, so what?
What’s important is being with friends and family and for that – give thanks!
Frugal Festivity contributed by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal Meets Fabulous! www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.