First, figure out whom you're hosting. How many people will you have? Make sure you have enough chairs, tables, dishes, glasses, and silverware. (If not, you can always borrow or pick up fancy disposable dishes and silverware... which will only help when it comes time to clean up.)
Think about the menu -- will you try something new, will you stick with standbys, are you making sure that not all of your dishes will have to go in the oven at once? (It's always suggested not to try anything new when you're hosting a dinner, but I can't give you that advice as I never follow it. I find that I really want to try new recipes at dinners like this. All I'll say is make sure you read and reread a new recipe so you know everything it entails before getting started.)
Read through all of the recipes you plan to make, and schedule your time. Figure out what things you can make ahead of time and reheat and what things absolutely have to be made on Turkey Day.
Plan to get your turkey in the oven as early as possible so you can get it out of the oven and have the oven available for everything else you need to make. (And if you get a frozen turkey, remember that it can take days for it thaw. I've heard you should allow 1 day for every 4 pounds.)
Don't overdo it. Sometimes I think I'm superwoman and can do it all, but then I have to remind myself to think logically. There's only so much time, oven space, and fridge space, so take some time to think about how much you're taking on and whether it's feasible.
Don't do everything yourself. If people offer to bring things or offer to help, let them. Thanksgiving at my parents' house is a lot of fun because everyone will bring dishes they're known for. My grandma usually brings turnip, my aunt brings her carrot-cheddar casserole, my dad's cousin brings fruit salad, and my parents take care of the big-ticket items like the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and soup. When I'm able to head home for the holiday, I bring dessert. (And when we go to Jeff's parents' house, I bring dessert.)
Once you have all of the above figured out, make yourself a to-do list. Not only will it keep you organized but it will also help you feel accomplished and relieve any stress you might be feeling as you cross things off the list.
One last trick... make sure to set out drinks and some cheese and crackers (or other easy appetizer, emphasis on easy) just before guest are supposed to arrive. That way, if you're still busy in the kitchen, they can help themselves and you won't feel like you have to stop what you're doing.
|Courtesy of Butterball|
In addition to asking me to share some tips with you to make your Thanksgiving a little easier, Butterball would like to make Thanksgiving a little easier for two of my readers by offering you a coupon for a free turkey ($15 value)!
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment with any Thanksgiving tips you have.
Please comment by November 15, 2011, at 11:59 pm EST.
Full disclosure: Butterball also sent me a free turkey coupon.