Ask Design Mom Week — Thanksgiving Prep

November 2, 2009

Question:
I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year. Any tips to make it less stressful?
Rebecca



Answer:
Great question! There are a few things I like to do in late October or early November to help my Thanksgiving prep.

1) Get my kitchen knives sharpened. Your guests will likely be helping you in the kitchen. You won’t want them using crummy tools.

2) Take inventory of your dinnerware/china and utensils. Do you have enough place settings for all your guests? Have you lost a few random spoons over the last year? (Spoons are notorious for getting thrown out with yogurt cups or lost in the sandbox.) If you have any gaps to fill in, this is the time to place your orders. I’ll be adding more silverware this year — my preferred pattern is Old Denmark by Yamazaki.

3) Ask guests if there are any particular foods or recipes that will make or break Thanksgiving for them and add those recipes to your menu. For example, personally, I have a particular veggie dip that I’m totally homesick for if I don’t get a bite at Thanksgiving.

What about you Dear Readers? What are your best tips for preparing for Thanksgiving?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melanie November 3, 2009 at 2:31 pm

I usually concentrate on expanding my stomach.

My mom? She plans on scheduling her oven appropriately and often uses a neighbor's oven in order to have everything ready at the same time.

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2 SarahSews November 3, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I wish everyone followed your tips. I've been a guest at many a thanksgiving dinner. I can tell you that the years I had to go without Turkey (I was shocked the year I was invited to a T day dinner and found not one recognizable T day food on the menu), and others without cranberry sauce, really helped me narrow down my list of must-haves. Turkey, stuffing/potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Everything else is negotiable.

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3 Anonymous November 3, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Set your table two days before and then close off the dining room. Make all your cassaroles at least one day in advance. Make your cranberries a couple days in advance. They keep forever. You can reheat almost everything if it gets cold before serving except-mash potatoes. Yuck. No the same.

Turkey. If you have a oven that will automatically roast your turkey use that function. Here's what our oven does but you can do it manually too. We soak our bird over night in a rine (saltwater)
1. bird in pan-no cover
2. cover the bones on the legs with foil.
3. Put bird in over. Turn oven to broil (or if your oven uses broil to heat up-set oven for 450)
4. Roast at broil for about 20 mins. keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn.
5. AFter the bird turns golden brown. Turn down your oven to 350-375 and cook until done.

Broil seals the skin which then keeps the moisture in (all that saltwater you soaked into it the night before).

Don't cook too long. it's dry no matter what you do. Watch your cooking times and use a thermometer.

Good Luck. Happy Bird Day.

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4 cory November 3, 2009 at 4:04 pm

I start planning for NEXT year by writing down how many ingredients I will need for cooking and baking so when I see awesome deals at the grocery store in August I can grab up what I need for cheap! I keep it all in a special holidays binder. In this binder I also write gift ideas as they come to mind, and things that I need to remember but don't have the brain space for (which niece is what size, and what her favorite princess is…) for Christmas

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5 dixieandben November 3, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Freeze, Freeze, Freeze! Start cooking some things now and freeze them. My favorite freezable dessert: pumpkin roll.

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6 Katie @ goodLife {eats} November 3, 2009 at 5:06 pm

I like to do prep-work in advance. Get onions and celery diced for stuffing a couple days in advance. Make sure the turkey will be thawed in time, or buy a fresh one. I usually make mashed potatoes the day before. Anything that can be done ahead so the work load is spread out a little makes it way less hectic for me.

Several years ago when I hosted my first Thanksgiving, I settled on a menu. I've stuck pretty close to that menu over the last few years, so I like to keep a copy of the menu and all the recipes printed off in a file folder. Makes doing the shopping so much easier!

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7 maria November 4, 2009 at 9:34 am

Decide on the menu a few weeks in advance and shop for your non-perishables early.

Always get a fresh turkey (so much tastier!).

Never skimp on butter in anything.

Get out all of your serving dishes & serving spoons so you know what gets baked in what (and what you'll need to borrow or purchase).

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8 Lisa November 4, 2009 at 10:00 am

One year my friend and I got together a few days ahead and made all the casseroles together. I would make two casseroles of sweet potatoes and she made two sets of pies. It was great! The SF Chronicle had a great article on Sunday about appetizers and desserts that could be made ahead and frozen…I can't wait to try them! Here is the link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/11/01/FDPS1AB9MB.DTL

Always brine your turkey…I will never skip that step again!

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9 barkingkel November 4, 2009 at 11:02 am

I host every year and most of our guests are my husband's family. They always offer to bring something so I delegate. One SIL brings veggies and rolls. Another does salad and a casserole. A friend brings dessert. My MIL brings her stuffing because she likes it better but I make mine too just a smaller batch. If someone offers take them up on it. They feel like they have contributed and you have less to do. Happy Turkey Day planning.

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10 simplymodernmom.com November 17, 2009 at 9:28 am

Make it fun. And involve the kids. Here's a Thanksgiving garland that is super easy to make and can keep the kids entertained. http://www.simplymodernmom.com/2009/11/thanksgiving-garland/

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