Stress and Thanksgiving go together like mashed potatoes and gravy. Completely eliminating the stress from Thanksgiving entertaining is probably not going to happen, but I have 4 tried and true tips for tackling Thanksgiving with less stress! A little holiday pre-planning goes a long way. Thanks to Stephanie for sharing these tips with us. Be sure to visit her to grab 55 Free Thanksgiving Printables. (Free stuff helps beat stress too, right?)
#1- Plan early for your Thanksgiving meal. About a month before, brainstorm your Thanksgiving menu by collecting Thanksgiving recipes. Consider dietary restrictions and needs of any guests who will be attending. What special or hard-to-find ingredients do you need to obtain? Are there any new recipes you need to test out before “the big day”?
Once your menu is set, make a list of all of the ingredients that you will need. I suggest dividing your ingredients list into two columns: perishable and non-perishable. Begin purchasing as many non-perishable items as you can, being sure to take advantage of any store sales. Save items like fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, dairy and poultry for purchasing the week of Thanksgiving.
#2- Make room in your refrigerator and pantry for Thanksgiving meal food storage. There is nothing quite like coming home with a carload of groceries to discover there is no space to put them. Prior to Thanksgiving, give your pantry a good reorganization. Throw away empty packages and expired items. Consider donating excess non-perishables to your local food bank. This will clear up some space you can set aside for storing your Thanksgiving ingredients. Ahead of the big feast, follow suit with your refrigerator and freezer. Throw out expired food and condiments and use up leftovers, keeping just the essentials.
#3- Look over your menu and determine a food prep schedule for the week of Thanksgiving. Timing a Thanksgiving meal can be difficult even for the most accomplished culinary genius, but especially when stove and oven space is limited. Taking time to figure out which parts of the meal can be prepared ahead (pies, dicing/chopping, etc…) can be a lifesaver when it comes to saving your oven and stove for day-of musts. Plan to do as much prep work ahead of Thanksgiving as possible (this allows you to also save on clean up during the actual holiday). With the remaining food prep, peek at recipes to determine cook temperatures and times. This will help you determine which items can be in the oven or on the stove simultaneously. Be sure to plan your baking/cooking times with your dinner service time in mind. Be sure to allow extra time for any mishaps or longer cooking time needed.
#4- Set your dining table several days ahead. A beautiful table to dine at seems to make everything taste better, doesn’t it? Juggling the cleaning and the cooking the last couple of days before a big Thanksgiving celebration doesn’t allow much time for setting an elaborate table. Plan to tackle the table several days prior. Choose and press your linens and lay them as the foundation for your table. Decide on china, stemware, flatware and any special Thanksgiving themed centerpieces and accents, such as place cards and/or favors. Play with your tablescape until you are pleased with it.
Taking these 4 tips into consideration will help you prepare for a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration and lessen the stress involved so you can enjoy the day too!