Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful, making it easy to lose sight of what’s important. Whether this is your first year hosting and you’re frozen with indecision, or you regularly get put on the spot and want to find an easier way to get things done, it’s possible to enjoy your day with some careful preparation and planning.
Two to Three Weeks Before Thanksgiving
- Make Your Plan
Before you do anything else, make sure you know when your big event will take place. Thanksgiving always falls on the fourth Thursday of November. If you haven’t done so yet, think about how you will serve your meal and where guests will sit. This will drive some of your other decisions.
- Create a Menu
When creating your Thanksgiving menu, choose dishes that are known and simple. This isn’t the time to experiment. There’s nothing more stressful than promising your guests Turducken and having no idea how to fix it.
- Shopping Trip #1
From your menu, you can create a grocery list. Many items can be purchased well in advance so you can focus on the perishables later in the process. This includes your turkey. To ensure you buy a large enough bird and have enough for leftovers, allow for about one pound of turkey per guest.
One Week Before Thanksgiving
- Arrange the Decor
Don’t wait until the day before your meal to think about decorations and table settings. Taking care of these items a week (or several days) in advance will take some of the stress off of your holiday.
- Shopping Trip #2
Your second shipping trip should go much quicker because you are only focusing on perishable items and anything you might have missed on the first trip. This is the day you’ll want to pick up things like milk, eggs, cheese, and vegetables.
- Take a Careful Inventory
As the holiday approaches, ensure you have everything you need for cooking and serving. Do you have enough serving dishes and utensils? A turkey thermometer? Stores won’t be open on Thanksgiving day to grab these items.
- Begin Cooking Well in Advance
If you can, begin cooking up to five days in advance. You can freeze things like casseroles, gravy bases, and veggies for several days after cooking. Advanced meal prep will make the main event go much more smoothly.
- Clean the Kitchen
Clean your kitchen as you go. If you allow pots and pans to pile up, it will become overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
- Start Your Day Early
The early bird gets the worm when it comes to hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving. There’s a lot to get done, especially if you plan on serving a meal in the afternoon.
- Roast the Perfect Turkey
Research Thanksgiving turkey recipes well in advance so you have a game plan for the big day. This will ensure you know the right cooking time for your bird as well as how to prepare and serve it properly.
- Keep Food Warm
Calculate how much time other dishes will take to cook and strategically keep everything warm so you won’t serve cold food. For example, you can use a slow cooker to keep rice or mashed potatoes warm and even store food in your microwave (it’s insulated).
- Consider Serving Buffet Style
You know what will work best with your guests. For many, it’s less stressful to set out all the delicious items and have guests serve themselves buffet style.
- Have Leftover Containers Handy
You will surely want leftovers, and your guests will appreciate being able to take something home after the meal. You can speed up this process and reduce waste by having some leftover containers at the ready.
- Remember to Enjoy the Day
The most important thing is to remember to spend some quality time. If you’re stressed and running around in the kitchen constantly, this will be a challenge. When you need help, ask for it. And don’t be afraid to laugh at your mistakes. Those will make some of the best holiday stories for years to come!
Get Your Thanksgiving Ingredients at Nick’s of Clinton
Now that you know how to host a stress-free Thanksgiving, you can begin planning and prepping for the big day. Nick’s of Clinton wants to help. Our full-service meat counter is the centerpiece of our store. We also offer a wide variety of fresh ingredients and even some ready-made items.
Whether you have a list prepared and know exactly what you need or would like some suggestions, let us know how we can offer assistance. We take pride in delivering high-quality products at affordable prices. Give us a call at (301) 843-2825 or stop by our store today.