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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Getting Organized for Thanksgiving

We haven't decided yet where we'll have Thanksgiving this year - at our house or our daughter's. Nevertheless, wherever it is, I'm sure we'll both be pitching in to pull it off. 

What about you? Hosting Thanksgiving this year? Don't despair - there's plenty of help out there! 

Disney Printable Planner 
Even Micky and Minnie can help. Disney offers a Thanksgiving printable planner with several different lists, including a countdown schedule for Thanksgiving Day.  

Thanksgiving 101
How to Set the TableIf you're a novice, or are feeling a little inadequate in some area, Taste of Home offers Thanksgiving 101. They have tutorials on everything from making gravy to setting the table . 

Thanksgiving Survival Guide
And here's a Thankgsiving Survival Guide written by Aviva Goldfarb on Cozi

"I get the jitters before hosting almost any gathering. But with all the build-up to Thanksgiving, it feels like the stakes are even higher than usual. To keep it in perspective, I try to remember what is most important-to be with family and friends and appreciate our blessings. But if I'm hosting the feast, I still have a lot of work to do! I've devised some strategies for making the evening easier on us, while still indulging our guests:  

Don't try to do it alone 
Just because I love to cook, doesn't mean I have to do it all! If anyone volunteers to bring something, I take them up on it. I also try to involve the kids with the preparation, either by asking them to make place cards or table decorations, or clean the house. (A friend of mine cherishes the Thanksgiving tablecloth her kids made on which they traced their hands in fall colors and wrote what they were thankful for.) 

Make a menu ahead of time 
By the Sunday before the feast, I make a list of everything we are serving, from appetizers to coffee. I note who is making each item and when I need to start my assignments. I even jot down my daily tasks on my calendar.  

Grocery shop early 
I make a detailed grocery list (consulting the menu I've decided on) and buy the groceries by Tuesday, so I can start cooking on Wednesday.  

Cook in advance 
Most of the trimmings can be cooked well in advance of dinner, and then warmed before the meal. Even the turkey can be finished cooking (we even slice it!) hours before the meal. (Just put that Norman Rockwell image of the father cutting the bird at the table out of your mind!)  

Get the house and table ready the night before 
To avoid exhaustion on the big day, I make sure the house looks nice and the table is set before I go to bed on Wednesday.  

Keep appetizers easy 
Before dinner, I serve simple foods, such as gourmet cheeses, nuts, store-bought gourmet spread for crackers, vegetables and dip, and fresh popcorn.  

Send the kids out for a picnic and sports before the meal 
This strategy, suggested by my friend and colleague, Jeanne Rossomme, frees the kitchen for the big feast, and calms the kids so there is a higher probability of civilized behavior when guests arrive. Have plastic containers ready so you can pack up leftovers This makes clean-up easier. But save a slice of cooked turkey breast for next week's recipe for turkey pot pie!  

Take the last thirty minutes off 
An experienced hostess once told me that I should try to hold sacred the last half hour before guests arrive. I use this time to get myself cleaned up and put my feet up for a few minutes. That way I'm not utterly exhausted before the evening begins.  

Give thanks and eat slowly 
After sitting down, each guest shares one thing for which they are thankful. This simple tradition really sets the right mood. Then we enjoy the feast we've all helped to prepare, and we try to remember to savor the time together after all our hard work." 

Happy Planning!! 

More on Thanksgiving:
Organizing Your To Do List
Everything You Need to Know to Pull Off Thanksgiving
Three Steps to Planning Dinner