It doesn’t matter if it’s your 10th time playing host for turkey day or your first. You don’t have to wing it. Sure, your family and friends are there to help you through it, but so are we. And we won’t make you feel guilty if you don’t eat our green bean casserole.
At StyleCraft, we understand that home means a lot more over the holidays, especially if you’re inviting your favorite folks over for the big meal. And you want it all to go just right, from everything happening in the kitchen to the sleeping arrangements. Here are some tips:
Grocery Shopping Isn’t a Sprint; It’s a Turkey Trot
Taking a one-trip approach to Thanksgiving grocery shopping is like showing up in a field with a tool box and saying, “I think I’ll build a house today.” Well, not really, but you get the picture. You need a plan to take the stress out of grocery shopping for a big group of family and friends. First, split your list up between perishable and non-perishable items. Knock out the former before the stores get crowded and tackle the latter closer to the big day. You may even visit different stores, a discount grocer for the canned goods and something more local or premium for the fruits, vegetables, and other items with a shorter shelf life. Two last pointers; first, don’t forget to scan your shelves for any needed items before shopping. (You don’t need two full bottles of coriander hanging out in your spice rack.) And second, don’t forget to get the turkey a few days before Thanksgiving. They’re usually frozen. And you don’t want to be the one submerging an icy bird into a hot tub Thanksgiving morning.
Work in Waves
Any Thanksgiving veteran knows that the holiday is won well before the giant inflatable Snoopy floats through Manhattan on the living room’s big screen TV. It’s won in the days leading up to turkey day. This means that while you’re making your shopping lists, you also need to make a schedule of when you’ll cook each of the 10-plus dishes you’re prepping. Some things you’ll be able to make well in advance of Thanksgiving, a few other dishes the night before, and by the time it’s 4 a.m. on Thursday morning — exactly 24 hours before you get up for Black Friday shopping — the rest will be gravy.
You’ve got a lot of dishes to prepare, but do you have enough dishes to prepare them in? You don’t want to be the home chef scrambling on Thanksgiving only to find that you’re short three serving bowls, two casserole dishes and a big pot. There is an easy way to avoid this gaffe; simply pull out your dishes and label each with the dish it will be used for: creamed spinach, cornbread stuffing, etc. Do the same with utensils for some bonus points. Then you’ll know if you’re covered — or need to grab a few extra dishes to avoid taking any lumps on the big day.
Let the Guests Pitch In
While you’re busy in the kitchen, there are plenty of other things to do in preparation (and clean-up) of the Thanksgiving meal: folding napkins, last-minute runs for gluten-free rolls because you forgot about Aunt Edna’s food allergies, and eventually, plenty of dishes to wash. Don’t be bashful about enlisting your guests to help out; just tell them they’ll get to eat (or eat seconds) sooner.
Not everything is going to go smoothly this Thanksgiving. There will be some hiccups and unexpected wrinkles, and not just the ones that come from scarfing down a plate of turkey in 2 minutes or forgetting to iron the table cloth. By planning ahead, you’ll identify many of the potential pitfalls of playing host this Thanksgiving — and you might even find a few minutes to sit back and relax with family and friends.