Planning Thanksgiving Dinner
Here is FlyLady’s list for a stress-free Thanksgiving:
- Make sure the house is clean and kept ready for company while you cooked.
- Get your dishes ready for the table several days ahead of time. Get out your table cloths and center piece. Have you thought about a center piece yet? Don’t forget the silverware and serving dishes. Make sure they are all clean ready for the table. Either set the table, if you do not have to use it, or put the dishes aside for the time being on a clean counter and cover with a dish towel. I have a cat. LOL! Cover the whole table with a clean sheet if you set it ahead of time. Now the table is set and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. You will even have time to fold napkins and do cutesy stuff to the table because you are not rushed. It’s a Martha S. Moment. LOL!
- Make out your menu for the dinner. Examine your recipes and pick your family favorites. Also try one new thing. Surprises are always nice. It could become a new family tradition. Pick out some things that can be made ahead of time and put into the refrigerator until time to cook or serve. Some salads need to be made a day or two ahead of time so that the flavors meld.
- Make out a grocery list. Check the recipes for items you have on hand and list the ones you need to buy. Think of everything you will need. From stuffing to eggs, beverages to desserts. What is the main dish?
- Clean out your refrigerator. Really good. Make room for covered dishes.
- Go shopping early in the day or the day before you start to cook.
- TODAY! Make an appointment calendar for your cooking. Especially for the day you are serving the dinner. You can’t have everything in the oven at once. So plan on what needs to go in the oven and stagger it according to how long they need to cook or can they cook together if you have room. This is when I would love to have 2 ovens.
- At the top of this appointment calendar, write: Only prepare ONE DISH at a time. Set a time for each particular item on the menu. Follow this schedule, allowing plenty of time to clean up after preparing each item. Don’t forget to thaw the turkey or ham. LOL Write it on your list.
- Cook or prepare something each day for 3 days. If you divide the work out over 3 days, you will have time to plan something fun with the kids and you will have the energy to do it. You can do dessert and many salads early. Throw together casseroles. Pick items for your menus that allow you to make ahead. This way you are only popping in the oven and setting it on the table.
- When you start to cook, make sure the dishwasher and sinks are empty. Run hot soapy water in the sink, so you can clean up as you go. Remember to only prepare one item at a time and clean up after yourself as you go. DO NOT START A NEW PREPARATION UNTIL THE MESS IS CLEANED UP FROM THE PREVIOUS DISH. I MEAN THIS. I can hear you know. “Oh I can do two things at once.” Do you remember how overwhelmed you get and the feeling from turning around in circles in your kitchen floor because you don’t know what to do next. Focus on one item at a time. This relieves all the stress. I promise. Your kitchen will be clean too. That is the biggest stress reliever.
- Don’t forget the rolls. This is a family tradition in our home. Someone always forgets the bread. LOL! So from now on, I buy the frozen roll dough at the grocery store. It is wonderful. All you do is read the directions. They are on the back. LOL and put them in the pan to rise 3 hours before your meal. Put this on your schedule. 3 to 4 hours ahead of meal time. They have to rise and then be cooked. READ. But they are great. Everyone thinks they were made from scratch. A new family tradition. LOL
- Give everything a time on the calendar. But if you don’t look at it, you won’t follow your plan. Take your calendar or notebook with the schedule written on it and Put it on the refrigerator or on the counter. Look at it every hour. It has your next few days planned out. Guess what? You don’t even have to think now, you just have to read, the thinking has already been done. Keep your recipe with this notebook too.
One word of warning: Do not let your sink become a catch-all. Put everything away as you use it and wash up all your dishes. Then you can start the next preparation.
If you want to have a wonderful family celebration, the hostess does not need to be exhausted and at her wits end. You can do this. If I can, anyone can.
One other thing: get dressed in a nice jumper and put on an apron while you cook. I don’t know why, but I always feel so festive when I cook with an apron on. Have your hair fixed and your face looking good too. No sense scaring the guests.
Holiday celebrations are special memories for your children and family. Make them memorable, in a way that only you can do. You are blessing your family with your efforts. Don’t be a Martyr. Enjoy and love every moment of the preparation.
Wishing you all the joy and happiness that Thanksgiving brings. This is my favorite holiday!