It’s around the corner and I can’t wait! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (trumped only by Christmas) and I start preparing for it weeks in advance. If you have ever hosted Thanksgiving or will be doing so this year, then you know that besides being an endearing holiday, it can be stressful. There are so many dishes that need to be prepared on this day. Some dishes are such staples that people feel like if they didn’t have them, it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving. All this can put pressure on the hostess to have all the favorites on the table – pumpkin pie, pecan pie, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole. Ok, I’m now starving.
I thought I would do a 2-part post detailing the plan that I follow year-after-year that keeps me sane and my guests happy. You know that I make lists for everything and that includes dinner parties. But this is “the dinner party of dinner parties” and without a detailed plan, I can’t imagine it tuning out well. It’s just too many items to rely on just memory, so get out the note pad.
After confirming the guests that are attending, I:
Set the Thanksgiving Menu
Write down which dishes you will make and the ones that your guests will bring. I only ask my guests to bring items that are served room temperature or cold. This will lessen the stress later on when someone shows up with cold sweet potatoes that need to heat up in an oven that is already full.
Make a Thanksgiving Binder
Once you have your list of dishes, print out or make a copy of the recipe. Before I created a Thanksgiving binder, I used to fumble year-after-year through my recipes wondering “was this the mashed potato recipe that everyone liked last year?”. I decided to dedicate a small binder (a folder will do) to holding all my Thanksgiving favorites. In there I have the recipes and the timeline that I use year after year, since we always eat at the same time. I place all the recipes inside clear plastic protectors, just in case there is a spill on the sheet.
Make a List of Grocery Items
I make a list of all the ingredients that I need and I separate them into perishable and non-perishable. You can go ahead and purchase the non-perishables right away and leave the other items for the week of your dinner.
Clean out Your Refrigerator
This is not the week to stock up on items that are not Thanksgiving related. You will need the space to place covered casseroles that you make ahead-of-time and also for leftovers after your dinner is done. Make sure your refrigerator is clean and only holding the essentials.
Make Sure Your Oven is Clean
Any spill that is currently inside your oven can cause the oven to smoke up on Thanksgiving day. I always clean my oven the week before and I try to place a sheet pan under items that are known to spill, such as cobblers.
Also, if you store pots inside your oven, this is a great time to move them elsewhere. You will need all the oven space that you can get.
Iron Linens and Wash Glasses
Have you ever pulled out a glass (especially the ones that rarely get used) for a dinner party, just to find that they are dirty or murky? Cleaning all your glassware can be time consuming and should be done the week prior to alleviate pressure and time constraints the week of your party. I love knowing that my plates and linens are clean and ready for the big day.
This is only Part One and it’s mostly suggestions for the week prior to Thanksgiving week. I will share Part Two in a few days and that will be full of tips for the week of Thanksgiving. I hope you found this helpful! I know that it can seem overwhelming to have so many items on your to-do list, but I promise that if you have a good, clear plan you will enjoy your dinner along with your guests!
What are your favorite Thanksgiving dinner tips?
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Great advice! I can’t wait to host holidays this year!
XO Ellen from Ask Away
Thank you, Ellen! I also can’t wait!
Rachel Maldonado says
I used to go crazy trying new and exciting recipes. Now, to minimize stress I work with a set menu which will include everyone’s favorite. I limit something new to just one side.
That’s a good idea. It’s not the day to try out a bunch of new recipes.