Many Sisters and Misters will be hosting the big meal on Thanksgiving this year. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned veteran, here are my top tips for pulling off a fantastic meal without being too flustered and rushed to enjoy your guests!
A few days to a week before:
- Confirm the time with your guests, and what they’ll be bringing if they’ve offered to bring food
- Make a list of what you’re making, and the ingredients you’ll need
- Shop for all ingredients that don’t need to be bought fresh just before using them
- Make Homemade Noodles, make and freeze Apple Strudel, prepare and freeze sweet potato casserole
- Do a pretty thorough cleaning of your house so you’ll just need to do touch-ups throughout the week
2-3 days before:
- If your turkey is frozen, thaw it in your refrigerator
- Do an ingredient inventory, and make a list to shop for anything you still need
- Do any prep work can be done ahead (chopping celery & onions for stuffing, etc.)
- Give the house another once-over so there’s not much cleaning to do on company day
- Plan easy dinners the next few days to keep things simple
- Confirm with guests what they’re bringing if they’re helping with the food
The day before:
- Prep your side dishes–sweet potato casserole (if it’s not already in the freezer), stuffing, and more can be assembled the day before, stored in the refrigerator, and baked the day of your gathering
- Set up tables and chairs, and do any decorating–you’ll want to focus on cooking tomorrow!
- Prepare desserts that will keep until the next day
- Pull out serving dishes and utensils to have them handy so you’re not searching for them when it’s time to get food on the table
- Put cranberry sauce, butter (and anything else you can think) of in their serving dishes and in the fridge so you just have to set them on the table the next day
On the Big Day:
- Start your turkey as early as possible (It’s much easier to keep it warm than to hold up the meal for an undercooked bird!)
- Consider taking the turkey off the bones before your guests arrive. You can keep it warm in a crock pot or roaster with a little broth to keep it moist (a tip I learned from the church ladies…helps with clean-up too!)
- Cut corners where you can–Steam-in-bag veggies in the microwave are part of my game plan again this year!
- Try crock pots for keeping side dishes warm if you’re doing a buffet for a big group. They work great for mashed potatoes, noodles, and more!
- Clean up cooking dishes as you go, then accept clean-up help after the meal (or go simple and use sturdy paper plates!)
- Take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the day. Take time to visit with family and friends once the meal is served–you earned it!
After the meal:
- Freeze some leftovers for future quick meals–cut up cooked turkey can be the base for tons of easy dinners!
- Make stock: throw the turkey carcass in a big pot of water, and let it boil for a few hours. Strain out the bones and other bits, and freeze it for soup and other recipes throughout the winter.
Don’t forget some of our go-to recipes that would be great for Thanksgiving:
- Homemade Noodles (step-by-step directions), Sweet Potato Casserole, and Awesome Thanksgiving Stuffing
- Grandma’s Apple Strudel
- Pumpkin Roll
- Homemade Applesauce
- Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Sugar Glaze
- Pecan Pie Cake
What are your best tips for surviving hosting a big meal like Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear them in the comments or on Facebook. Thanks for sharing!