The holidays are a time of the year that can create joy, memorable experiences, or they can result in high levels stress and frustration. Especially, if you are traveling to visit your family or if you are hosting the big holiday dinner.
The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun and families are starting to make plans for the holidays. As the host, it is important to keep in mind that the holidays are just like any other day, except that you are making an elevated dinner, adding a few more touches to the table, and you are cooking for a little bit more people than you normally do. It is important to maintain a sense of humor, keep it light and comfortable (with a cocktail a short distance away), and enjoy the evening.
High levels of stress can be eliminated by organizing yourself. Use the Wunderlist app to develop and manage ongoing lists, shopping list, and a “to do” list for the house.
Remember to give yourself plenty of time to set up the guestrooms for the guests that are staying overnight. Check the china and clean the silverware, organize the glassware, the serving platters, and don’t forget to pull out the board/card games. These board games are important to keep the children and your guests busy and entertained. Once your guests arrive, delegate. Your guests will feel that they are contributing and this will give you time to focus.
In the kitchen, don’t be a superwoman or superman. Inevitably, glasses will break, things will burn, and the dinner timeline will be off a little. Keep in mind that people are totally unpredictable so don’t worry about the things that are out of your control. Remember that life happens so don’t let the little things alter your mood.
Use this guide and direct your attention to making a delicious dinner and enjoying the evening. Whether you are responsible for hosting dinner, bringing a side dish, or baking pies, it is important to put together a plan. For a successful holiday celebration, start implementing 10 tips for Thanksgiving.
Arugula salad with blackberries or Parsnip and butternut squash soup, Mustard-crusted turkey breast, Turkey gravy, Cranberry sauce, Farro and sweet potato dressing, Al dente green beans, glazed sweet potatoes, pumpkin tart or pie.
- Clean out your pantry to make space for additional items. Clear out the garage. If you live in cities where the climate is cold, the garage is a great area to store soft drinks, beer, water, and produce or vegetables that just need to be slightly chilled.
- When you start developing your holiday menu, plan for more people than you expect. Why this works? If you have unexpected guests, you are already covered. The plus side is that you are going to be left with leftovers and there are several ways to use leftovers the next day. The leftovers are a great meal plan and it reduces the cooking time considerably the following day. Don’t be limited to just sandwiches because you can make a hash with leftover stuffing, a soup using the leftover bones (save the bones), or a casserole using the leftover vegetables and meat.
- Order a fresh organic range-grown turkey. Why? Although you will pay slightly more for a fresh organic range-grown turkey, the expense is well worth it. For several years now, I have used Diestel turkeys. In my opinion, the flavor of a Diestel turkey is the best in the market. This is HUGE! Since the turkeys are fresh, the turkeys require very little prep work. Simply mince a mixture of fresh herbs with olive oil and that is it. No need to brine for 24 hours taking up space in your fridge. The plus side is that a fresh turkey will cook a lot faster. The meat is always juicy and the flavor is unparalleled. At Whole Foods, you can order a Diestel turkey the second week in November.
- Purchase all of your beverages such as liquor, mixers, and soft-drinks at least two weeks before. Sharpen knives. This includes carving knife and the chef’s knife that you will use to chop and dice all of your vegetables. Take time to closely inspect your peeler/s. If the blades are dull, replace the peeler. Similarly, inspect your roasting pan. If you are planning to get a larger bird this year, ensure that it will fit in the roasting pan, and inside the oven. If you have not used the oven recently, test it and make sure the meat thermometer works.
- Start a developing the menu and begin a grocery list two weeks before. You are probably going to be shopping at various grocery stores to get everything you need so don’t procrastinate. Start by purchasing non-perishable items like bake goods, dry snacks, canned goods, vinegar, oils, four, etc.
- November 14th, prepare all of the pie dough. Separate dough into individual balls, place inside a plastic bag, and freeze.
- November 22d, finish all grocery shopping. Organize and clean the refrigerator and freezer.
- November 24th, defrost pie dough by removing it from the freezer to the refrigerator. Pick-up turkey or turkey breast and finalize any last-minute shopping.
- November 25th, prepare pie filling and bake pies. To save time, make the following ahead: the gravy, cranberry sauce, soup, dressing, chop and dice all vegetables needed for the next day. Set the table.
- November 26th, while the turkey breast roasts, prepare sweet potatoes and green beans. Bring the cranberry sauce to room temperature and while the turkey rests, heat gravy, soup, and dressing. Happy Thanksgiving and be grateful for the people that surround your table.