7 Tips for Planning Thanksgiving Dinner
Thanksgiving, the holiday that brings family and friends together, can also bring on headaches — if you’re not prepared. If the big dinner is happening at your house this year, don’t panic. With careful planning, you can make the holiday extra special. Here are 7 tips for planning Thanksgiving dinner.
1. Make a list, send out invitations
“Making a list” is thought of as a Christmas tradition, but it’s also crucial to pulling together a snafu-free Thanksgiving dinner. An agenda will keep you organized. It’s important to know who will be attending the dinner, so put invitations at the top of your to-do list. Thanks to modern technology, sending out invitations is easier than ever. All you have to do is select a free Thanksgiving invite online and send it by text or email. Guests can also RSVP to your dinner electronically. Text the invites at least a month in advance so that you know how much to buy and cook. Additionally, if someone has a particular food allergy, you can accommodate them.
2. Plan the menu, practice any new recipes
A few weeks before Thanksgiving, begin planning your menu. Thanksgiving isn’t the time to experiment with new dishes. If you must incorporate a recipe you saw online, test it out on immediate family members. If it’s a success, add it to the lineup. Thanksgiving is often a potluck, pulling together contributions from every family member — and their signature dishes. So delegate. Don’t stress yourself out cooking everything on your own. Take the delicious help!
Once you know who’s cooking what, it’s time to grocery shop. Write out a detailed list and try to grab everything in one trip. You want to avoid the Thanksgiving rush! By shopping early, you’ll have time to search for coupons and bargains. You’ll also avoid the lines and the possibility of your item running out of stock.
3. Fresh or fried?
People who fry their turkey on Thanksgiving swear it tastes better than a roasted bird. But deep-frying turkey can be dangerous, so be sure to take the proper precautions if you decide to go that route. Place the deep fryer away from the house and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. If you have a taste for fresh turkey this year, Michigan State University advises buying the bird right before Thanksgiving. Fresh turkeys should be purchased no more than one or two days before the holiday meal. Just make sure you order it a few weeks in advance so you don’t end up birdless on Thanksgiving.
4. Thawing and other preparation
Most of us, though, don’t go for either frying or fresh. We get the frozen bird. The No. 1 mistake cooks make is forgetting to thaw the turkey in time. A 12-pound bird takes three to four days to thaw safely in the fridge.
But it’s not just the turkey that needs advance preparation. Reduce stress in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning by making cranberry sauce and desserts a day or two before. You can make cranberry sauce and pies right now, and freeze them. Just add them to the list so that you remember to pull them out of the freezer in enough time to thaw. You can also chop vegetables for the stuffing ahead of time, too.
5. Store-bought is perfectly fine
Don’t turn your nose up at store-bought items. There’s no shame in buying frozen or ready-made rolls instead of taking on the burden of making yeast rolls from scratch. Many cooks also like to cheat with pre-made pie dough. Go ahead and buy whatever you need to ease the stress. Your family won’t mind.
6. Survey your kitchenware
Survey your pots and pans now to ensure you have everything you need to make each dish. Make sure the roasting pan is large enough to cook your turkey or ham. Inventory your utensils and tableware to ensure you have enough.
7. Choose the right holiday decor
Holiday decor sets the whole Thanksgiving vibe. But setting the table for dinner doesn’t have to break the budget. Place indoor potted plants around your home to give each room a refreshing fall look. Add fall colors to your Thanksgiving tablescape. How about some battery-operated candles, and lights for ambiance?
Of course, there will be a stack of dishes and dirty pots once Thanksgiving dinner is over. But don’t worry about that. Put your feet up and relax. As everyone enjoys a second slice of pie, look around the table and pat yourself on the back. You did it! Cheers to another year of great memories spent with those you love.