Planning a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Do you have the pleasure of hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Are you feeling a little bit intimidated? Well, don’t be! With a little bit of planning and prep, you can put on a stress-free Thanksgiving dinner your family and friends will never forget.

Plan Ahead

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, now is the time to start planning. If you wait too long, you’re asking for some stress to creep in. Instead, start making some lists right away. Here are some things to consider:

  • What will you be serving and what ingredients do you need? Think through hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, side dishes, and desserts. What ingredients do you already have in your kitchen?
  • What serving items will you need? Do you have enough place settings for everyone? Do you own a gravy boat?
  • How do you want to decorate and what will you need to buy in terms of a centerpiece, candles, tablecloth, etc.?

Once you have some shopping lists made up, you can slowly start buying things instead of getting it all at the last minute. Take advantage of the internet as the ultimate time saver! Order things online to save yourself in drive time and facing the crowds. Also, consider cleaning out your cupboards and fridge in advance so that you have plenty of room for all that you need to store before the big day.

Follow our planning checklist to get a jump-start on prepping for the ultimate stress-free Thanksgiving…

Stress-Free Thanksgiving Checklist

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving…

  • Decide on your menu. Think through hors d’oeuvres, drinks, side dishes, and desserts.
  • Order your turkey if you’ve decided to get a specialty bird.
  • Compile three master shopping lists:
    1. All necessary food items/ingredients that you will need and don’t already have in stock.
    2. Any serving items you don’t have (extra place settings, a gravy boat, etc.).
    3. Any décor items you want (centerpiece, candles, tablecloth, etc.).
  • Shop online for items to save you time and money.
  • Buy all non-perishable food items well in advance to avoid the crowds and chaos in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

The week before Thanksgiving…

  • Clean out your fridge to make as much room as possible for the turkey and side dish ingredients.
  • Shop for all perishable food items on your list.
  • If you bought a frozen turkey, put it in the fridge to slowly thaw a few days in advance (5 hours/pound to thaw).
  • Prepare any decorations, press table linens, find serving platters, etc.

The day before Thanksgiving…

  • Do as much cooking and prep-work as you can today.
  • Bake pies and prepare side dishes that can easily be reheated.
  • Wash and chop any vegetables you will need for salad, stuffing, or other dishes.
  • Set the table the night before. One less thing you need to worry about the day of!

Get Others Involved

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, consider asking friends or relatives who will be attending your dinner to bring a side dish or dessert. Or, give them tasks to do in the kitchen the day of. Many time guests can feel the most welcome in your home when they are given a job to do (if they offer to help, or course). Besides, some of the best Thanksgiving memories can be made in the kitchen in the hours leading up to the actual dinner.

Have Fun!

Remember that you have just as much right as everyone else to enjoy Thanksgiving day. If you feel the stress coming on – maybe you burned the sweet potatoes or the turkey isn’t done in time – shrug it off! Remember, Thanksgiving is about family and friends and spending time with those you love more than it is about the food. Besides, even if one thing goes wrong, chances are there will be a lot more things that go right. Enjoy the holiday!

Check out our Festive Fall Drinks for some great beverage ideas to serve along with your fabulous Thanksgiving dinner.

Photo Credit: Dreams To Do

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Ariel

Ariel is a recently turned stay-at-home momma of three little ones to her high school sweetheart. When she isn’t busy playing with her young kiddos (or running around frantically), you can find her writing on her personal blog, Dreams To Do. Ariel is a lover of inspirational words, photography, coffee, reality TV, and of course, her family. You can connect with Ariel on Twitter and Facebook.

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