Today is Halloween. Happy Halloween!! You know what that means though, Thanksgiving is coming! If you're already stressing out about the big meal, don't worry, I'm here to help.
When hosting Thanksgiving, last-minute tasks have a way of sneaking up on you and stealing your time. That's why it's so important to get as much as you can done in advance.
1. Check your cookware and kitchen tools.
On top of planning your menu, it's just as important to make sure you have all the cookware and kitchen tools you'll need to actually prepare the menu items you decided on. Do you need a roasting pan, more pie dishes, or a meat thermometer? Now's the time to take inventory and figure out what you still need. You don't want to wake up Thanksgiving morning and realize you have nothing to roast the turkey in!
2. Check your dishes, flatware, and glassware
If you're hosting the dinner, check your dishes and silverware. How many people are coming to dinner? Do you have enough? Don't forget about the dessert plates and utensils. Borrowing can be a good option. Ask a friend or family member to bring whatever you are lacking, and make sure they're returned washed and sparkling. Glasses are another item that is commonly overlooked. You need enough glasses for wine, water, as well as any other beverages you want to serve.
3. Make a plan for the tablescape/Decor
Are you going to decorate the table or will the food be the spotlight? What about the rest of the house? Decide on how you want to decorate the table, the mantle, the walls, and gather anything you need. Do you have candles to fit the candlesticks? A vase for the flowers you plan to buy? Will you use a tablecloth or a table runner? Find it now, and make sure it's clean. You don't want to be stuck looking for a clean tablecloth on Thanksgiving morning!
4. Clear out the fridge and freezer
This is something you might want to do little by little so you have plenty of room by Thanksgiving. You're going to have a lot of ingredients, and hopefully dishes you made ahead. Get your fridge and freezer into ship-shape. This is a good opportunity to eat up leftovers and clean out the freezer.
5. Rearrange oven racks
OK, so this one is more last-minute, but not so last minute that you already pre-heated the oven when you realize that the bird won't fit with the current rack arrangement. Most ovens need a little rearrangement to fit a big turkey. What's the best arrangement of oven racks? Can you maneuver to fit the turkey and a row or two of casserole dishes? Practice the night before; pretend you are paying game of Tetris. Move your oven racks and check as you go to make sure your pie and casserole dishes fit.
6. Foods you can make ahead of time
Make and freeze gravy. You can always add the turkey drippings at the last minute.
Make and freeze mashed potatoes. As long as your potatoes are coated with plenty of butter and cream, they're able to be frozen
Make and freeze or refrigerate cranberry sauce. It's essentially a jam.
Make and freeze dinner rolls.
Make the pie crust. If you're making a fruit filled pie, you can actually make the whole pie and freeze it. Then bake it right before Thanksgiving.
7. Defrost the turkey
If your turkey is frozen, it might take a lot longer than you think to defrost it. A completely frozen turkey needs a day to thaw for every four pounds in weight. So a 10 lb. turkey will take 2.5 days to thaw. Also, if you plan to brine your turkey, it needs to be defrosted one day sooner.
8. Make a schedule of events for Thanksgiving day.
You've made the menu, but whats the plan for the day? What's the order of putting things in the oven? When are people coming? Are you going to watch football or the parade? Are guests bringing dishes that will need heating up? It's definitely helpful to have a schedule of how the day will play out and what needs to happen when.
So that's a basic summary of what you want to try to do ahead of time. Do you prep for Thanksgiving in advance? Is there anything you would add to the list? Let me know in the comments.
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