Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top Ten Tips For Turkey Day... Already

This is the last week in October, which means... the holidays are coming. First off is Thanksgiving! In honor of my favorite holiday, I thought I would post the top ten things you can do to get ready starting... now. It really does pay off to think ahead.

1. Start planning your menu. There are lots of cooking magazines out right now which feature enticing Thanksgiving spreads. Why not pick one up for some inspiration and maybe even some new recipes that will become family traditions? I keep a "holiday" section in my recipe notebook, so that's what I will be pulling out as I plan my menu. This is also the time to start working on your timing so that everything will be ready at the same time. Not as easy as it sounds! If you're not cooking, maybe think of one thing you could make to contribute to wherever you are going.

2. Start your shopping. Our Thanksgiving meal is $100 in groceries easy. Why not break that up into little bits here and there when you make grocery runs? Using your menu you are planning, jot down nonperishable things you can buy ahead of time. You might want to go ahead and get your bird and tuck him away in the freezer!

3. A 14 pound turkey will need approximately 3.5 days to thaw in the fridge so go ahead and circle on the calendar the day you need to move Mr. Turkey from the freezer to the fridge. The rule of thumb is 24 hours for every 4 pounds. You also might want to check out the turkey producers' websites for tips on cooking a turkey.

4. Start thinking about your table. How will you set it? Do you need a centerpiece? Extra utensils or plates? If you're using your fine china, is it clean/polished/accounted for? Is there anything fun you want to do like the five kernels of corn or candles in clips on the plates? (This is featured in my ebook A Recipe For Christmas Joy.) I have special candle holders that clip onto the plates. We go around and light the candles and say what we're thankful for. Everyone groans but I think they secretly like it.

5. You can even go ahead and set your table, laying the glasses down. Then gently cover the table with a bedsheet (clean) to protect everything.

6. Think of what you can make before and freeze-- breads, some desserts, side dishes, etc. Saves time later!

7. Do you need a turkey roaster? A turkey baster? A meat thermometer? Extra serving pieces or storage containers for all those leftovers? Now's the time to think through that and go ahead and purchase those things so you won't be panicking and dashing around on the big day. (Though try as I may, there always seems to be something I send Curt out for that morning. I am always thankful to the grocery store for being open on Thanksgiving morning!!)

8. If you have guests coming, assign them what they need to bring enough in advance that they too can be purchasing and preparing ahead of time. Also think of anything fun you might want to do the day of. (I mean, other than watching the parades and football and perusing the sale ads...) Is there a parade in your area? Do you want to organize a football game in your neighborhood? Dads vs kids? Moms vs dads? We host a dessert open house on Thanksgiving night every year and invite friends to drop in. It's way fun and has turned into a tradition we all enjoy.

9. Start looking through your recipes so you will know what to do with all those leftovers! Turkey burritos? Turkey soup? Turkey Tetrazzini?

10. With all of that done, you have more time to devote in November to being truly thankful. Maybe this week you will want to come up with a focused, intentional way to remember to be thankful all month long as you prepare your heart for Thanksgiving. One year we made a tree trunk from a paper grocery bag and I used a stencil to cut out different colored leaves. I told the children that all month long we were going to take a leaf and write what we were thankful for and put it on the tree. I called it our Tree of Thankfulness. That was a fun little activity and a great visual for the kids. Of course now they are teens and would scoff at such a display-- but even just a pretty fall colored bowl with slips of paper that you add to all month, then read on Thanksgiving, is a good idea.

For the month of November, I am going to devote all my "In A Food Mood" posts to my favorite Thanksgiving recipes and tips. Y'all come back now, ya hear?
Pin It!


Allison Morrison said...

Thanks for the ideas. The key to a unhurried holiday is being prepared!! Also, if you're a day after Thanksgiving shopper it's never too early to make your gameplan either :-)

Shelly said...

Here lately, I am drawn more and more to preparing ahead of time (little bits at a time): So, your post comes just in the nick of time!

Thanks for giving such wonderful ideas to prepare for the potentially stressful season ahead. I always find sound, practical advice when I visit your site, and I'm so glad I stopped by today!

Zibilee said...

These are great ideas! I have not made many Thanksgiving meals myself at home because we usually travel out and see my dad, but I really want to do one this year, and seeing your list has inspired me. I will have to let you know how it goes! Also, I love the tip about picking up leftover containers early, that is one that I can really use!

Kimberly said...

Thanks Mary Beth for the great reminder to plan ahead. We go to my in-laws for Thanksgiving, but Christmas is at my house. These reminders will surly help to relieve the stress that can build up around December.