Sunday, November 22, 2009

Plan Thanksgiving Dinner - A Step By Step Guide

By Angela Tyler

Planning Thanksgiving dinner and preparing it can be very stressful, especially if you have a large family or are expecting a number of guests. In order to make Thanksgiving more enjoyable for yourself as well as your guests, some advance planning and preparation will work wonders. Use these tips to make your holiday a stress-free, memorable occasion:

10 Days Prior To Thanksgiving:

About 10 days prior to Thanksgiving, or at least one week, get your list together of folks who are invited and contact anyone you haven't spoken to as yet. This will give you plenty of time to prepare for the amount of food and seating. Be sure to jot down next to your guest list names any special food needs or dishes that anyone is bringing to the meal.

Now that you have your guest list you can figure out the size of the turkey. You'll want about one to one and a half pounds of turkey for each person; more if you want leftover turkey. You may want to buy a fresh turkey, so check with your market now for availability. Or, you may want a frozen turkey, a smoked turkey, or even a deep fried turkey. Now is the time to make that decision.

A final menu should be ready at least a week before Thanksgiving. Look at your guest list and adjust your menu to take into consideration the younger children, big eaters, or anyone with a special dietary need. Offering the children onion-less stuffing in a separate casserole might make their meal a bit more special.

Thanksgiving Week:

The week of Thanksgiving is the time to stock up on necessary items from the grocery store. You can make certain items in advance such as bread or rolls, and freeze them until Thanksgiving morning. Also make sure you have supplies such a napkins, cups, etc.

The Days Leading Up To Thanksgiving:

A couple of days prior to Thanksgiving you can prepare a few items in advance to save time on the big day.

Things like cranberry sauce or relish can be stored in your refrigerator for a few days. You may want to cut up onions, celery, and any like items and store them in plastic ware to save time on Thanksgiving morning. You may want to prepare some side dishes the night before Thanksgiving; items like Green Bean Casserole store just fine overnight. Prepare your pies and cakes now, as well. If you have items in the freezer, they should come out now and go in the refrigerator.

Double check your Thanksgiving menu shopping list and make sure everything on it is ready and waiting in your kitchen during these last two or three days before Thanksgiving.

Get out your games, decorations, and special serving pieces for Thanksgiving. If you have kids, be sure to involve them in the game planning at the very least. If they are old enough, be sure they are included in decorating the house and table. Now is the time to get out your special table linens and wash and iron them if necessary.

If you have purchased a frozen turkey, take it out of the freezer and place it in the refrigerator 3 days prior to cooking to give it plenty of time to thaw. Following the thawing instructions on the turkey to the letter.

Thanksgiving Morning Is Here:

It's Thanksgiving morning and you are all set! Your turkey is thawed and ready to stuff. Figure out the timing to roast your turkey using the time table on the packaging. Prepare your bird, stuff it, and get it ready for the oven in your roasting pan. Plan your side dish cooking schedule. Prepare any side dishes and desserts that you were unable to prepare overnight; peeling potatoes, etc. Wash dishes as you go to prevent a pile up during dinner.

Now it's time to set the table, and take a break! Enjoy the aromas already wafting through your house... that is the smell of a wonderfully planned and prepared Thanksgiving dinner. Good for you! You have successfully created a memorable Thanksgiving without all the stress. Go light the candles and relax with your guests!

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