Multicolored autumn season vegetables assortmentWe are just 10 days away from the biggest feast of the year-Thanksgiving!  By now you should have a menu in place, your budget squared away and your basic prepping and cleaning are under way.  In Part Two of our Countdown to Thanksgiving Series, we tackle three more tasks to help you prepare for the big day.

delegateWhen preparing a large meal, you have to be ready for anything.  Not only are you the host, but an entertainer, cook and sometime ring-master.  It can be a lot of work, so knowing when and where to ask for help is essential.

  • Speak Up: Does your Aunt Jo make amazing apple pies?  Does your Dad want to bring his world-famous mashed potatoes?  Check-in with your guests now and see if anyone wants to bring one of their specialty dishes to dinner.  Add this to your menu.
  • Keep in Mind Your Oven Schedule:  If a guest brings something, ask them to prepare it completely ahead of time.  Regardless of how big your kitchen is, you do not want to have to stop what you are doing so someone else can cook.   Crock-Pots are perfect for keeping dishes warm allowing you to keep your kitchen free for your own preparation.

Stock the bar 2

Alcohol is one area that can easily break the bank if you are not paying attention.   A general rule of thumb when buying for large party is to assume guests will drink 1-2 drinks in the first hour, then one drink for each additional hour.

  • Don’t Fear the Box:  Check out companies like Bandit and Black Box who are reinventing the wine market with their award-winning boxed wines. The eco-friendly packaging allows them to be sold at a significantly lower cost that their bottled counterparts and are great options to serve if entertaining a large group.
  • Create A Featured Drink: Serving a signature drink as guests arrive is an easy way to create a festive atmosphere.   Pinterest is the perfect place to go for recipes and serving ideas.  Use a Crock-Pot to prepare Mulled Wine (for adults) or a Spicy Apple Cider (for kids).
  • Mix It Up:  Take the stress out of last minute shopping by picking up club soda, tonic, sodas and Bloody Mary mix now.  Many liquor stores will also offer non-perishable items like gourmet salts (to ring glasses) and bottled items like cherries or olives.

decorate 2It’s still a bit early to set the table, but pull together your components now to ensure that you have all your bases covered.

  • Plate It Up: Count your place settings, wine glasses and silverware for the main event.  If necessary, make a list and pick up any missing or replacement pieces.  Also, don’t forget about dessert!  You should have enough plates and utensils to cover all your courses.
  • Ready to Serve:  Using your menu as a guide, pull out your serving dishes and match them with your recipes.  Double check that you have enough serving utensils as well.  If using a sideboard or table for serving, it is helpful to lay out the dishes and platters to make sure everything will fit during dinner.
  • Keep It Simple:  You are putting a lot of effort into preparing the perfect meal, so don’t overshadow the food with scented candles or too many distractions on the table.  Try to keep centerpieces small- you want your guests to feel connected and free to talk across the table.

Don’t forget to check out our latest post,  Countdown to Thanksgiving {The Final Week}, where we breakdown the final preparations for your big meal.

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