We are only two weeks away from my favorite holiday of the year -Thanksgiving! Not only is it the official start to the holiday season, but it is a day that allows us give thanks, celebrate with great food and spend time with our loved ones. Whether you are a seasoned host or a first-time hostess, there is no reason for the day to be stressful. Here are a few of my essential tips that you can do right now to help make your Thanksgiving day a little bit easier (and don’t forget to check back Sunday for more helpful tips!)
Time has a funny way of getting away from you during the holiday season. A little planning and thoughtful preparation can go a long way.
- Don’t Wing It: Make a menu and stick with it. If you have spent months scouring Pinterest and FoodGawker for the latest and greatest recipes, do a test run. Experimenting with new recipes is fun, but sometimes things just don’t go as planned. You want to make sure that there are no surprises when you sit down to eat.
- Allergy Alerts: Find out if any of your guests have allergies or dietary restrictions. This doesn’t mean you have to change your whole menu so they can eat every dish, but being mindful of your guests needs and having a few options available will leave a lasting impression.
- Create a Budget: When planning a large meal, things have a tendency to add up pretty quickly. With Christmas right around the corner, you do not want to break the bank before the Black Friday sales have even started. Breakdown what you plan to spend on food, drinks, supplies and decorations and make adjustments accordingly. Also, make sure to earmark a little bit extra for last minute surprises (trust me, they is always something!
No one really likes to clean but it has to be done (sigh). Ideally, you want to have your house ready to go so that all you need to do is a quick vacuum and dust the morning that your guests arrive.
- Start with the Refrigerator: The refrigerator is the backbone of any kitchen and deserves a little extra TLC this holiday season. Begin by throwing away any old or expired food and make a note of any essentials that need to be replaced. Wipe down the shelves, drawers and doors with a mild detergent and add a fresh box of baking soda to help absorb any odors.
- Tackle the Small Stuff: Pay attention to the details in your home that are not part of your normal cleaning routine. Dust corners for cobwebs, wipe down base boards, shake out rugs and don’t forget to clean the oven. To make these tasks seem less daunting, picking one room a day and give it a thorough cleaning.
- Wash Up: If you have guests staying over, make sure that all your towels and sheets are washed and ready to go. Any table linens should also be washed and pressed before setting the table.
Once you have your menu in place, it is time to start shopping. Even “perishable” items, such as potatoes, onions, cranberries, squash and apples can be bought up to 2 weeks in advance if stored correctly.
- Gobble, Gobble: Never buy your turkey the day before Thanksgiving! Supermarkets are great at offering deals for early-bird shoppers. For example, our local supermarket offered a deep discount per pound for turkeys if we spent a certain amount on groceries. Thanks to their special we ended up saving $14! Keep your turkey in the freezer until you are ready to thaw.
- Party Essentials: If you are planning to serve any sort of afternoon snack or h’orderves, save the fancy dishes for dinner and pick up some cute paper plates, plastic utensils and paper napkins. This will help keep your dishwasher free for the main event. It is also the perfect time to stock up on chips, dips, or any frozen h’orderves that are on sale now to save you from having to worry about them at the last minute.
- Clean-Up Crew: A big dinner + plus extra people in your home = a big mess. Stay ahead of the game by making sure you are fully stocked with essentials like extra trash bags, paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, and soap. Extra aluminum foil and cling wrap are also great to have on hand (especially for making little care packages with leftovers).
What sorts of things do you do to help get ready for a big dinner? Comment below and let me know.
For additional steps, check out Part Two and Part Three of our Countdown to Thanksgiving Series.