How to Have a Foolproof Thanksgiving Dinner Party (11.19.15)

Thanksgiving Dinner

(Back by popular demand)

It’s easy! Really. Thanksgiving is one week from today. There is enough time to get everything done. How? By using some simple organizing skills like planning and making lists, you’ll know what needs to be done and when. A lot of the work can be done in advance.

Thanksgiving is a traditional holiday. Even though that makes menu planning pretty easy, there’s still a lot to do. Here are some tips.

What do you want to serve for dinner? Make a list. What do you need to buy? Make a list. What needs to be done before guests arrive? You guessed it. Don’t try to remember everything or wait until the last minute. That doesn’t work. Be realistic about how much time you really have and plan accordingly.

Here is a sample timeline and checklist. Adjust as necessary.

Cleaning (4-6 days ahead)

  • Declutter (at least the rooms your guests will see) and maintain it
  • Wipe surfaces–Swiffer dusters make it super quick
  • Vacuum public rooms
  • Thoroughly clean the kitchen and bathrooms (with quick wipes the day before)
  • Laundry including table linens and guest sheets and towels

Menu and Miscellaneous (3-6 days ahead)

  • Select recipes
  • Check ingredients against what you have
  • Check serving pieces, dinnerware, glassware, flatware and cookware
  • Check decorations
  • Check beverages
  • Add items to buy to your list
  • Buy non-perishable items (5-6 days or more ahead)
  • Thaw turkey if frozen (3-4 days ahead)
  • Buy perishable items (2-3 days ahead; tip: fresh turkeys may be limited this year)
  • Make or buy ice (2-3 days ahead)

Food Preparation (1-6 days ahead)

  • Make dishes that can be frozen (3-6 days or more ahead)
  • Prepare everything else that is not last-minute (1-2 days ahead)

Thanksgiving Eve

  • Do as much as possible in advance to limit preparations while guests are there.
  • Create a timetable by working backward from the time you’ll serve dinner. The following example is based on a 16-pound, unstuffed turkey.

(5-1/4 hours before serving) light the oven
(5 hours before serving) put turkey in the oven
(4-3/4 hours before serving) prepare non-last-minute dishes and get coffee pot ready
(1/2 hour to 1 hour before serving) bake/cook side dishes
(1/2 hour before serving) Remove turkey from the oven, let it rest, carve

  • Set the table
  • Lay out all serving pieces
  • Decide what to wear
  • Tidy up bathrooms and guest areas

Thanksgiving Day

Relax. You’ve already done most of the work! Follow your lists and you’ll have an organized, drama-free Thanksgiving (personal issues aside!).

Product of the Month

Rubbermaid Easy FInd Lids Set

Rubbermaid Easy Find Lids Set

These containers are mostly what I use for food storage. Lids snap together and to the bottom of the containers they fit. The containers nest so they occupy less cabinet space. I like that you can see what’s in them. These containers come in different size sets. Use them to store your Thanksgiving leftovers! This 34-piece set is available at Target for $19.99. For more information or to order, click here.

 

Notable Quote

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.  ~Henry David Thoreau