Thanksgiving is already upon us. The kids come home, bring their families. Friends come over. You have to cook a big dinner. How can you do it all and stay organized through the weekend?
Start with a game plan
Take a look around your home with an objective eye. Try to see what others see – cluttered countertops, tables and messy rooms. Tackle these clutter zones one at a time. Start now, before time becomes an issue. Avoid the temptation of tossing clutter into trash bags to deal with later.
Do you have enough table space for everyone? Chairs? Glasses and plates? If not, you will have to borrow or rent what you need. You don’t want grandma to have to balance her Thanksgiving dinner on her lap. That is a recipe for disaster, especially if there are small kids around.
Some people go all out with decorations for all holidays. Get out the cornucopia, gourds, brown candles or whatever says Thanksgiving around your home. Having decorations is not a requirement. If you are short on time, money or energy this is one part of the holiday that is unnecessary.
If you feel comfortable asking, let some of your guests make part of the dinner. Everyone knows how time-consuming Thanksgiving dinner is and no one will have a problem bringing something.
Do your own shopping before the stores get crowded. Use a list to make sure you don’t forget anything.
If you buy a frozen turkey, they take a long time to defrost. According to Butterball, if you defrost in the refrigerator you need to allow one day of thawing for every four pounds of turkey.
Anything you can make in advance will put you ahead of the game on Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, some food can’t be done ahead of time. Make things easy on yourself, keep it simple, especially if you have a large crowd for dinner.
Consider how much prep time you will need to make the dishes you will prepare. Count backwards from dinner to see when you need to start cooking. Be sure you have enough room in your oven for everything that needs to be in there at once.
If you are preparing for a large crowd and your food is buffet style, make little cards that identify what each dish is. It will save you the trouble of answering questions about the food.
Create a timeline
Set times for drinks, appetizers, dinner, dessert, football or anything else you plan to do. Your times do not have to be etched in stone, but it is nice to have an idea of what will happen and when.
There are always bumps in the road. Don’t let problems derail your day. Adjust your schedule and keep moving forward. No one will be the wiser.
Leftovers are a Thanksgiving favorite. If you send care packages with your guests, add Gladware, foil containers or whatever you prefer, to your shopping list so you will be well prepared. Save some grocery bags to make it easy for your guests to carry the leftovers.
Yes, having people over for any occasion can be stressful. If you forget to put out the pickles or the gravy burns, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just move on to the next thing. Remember to take some time to enjoy your company and savor the moments you are all together.
Have a great Thanksgiving!