Hosting a big Thanksgiving meal can be daunting! But there is so much party planning and preparation that can be done in advance to make Thanksgiving meal easier and enjoyable for the host.
- Find out how many guests to expect for your Thanksgiving meal.
- Write a list of the side dishes, appetizers, desserts and drinks that you would like to serve.
- Decide with your guests who will be bringing side dishes, pies, etc, and assign them their items.
- Determine the size of turkey you will need to feed the crowd and provide leftovers on Butterball’s website.
- Write your grocery shopping list.
- Write a list of what tasks need to be done before Thanksgiving and when you will do them. Include items such as special cleaning or organizing projects or preparing the table with extra leaves.
- Determine which dishes can be prepared in advance or partially in advance and schedule a time to make them. I make my pie crust a week or two ahead, wrap it in wax paper and store it in the freezer until the day before Thanksgiving. I’ve also made gravy roux, prepared casseroles, baked sweet potatoes, chopped veggies and partially baked bread ahead of time. Real Simple has ready-made Thanksgiving task lists you can use!
- Purchase your turkey several days before Thanksgiving so you have plenty of time to defrost it. If you’re buying fresh, you have more time, unless you’re going to brine your turkey.
- Decide if you will serve food buffet style or on the table. Buffet seems to work best if you’re serving more than about 8 people.
- Get out your serving bowls, platters and silverware and decide which dish will go in each. Place a sticky note on each so you know what goes where. If you’re serving a buffet, set them on the buffet table in order to make sure they will all fit. I love using crockpots to hold side dishes and gravy because they won’t get cold!
- Put dinner plates at the beginning of the buffet and set silverware, napkins and glassware on the tables.
- Set the table and the bar the night before.
- Work backward from mealtime to determine what time you need to put the turkey in the oven and when you will bake side dishes. Make a note of key times. Check Butterball’s site above for roasting times.
- Even if your timing doesn’t work out perfectly, you can have warm turkey if you pour hot broth on the sliced turkey right before serving.
You can start on items #1-7 anytime! Items #8-9 a several days before Thanksgiving. Do #10-13 a day or two before the big day.
What do you prepare in advance for your meal? Share your secrets with the group!
Ready to prepare for Christmas? Check out this Christmas tips post!
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