Keys to a successful Thanksgiving

Hectic. That is the best way to describe the time since I returned from DC. I am not sure how, but Thanksgiving snuck up on me, And now I am caught in a whirlwind of cleaning, planning, shopping. So many blogs are sources for recipes, how-tos, and tips to help you prepare for the biggest food day in the US, and I had great intentions there too,but alas, even my best advice and recipes are more than likely too late if, like me, you have already planned and shopped for the meal, so I am providing a link to my Thanksgiving post from last year, and taking a different route for this post.

First, here are my tips for a successful Thanksgiving:

1) Plan- it is the one way to make sure that you don't have to run out on Thanksgiving day to find cream or butter or canned pumpkin at the corner 7-11. And don't just do this in your head- write it down!

2)Prep- This is something that professional chefs do all the time and can really be a big help when preparing a big meal. I always chop my onions and celery for the stuffing a day or two ahead, bag in a ziploc and put in the freezer so I am not chopping at 7 AM. Make your fresh cranberry sauce, and your pies the day ahead. Another important thing to me is to clean out my fridges and freezer so that ingredients are easy to find and so there is room for the mountains of leftovers.

3) Don't stress- There is so much pressure around Thanksgiving, sometimes because of the expectations of others, but most often because of the pressure we put on ourselves. Don't try to make a whole Cordon Bleu meal when you have in-laws and cousins coming. Incorporate family favorites and pick one or two new dishes to stretch your culinary muscles (for me this year it is angel biscuits, a ginger-pumpkin cheesecake, and fresh brussels sprouts with chestnuts) Remember that tradition is very important at Thanksgiving, and people gravitate toward the foods that they remember from their childhood, so make those dishes prominent in your menu.

4) Enjoy- Thanksgiving is about family and friends first, and then food. Let people help by bringing sides or desserts or wine. If you have a huge crowd, get really nice seasonal paper plates so you are not spending hours on cleanup after the meal. Play games like Spoons or Apples to Apples while the turkey roasts to raise the hilarity factor. Pull a simple craft from the internet to keep children busy or set up holiday movies or video games in a room away from the adults so they don't get bored.

I hope to post at least once more before Thanksgiving, but I will be following my own advice and realizing that I can't do everything, so in case I don't get back to you before Thursday, my Thanksgiving wish for all of you is a day full of great food, and the people you love to enjoy it with!


katiez said…
And why do we always clean like crazy only to have to do it again the day after?
I guess 'cause that's who we are ;-)
Relax, and enjoy a great Thanksgiving!
Deborah Dowd said…
Katiez- We have to remember to take a break and just enjoy... have a wonderful holiday!
I don't know, Deborah -- I kind of cherish those quiet moments chopping onions for the stuffing at 7:00 a.m. before the house is really awake. But you are right about prepping -- it makes a huge difference!
OhioMom said…
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, it is all about family and friends and quiet moments in the kitchen :)
shauna said…
That's such a helpful post. The one I like best? Don't stress!

I hope you had a wonderful day, my dear.
Deborah Dowd said…
Christine- I agree it can be relaxing to have those quiet moments doing something simple to start the day.

Ohiomom-You are so right!

Shauna- That is my favorite too, though easier said than done. And yes , it was a wonderful day with all my children but one around the table. We're hoping for a full house at Christmas!
Linda said…
My biggest mistake this year was not making the pies the day before. My secret to a small amount of stuffing-sanity was frozen, pre-chopped onions :)