Don’t be intimidated by hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Use these tips to prepare for the big day.
Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be a challenge. There are many things to think about beyond just fixing food.
My mom and I host Thanksgiving dinner each year and our biggest struggles are finding refrigerator/oven space for all of the food.
I start planning about a month or two in advance and make sure everything is planned, purchased, and scheduled prior to the big day.
Here are my 10 ways to best prepare for hosting a Thanksgiving feast.
1. Start thinking about what you want to make well in advance. I start pinning ideas on Pinterest about two months prior to Thanksgiving. These are just for ideas. I don’t end up making everything I pin. I always narrow it down a few weeks before the big day.
2. Write down what you want to make and each ingredient you will need to make it. This will also allow you to see how much you are going to be spending and budget accordingly.
3. Take inventory of what you currently have and check it against your list of what you need. You might not need to purchase items like butter, sugar, flour, eggs, etc.
4. Clean out your refrigerator/freezer. You’re going to need lots of room to store your turkey and all of the other items you purchase/prepare. Make sure you have allowed enough space for it all.
5. Know what you need and look for deals. I like to get items as I see them go on sale or just pick up things I know I’ll need here and there. Obviously, items like fruit, vegetables, etc. will go bad so they need to be purchased the week of. Things like sugar, spices, flour, or cream cheese have a long enough shelf life where you can buy it weeks before. I have stood at Kroger staring at an empty cream cheese shelf before Easter when I wanted to make a cheesecake. One year pumpkin was in short supply. Waiting until the last minute can mean you have to go to additional stores to find what you need or you have to alter your plans and make something else.
6. If you found a cool, new recipe that you want to try, give it a test run before the big day. I like to make things for my family a few weeks in advance to “try out” first. If you ask my family, we all remember the Thanksgiving my mom tried recipes on Pinterest for CrockPot turkey and CrockPot mashed potatoes. The turkey completely fell off the bones into shreds and the potatoes turned brown. Some things you just gotta make the day of.
7. Thaw your turkey and/or ham. It’s recommended to thaw one day in the fridge for every 4 to 5 pounds. So, for most people, you will want to start the de-thawing process the Sunday before.
8. Schedule your time, cookware, recipes. Plan ahead! Look for things that can be made ahead of time. Make sure you will have the space to store those items until Thanksgiving. Plan out your Thanksgiving morning. Remember to keep in mind oven space, timing, etc. Plan out the baking dishes, pots, pans, CrockPots, platters, and other serve ware you are going to use. Make sure you have enough and don’t double book an item.
9. Prep! I will make any cake or cupcakes up to a month in advance and freeze. I will finish those cakes, cupcakes, or other desserts a day or so ahead of time. The only thing I will prepare the day of is ham or turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, and casseroles.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Most people will ask if they can bring something. Let them! They can bring a side, appetizer, drinks, or dessert. Any little bit helps. If you need help cooking, ask a friend or family member to help out.
If you get through this list and think this is totally not for you, many restaurants and grocery stores now offer complete turkey dinners to go. You usually have to place orders for these meals in advance so make sure you get your order in on time. Then you just pick up and serve. They usually include the turkey, sides, and dessert for a certain amount of people.
Here are some of my favorites to serve on Thanksgiving… and yes, we have a ham and a turkey.