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Are you hosting the family Thanksgiving dinner this year?
The following tips will help you get through the day and still give you plenty of time to entertain and enoy your guests’ company.
The trick is to plan early and do things in stages… As soon as Halloween is over, you should start thinking about your Thanksgiving dinner plans.
- Send out Thanksgiving dinner invitations. Include your phone number and ask guests to respond by a specific date. This way you’ll know how many guests you will be serving and you can begin to plan your Thanksgiving budget.
- When your guests respond to your invitation, check with them to find out if they have any food allergies or special dietary needs. Some of your guests may be vegetarian and you will certainly want to accommodate them.
- Talk to family and friends to see if you can borrow tables and chairs, if necessary.
- Create a Thanksgiving menu.
- Check to see if you have all the Thanksgiving spices and staples on hand that you will need for the big day. If not, stock the spice rack and load up on flour, salt, sugar and all other staple items.
- If you will be entertaining a large number of Thanksgiving dinner guests, ask each guest to bring a side dish.
- If you are preparing all of the food yourself, be certain to choose some dishes that can be frozen. This will eliminate having to cook all the food on Thanksgiving Day.
- Purchase a frozen turkey and store it in the freezer. If you prefer fresh turkey, order it now.
- Determine the size of turkey you will need. If you want turkey leftovers, use the ration of one pound for each child attending and 1-1/2 pounds for each adult. There are dozens of ways to cook turkey leftovers for you and your family to enjoy in the days following Thanksgiving.
- Check outdoor equipment if you are planning to make barbecue turkey or smoked turkey.
- Clean your refrigerator from top to bottom before going to the grocery store. This will ensure that you have enough room for your Thanksgiving foods.
- If food utensils and your turkey platter have been packed away, clean them thoroughly. Determine which pots and pans you will use to cook specific foods.
- Clean the house thoroughly and don’t forget to include floors and windows. You want your house sparkling when your guests arrive. If a deep-cleaning is in order, you’ll want to do a couple weeks in advance of the big day, so you’re not rushing.
Two Days Prior to Thanksgiving
- Make desserts, breads and rolls. These can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator.
- Make pies. Pumpkin pie should always be stored in a cool place.
- Cook yams, cranberry sauce and soups. Cool and store in refrigerator.
- Cube bread for stuffing and allow to dry. Do not make stuffing in advance.
- If using a frozen turkey, it must be thawed properly.
Day Before Thanksgiving
- Place a boot tray and portable coat rack near the door for the convenience of your guests.
- Purchase fresh vegetables and salad greens. Wash, trim, place between sheets of paper towel, slide into a zip-lock bag and place in the refrigerator. This keeps the greens fresh.
- If you are planning on having a bar, this is the time to stock it. Also buy juices, soda, tea, coffee and any other drinks you plan on serving.
- Finish your baking.
- Calculate your turkey cooking time ahead of time, as you don’t want to keep your guests waiting because your turkey isn’t cooked.
- Be certain your turkey is fully thawed and ready to be put into the oven the next morning.
- Prepare the stuffing for your turkey.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Assemble fresh fruit for a centerpiece, if desired.
- Wash, peel and chop fresh vegetables for cooking. Cover with water and place in the refrigerator.
- Cook potatoes and mash them. Keep them warm in a crockpot set on low.
- When the turkey is almost done, remove vegetables from the refrigerator and cook.
- Create a relish tray.
- Check the internal temperature of the turkey at the thigh with a food thermometer. It should be 170 degrees. The stuffing should be 175 degrees. Anything below these temperatur
es can cause botulism.
- If done, remove your Thanksgiving turkey from the oven and allow it to cool for approximately 30 minutes.
- While the turkey is cooling in its own juices, remove foods from refrigerator for warming.
- Cook frozen vegetables, if desired.
- Take desserts out of the refrigerator.
- Ask older children to fill water glasses.
- Make the gravy.
- Take up food and place it on the table or buffet. This is a good time to ask for a volunteer or two.
- Have each guest take turns stating what they are thankful for.
- Enjoy your delicious Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family.
By following the tips outlined here, you will be the most organized Thanksgiving dinner host, and you will have much more time to enjoy your guests’ company when they arrive at your home.
You may also want to ask a couple of your closest family members or friends to come a little early to lend a helping hand. They’ll be glad to do it, and there’s always fun to be had in the kitchen at Thanksgiving!
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