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Tips for a Stress Free Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is arguably the most underrated holiday of the year. Tables filled with delicious turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, and pies entice families all over the country to gather together to eat, laugh, and share memories. It’s practically a get out of jail free card for noshing on all the yummy food you can eat!
If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, the holiday may be losing a bit of its shimmer as you contemplate the gazillion things you have to get done before turkey day finally arrives. In order to save you and your family from a possible meltdown, burnt turkey, and another crazy family story to tell at family reunions for years to come, take a little time to prepare in advance. A few minutes of early prep will make your day a little less crazy and a lot more enjoyable.
Do not wait until the day before Thanksgiving to hit the stores for food. Not only will you be joining a throng of cranky procrastinators, you’ll be adding unneeded extra stress. Purchase your food as far in advance as possible; you may even already have some non-perishables lying around the house, as these can remain fresh for months at a time. You can even purchase your turkey in advance. If you do happen to forget an item, you’ll only have to run to the store to grab one or two things instead of a cart full.
Prepare Your Kitchen:
A week or so before the big day, take an inventory of your kitchen. Review the recipes you plan to use (and pull them out so you can access them when you need them) to make sure you have everything you need, either in your kitchen or on your shopping list. Make sure to calibrate meat thermometers, clean out the fridge, free up Tupperware dishes and dust off holiday décor.
Use Paper Plates:
I know this may sound terribly untraditional and unholy for some families, but if the idea of tackling a million dishes and pans is enough to make you swoon, consider opting for paper plates instead. You’ll save time on cleanup, which means you get to spend more time playing games and talking with your family.
If you are hosting a big party, it’s likely you have a lot of cooking to do. It can be overwhelming and your kitchen may not be suited for cooking 15 different food items at once. Bake everything you can in advance. Pies, cakes, and other desserts can easily be made and stored at least 24 hours in advance (you can even freeze pies to store them longer), casseroles can be prepared in advance, and drinks and juices can be prepared. Get as much of the food that will hold over well cooked the day before and simply reheat when dinner rolls around. Your turkey, stuffing, rolls, and gravy should not be among those prepped early.
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Sort the Plates:
If you spend most of Thanksgiving morning cooking and plating entrees and sides, you don’t want to waste time digging through the cupboard looking for your favorite dish or the right sized platter for your veggie tray. Pull out the serving dishes the night before and label each dish with a sticky note telling you what dish will be used for which food item. While you are preparing food the next day, you can just grab and go!
Ask for Help:
The best way to reduce stress, save time, and bring the family closer together is to ask everyone to bring a salad, desert or other side dish. You can cook the turkey and another dish or two, but ask that your family members bring over other side dishes so you can spread the workload around.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for families to get together and talk over a comfortable meal. Preparing for the big day should be fun and as easy as possible. Keep yourself in the holiday spirit by taking a little extra time before Thanksgiving morning to prepare.
Author Bio: Preston Davis is a first time dad, blogger and DIY extraordinaire. Master of the grill and all things culinary, he currently lives in Southern California with his wife and their 2-year-old daughter. Follow him on Twitter to see what he’s up to: @withPreston.