But.... getting organized for the event is sometimes a little nerve-wracking. To ease my mind and give me focus, I make lists to help me keep things under control. If I just jump into the work without thinking things through, I'll spin my wheels and not accomplish as much. A list keeps me on-task and doing the most productive work that I can.
Saturday before Thanksgiving: By this time, I have my turkey in the freezer and my pantry stocked with all the staples that I need. I will have some other shopping to do, but it should be minimal. Today I need to do these things:
- Clean out the frig to make room for all the goodies to come!
- Make a shopping list for the last minute items and do the shopping.
- Fresh cranberries
- Orange juice (Orange Cranberry Sauce -- yum!)
- Sweet potatoes
- Russet potatoes
- Green beans
- (Double-check ingredients for pumpkin pie -- Done!)
- Celery and parsley for the stuffing
- Wondra flour for the gravy (check!)
- Coffee for adults; milk for the children.
- Put things away on the main floor -- this is a general "declutter" activity. As you probably imagine, we fight the clutter ALL the time. It will take about 20 minutes (just a guess) to pick things up and put them away.
- Dust and vacuum.
- Clean the kitty box.
- Plan out the serving dishes for the big day. Write the food item that goes in each piece on a post-it or 3x5 card and place it in the dish. Stack the bowls in a corner of the china cabinet or inside a kitchen cabinet so they are all in one place. Then, when all your helpful guests come, they will know exactly what food goes in which bowl.
- Finalize the guest list. Plan seating. One year I made little seating cards to go on each plate. It was easier for everyone when it was time to come to the table. If I feel especially energetic, I might put "conversation starters" on the backs of the name cards. I did that one year, and it was so much fun! I heard some wonderful family stories I'd never heard. Conversation Starters
- Set the table. This can be done several days ahead unless you need your table for regular meals, of course. Set the table and then cover it with another tablecloth or sheet to keep the dust off of your table setting.
- Thaw the turkey! There are two methods for thawing the turkey -- the refrigerator method and the cold bath method. I usually use the cold bath method because it takes less time and it doesn't tie up the refrigerator for several days. Check the label on your turkey or read on the internet on how to thaw a turkey. Be careful! The time it takes depends on the size of your turkey. Here's a website to tell you how long: Tips for thawing and roasting
- Bake the pies.
- Bake the banana bread (see Favorite Family Recipes). I keep frozen bananas in the freezer, so I always have some on hand to make banana bread. My kids are crazy for it!
- Chop up all the vegetables for stuffing, side dishes, etc. Put in ziplock baggies or small plastic containers and refrigerate. (This way, the only vegetable prep that needs to be done on Thursday is the potatoes.)
- Plan what time the turkey needs to go into the oven. I have a 21-pound turkey and we plan to eat at 1:30. The turkey will need to come out of the oven around 12:30 (because it needs to rest for an hour before serving). My turkey will need to roast for about 4 hours, so I need to put it in at 8:30 a.m.. It takes longer if you stuff the turkey, but I usually just fill the cavity with a quartered onion, a quartered apple, a carrot cut in half and a stalk of celery cut in half. I also add some thyme and sage for flavor.
- Just before bed, clean the kitty box again.
- Don't stay up late on Wednesday. It is more fun to have Thanksgiving when well rested!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!