When it comes to hosting a holiday feast, have you ever looked down at a pile of kitchen mess with crazy hair and sweat pants, feeling stressed out because your guests are about to arrive? Yup — me too!
Hosting is hard work. Trust me — I host Shabbat dinner every Friday night and it’s pretty much a mini-Thanksgiving every week. But, after years of hosting, I’ve learned a thing or two to make the process easier. By planning ahead and preparing some things in advance, it’s possible to pull off a successful and stress-free Thanksgiving meal and enjoy the process!
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, follow this to-do checklist:
3 Weeks Out:
- I always find it stressful when I have a full house and haven’t thought about where everyone is going to sit – it can sometimes get awkward. Taking the time to think about where each person will sit and creating personalized name cards will make guests feel welcome and at ease. So, a few weeks before the big holiday, plan your seating chart and create personalized name cards.
- Make your playlist. Think about the mood you want to set and fill a playlist with fun tunes.
- Buy any napkins, tablecloths, centerpieces, or fun decorations now. You’ll be happy you crossed this off your list early!
2 Weeks Out:
- Plan your menu. Along with planning for the traditional foods, make sure to think of everyone’s special dietary needs.
- Make a grocery list
- Buy the wine
- Order your turkey or any meat if it’s coming frozen
- Bake and freeze some desserts, cookies or squares
- Make and freeze chicken stock or sauces
- Go food shopping (you may have to go twice and buy fresh greens or perishables a few days before)
- Homemade salad dressings stay good in the fridge for about 4 days, so make your dressings a few days ahead of time
- Make your perishable desserts and store them in the refrigerator. Think: cheesecakes, pies, crumbles, or anything that wasn’t freezable.
- Set your dining room table and layout serve-ware for each dish. If you’re planning a big feast, label each bowl with post-its, reminding you what should go inside (in case you’re like me and you forget things)! Have two eating areas in your home? Then do this a few days before Thanksgiving. If you only have one table, though, do it the night before!
- Pre-wash and pre-chop your vegetables. This is a huge time-saver when it comes time to cook everything!
- Depending on the ingredients you plan to use, assemble your garden salad the day before — just don’t dress until the day of to avoid wilted greens
- Assemble your casserole (but cook the day of for freshness)
- Begin defrosting your frozen goods
- You can store peeled potatoes in water in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. So, if you’re planning to make mashed potatoes, pre-peel your potatoes the day before! (Tip: Make sure to cover your bowl with foil or plastic wrap)
- Make your stuffing (traditional stuffing lasts 3-4 days in the fridge)
- Squeeze in a workout or brisk walk in the morning! This will help set the mood for the rest of your day.
- Make the turkey. It may be a time-consuming dish, but it’s best if you make this the day of.
- If you’re roasting vegetables, they always taste better freshly roasted
- Bust out the pre-peeled potatoes to boil and whip up mashed potatoes
- Arrive at the table stress-free!