Serving Thanksgiving Like a Pro…For the Not So Pros…

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Its that time of year again! And NOW is the time to make sure you have your turkeys defrosting, pumpkin pie baking, and Grandma’s recipes out and ready to be cooked! When it comes to the conquest of cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I would easily classify myself as a “not-so-pro.” I can cook of course, but Thanksgiving dinner can be quite daunting. In the past, when we were living in Virginia away from family, I dabbled in making a smaller version of the meal for me and my boys. This year, we are having great friends spend the holiday with us and I am cooking the full blown, traditional Thanksgiving dinner from scratch…no store bought, pre-made anything allowed!

In my quest to make this meal a success, I have been planning, shopping, listing, and post-it filling for weeks, making sure that I get everything just right! My goal is to make sure that our dinner looks mostly like the one pictured above and to not have any accidents happen that lead us to a scramble for the Chinese take-out  menu at the last minute.

So for today’s post, I thought that I would compile a list of some helpful hints that I have come across for preparing this meal. Lucky for you all, my editor falls in the “Thanksgiving Pro” category, so she added things that she has learned over the years to the list as well, I’ll let you all guess which ones!

  • Defrost the turkey a day or two in advance instead of leaving it for the morning of.
  • Set a schedule for exactly when you want to be sitting down for dinner, and time everything around that.
  • Make sure you take note of any guests or family members that have food allergies or diet preferences and take them into consideration when planning the menu.
  • Plan your menu a couple of weeks in advance and stick to it!
  • Don’t hesitate to ask people for help or to bring a dish, bottle of wine, or appetizer! If someone offers, say yes!
  • Make your pies and baked goods in advance and freeze them. (Don’t forget to defrost these, too!)
  • Make things like mashed potatoes in the morning, and keep them warm in the crock pot.
  • Plan on making three times as much gravy as you think you’ll need!
  • Type out a list of your menu, and check each dish off as it is prepared.
  • Get out serving dishes, platters, and serving utensils in advance, for everything on your list. Then place a post-it note on each, so your helpers know what food item goes where!
  • Set your table the day before, using all your finest. Also have cups, saucers, forks, and plates for dessert set out and ready for the switchover, along with your party size coffee pot.
  • Find some great music to cook to and dance around the kitchen to burn calories before indulging in the meal. A happy hostess makes for a great party!
  • If a dish does not turn out exactly as you planned, never apologize since no one knows it but you! If it is simply bad, then don’t serve it and focus on all the great food you DO have!
  • Don’t forget there are turkey hotlines available if you have a mishap.  They are experts at making it work, so don’t panic!  Check this one out, for example: http://www.butterball.com/tips-how-tos/turkey-experts/overview
  • Don’t rely on the turkey popper thingy!  Having a good meat and poultry thermometer is much more accurate.  Leave time for your turkey to sit out of the oven before carving.
  • Keep a smile on your face and attend to your guests!  You’ll have plenty of time to eat more turkey in the days ahead!

Happy Thanksgiving, Mamas!

Fashionably Yours,

Allison

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