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Monday, November 13, 2006

Thanksgiving Countdown Preparation and Planning

Thanksgiving Countdown Preparation and Planning

Two Weeks Ahead

  • Make sure you have enough tables and chairs for your guests.
  • Check all serving dishes, flatware, and glassware.
  • Polish silver. Wrap in tarnish-resistant silvercloth and set aside.
  • Shop for any paper goods you need for the event.
  • Take an inventory of your tablecloths and napkins. If any of your items need to be cleaned, do it now.
  • Clean your refrigerator to make room for your Thanksgiving items.
  • Shop for nonperishable groceries on your shopping list.
  • Match up recipes with serving dishes and silverware.
  • Drop 3x5 cards into each bowl and platter indicating which dish goes in each. Plan and make decorations, place cards, and wreaths.

One Week Ahead

  • Plan seating arrangements.
  • Review your recipes and prepare a cooking schedule by day for the days ahead, and by the hour for Thanksgiving Day.
  • Check thawing time for frozen turkey.
  • Prepare guest room with fresh linens and other amenities.
  • Do any needed outdoor work like raking leaves or cleaning the glass on your front door.
  • Will you need a high chair, crib, or booster seat? Bring them out and clean, or arrange to borrow these items from a friend or the parent.
  • If children will be attending, get out games or movies for them. Or ask parents to bring things for the kids to do

Four Days Ahead

  • As appropriate, begin defrosting the frozen turkey in your refrigerator.
  • Save money on ice -- start making your own ice cubes now. When they're frozen, dump them in a freezer bag.
  • Do major housecleaning and organizing.
  • Put up wreaths and nonperishable decorations like candles.
  • Phone guests regarding menu plans and find out what oven space they may need. Also inquire if they are bringing serving pieces or if you should furnish these.
  • Plan ahead for leftovers. Organize containers, bags, and wraps so guests can take home the meal's bounty.

Two Days Ahead

  • Chill beverages.
  • Have centerpiece delivered or buy flowers for the table.
  • Shop for perishable items.
  • Clean vegetables and refrigerate.
  • Set out bread for homemade stuffing.
  • Make cranberry sauce.
  • Fill salt and pepper shakers and butter dishes.
  • Complete light housecleaning.
  • Lay a fire in the fireplace, ready to light later.
  • Put up decorations.


One Day Ahead

  • Peel potatoes, place in a pot of cold water. Keep in refrigerator.
  • Clean vegetables and refrigerate.
  • Make all dishes that can be prepared ahead. Don't forget the pies and any chopping, peeling, or toasting that can be done ahead.
  • Check your bathrooms. Be sure to have extra paper goods and hand towels available.
  • Prepare stuffing
  • Do spot cleaning of the rooms that will be used.
  • Let your family set the table in the evening.
  • Make the side dishes that can be baked ahead of time.
  • Make a staging area for coffee, desserts, and drinks. Stock with flatware, sugar and creamer, cups and saucers, etc. This could even be set up on a tray stashed in the pantry until needed.


Thanksgiving Day

  • Get out all serving pieces. Set out in order on a counter or buffet table.
  • Fill condiment dishes with your choice of pickles, olives, cranberry sauce, etc. Cover each dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Lay serving spoons on top.
  • Assign specific family members or relatives to be in charge of tending the fire, pouring drinks, answering the door, hanging up coats, and watching the children.
  • Remove turkey from the refrigerator for one to two hours. Add stuffing to the bird or place into casseroles to bake separately.
  • Preheat oven.
  • Put turkey in oven and baste every half hour or according to your recipe.
  • Prepare coffee and brew 20 minutes before serving.
  • Remove stuffing from turkey and let it rest, covered, for about 20 minutes before slicing.
  • Microwave food to quickly reheat if all the burners of the stove are occupied.
  • Make gravy and last-minute vegetables.
    Set out refrigerated dishes including condiments, cranberries, and salads.
  • Heat bread or rolls as needed.
  • Pour drinks.
  • Carve turkey.
  • Keep the oven on the lowest setting to keep foods warm until the meal is over.
  • Enjoy the dinner! Clear the table and serve dessert.

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