Thanksgiving is many things to many different people. In America it is a day we set aside to give thanks for all the things that are important to us and pay homage to an excellent dinner with an afternoon of football watching and yelling at the television screen (at least that is what you do if you live in Detroit). In other areas of the nation people actually do things together such as playing board games, touch football, or any number of other games that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Other traditions are to gather the ladies together to plan the shopping strategy for the next day’s shopping. A worthy cause if ever there was one to be sure.
But, the traditions that go along with Thanksgiving and giving thanks do not solve the dilemma that many face each and every time Thanksgiving is celebrated in their homes faces. That dilemma would be what to prepare for the big meal. There are plenty of options and as hostess and chef extraordinaire it is entirely up to you what the menu will be. The best piece of advice that can be given however, is the less food left to prepare on Thanksgiving day is the less food that has the opportunity for something to go wrong in the preparation process.
Here are a few great menu ideas, tips, and tricks that should help make your Thanksgiving Dinner preparations go a little more smoothly.
First of all, plan ahead and make sure you have all the ingredients you need and any special menu items that may be required well ahead of time but in a manner that allows for maximum freshness. If you must wait until the day before to get some of your shopping done, then do so as early in the day as possible. Otherwise make a point of getting all the non-perishable ingredients that are necessary a week or so ahead of time. Also if you are going to order a smoked turkey or something along those lines do so far enough in advance that you have no doubt at all that your order will be filled on time.
Second, if you can afford to have something ordered and prepared offsite and it doesn’t hurt your sense of pride do so. You do not have to have everything catered but having a few items catered will leave your day much less stressed making the risk of something going wrong a little lower than if you were cramming everything into one morning and doing it all yourself. Bread from the bakery, smoked ham or turkey, and certain favorite side dishes that are complicated and time consuming as well as some pies are a great buy and save a lot of time that would be better spent enjoying the day.
Third, recruit help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with grabbing a passing child or adult and asking for a little help with the chopping, washing, or mixing that must take place in order for the dinner to go off without a hitch. The thing is that while people often don’t mind helping they are afraid to offer for fear of seeming to imply that you aren’t doing well enough on your own. For this reason there is no harm in recruiting help especially among friends and family.
Finally, keep the animals outside or locked away from the festivities and, more importantly, the food. Animals are great friends to have but most of your guests do not appreciate them in the kitchen or at the table. You do not want Fluffy or Fido to run off the food you’ve worked hard to prepare (or purchase whichever the case may be) so remove them from a situation that it might prove tempting.
The most important thing about your Thanksgiving dinner is that you are not so stressed from the preparation that you do not have the time or peace of mind to enjoy it. The advice above should help with that.