While I am 100% confident there will be some phrases you shouldn't say in front of Grandma muttered, or possibly even yelled the day before and the day of, I've adopted this very weird sense of just going with the flow of things. This is so unlike my list-making detail oriented self that I feel as though I should be concerned.
In case you missed the other times I've given you the menu and prep plans, I figured I'd share this one with you as well.
- Gather all of the recipes you think you'd like to have at your Thanksgiving feast and organize by appetizers, side dishes, main dish, desserts and drinks.
- Take a realistic look at your menu. Can you really make 3 different types of stuffing and 5 pies? Will your vegan uncle have something to eat? Is your menu balanced?
- Weed out unnecessary items and condense the menu.
- Fill in items your friends/family have volunteered to make. Review to ensure its balanced again.
- Go through each recipe and write down ALL of the ingredients it calls for, even if you already have them in your pantry/fridge/freezer/spice cabinet, with measurements. Ex. ½ stick of butter, 2 cups of milk.
- Translate your ingredient amounts into actual quantities you can buy in the store. Ex. You have 6 recipes all calling for ½ stick of butter. That's three full sticks you'll need.
- Expect to need double the following ingredients (recipe dependent, but relatively basic): butter, ice, stock or broth, milk, celery, onions, sweet potatoes, mini marshmallows, pie crust, cheese, bread.
- Write out your complete grocery list. *Organizing by type (produce, canned goods, meats, dairy) is a lifesaver during hectic store shopping hours. This is also the time to clip coupons, search for the best deals and map out your grocery store game plan.
- Print another copy of all the recipes you're making (or bookmark them if you're using a laptop, tablet, phone, etc.) for easier use the day of. Keep in a safe place.
- You'll want to prep everything you can in advance. No one wants to wake up at 3 am and cook straight on through until noon when your guests arrive.
- Things you can make in advance:
- Cranberry sauce can be made and frozen for 1+ weeks.
- Dough for rolls can be frozen after the first rise and last 1+ weeks in the freezer.
- Potatoes can be peeled and covered completely with water for up to 24 hours without browning. Mashing them can be done a day in advance. Put in a crock pot to keep them warm and add extra butter so they don't dry out.
- Pies can be made 1-2 days in advance.
- Vegetables can be chopped 1-2 days in advance.
- Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before attempting to cook him.
- If using fresh bread to make stuffing, allow it to sit in the open air at least overnight.
- READ YOUR RECIPES ALL THE WAY THROUGH. You need to make sure you have softened butter, cream cheese, eggs, etc.
- If you're a compulsive list maker as well, make a general time line of when you need to make something, when it needs to go into the oven, at what temperature, how long it needs to cook, etc.
- Put out all of the serving dishes you're going to use. Sitting the printed copy of the recipe in them really helps to keep things straight in those last final crazy hours, plus allows others to jump in and help you without you needing to stop and explain.
- Setting the table can be oddly therapeutic after a day of cooking.
- Follow your time line.
- Make sure to clean up as you go. This includes UNLOADING the dishwasher.
- Take deep breaths.
- Remember that you are most likely the only person who will know if something goes wrong.
- Never, unable any circumstances, refuse help. If aunt Sally wants to carve the turkey, hand her a knife and get out of the way.
If you'd feel more comfortable reading a post of someone who has pulled this off already, with a realistic commentary on the hourly details, you should totally go read my friend Steph's post at her blog, Life According to Steph.