Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Prep - Do it now!

We're having some dear friends over for Thanksgiving, but we started preparing today. By preparing, I mean my husband washed the china and glassware we'll be using. Tomorrow he'll do the silverware. Why don't I do it, you ask? Well, he actually likes to do it. So I graciously give him the joy of doing it for me.

Besides giving your tableware a quick cleaning, here are some more tips to save yourself some effort and headache on the big day.

1. Thaw the turkey. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many cooks forget until the day before. And if you have a large turkey, that's not going to be long enough. Allow one day for each 5 lbs of bird. Since I'm brining ours, I'll start thawing it now, then place it in the brine Tuesday night. Should be perfect. (If you've never brined a turkey, I cannot urge you strongly enough to try it! It makes such a huge difference in the moistness of the meat. The salt solution actually helps seal in the juices.)

2. Bake your pies ahead of time. This is such a huge time saver when it comes time to get the meal ready. Stick them in the freezer until Wednesday night. Place them in the fridge and they'll be wonderfully thawed by morning. If you like your pies warm, just pop them into the oven at 350 degrees until warmed through.

3. Write down each dish and the ingredients that go into each one. Check to make sure you have all the ingredients you need. Again, sounds like a no-brainer. But I know from experience that if I don't glance over the recipes and take note of the ingredients, inevitably on Thanksgiving Day, I'm going to realize I don't have the sage or cranberries or something that I need. Check off each ingredient as you verify its presence on your cupboard or purchase it from the store.

4. Make your place cards. If you're having guests, place cards add such a special touch to the table. I mean, how often do you use place cards when you sit down to dinner? Your family knows where to sit, right? But when you have guests, it's nice to have a place already in mind for them.

We're going to use the Martha Stewart printable ones here.

Here is some more inspiration from TipJunkie.

And if you want your kids to get involved, you'll find some fingerprint turkeys here and here.

5. Determine if you can prepare any dishes in advance. Cranberry sauce can be made a day or two ahead. Casseroles can be put together the night before then baked when needed on Thanksgiving Day. Even dinner rolls can be prepared early and reheated in the oven prior to serving. Look at your menu to see if there are any shortcuts that can be done before Thanksgiving.

What about you? Do you have any tips to share that make your Thanksgiving prep easier?

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