It was the best Thanksgiving meal I've ever had. Since then I've been hooked. Thanksgiving is my holiday. I can't imagine NOT cooking the big meal and you know what- I love every minute of it. Sure, I get a little crazy at the end, barking out orders, running around the kitchen making sure everything makes it to the table piping HOT, shoving everyone out of my way. It's chaotic and crazy- but only at the end, I promise. Then I sit down, relax, and enjoy the meal.
After hosting for the past four years, I realized I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve. So, if you're hosting this year, I hope this helps!
1. Set the Table
This is a quick and easy tip. If you have a dining room that you don't use on a daily basis, set the table! You could set the table a week before if you like (which would mean tomorrow), giving you one less thing to worry about. Keep it simple; no one wants to crane their neck around a large flower arrangement or fear knocking over tall candles to grab more gravy. Scatter a few miniature pumpkins here and there, some pinecones, and small votives to set the scene.
2. Chicken Stock is Your Best Friend
Seriously, it is. I love watching Rachael Ray's talk show because she offers SO many tips throughout the whole month of November in preparation of Thanksgiving. Stock up on chicken stock! After you carve the turkey, taste a piece. Is it dry (I hope not!)? If it is, heat up some chicken stock in a small saucepan and pour it over the carved turkey slices. No one will know the difference, and your turkey will be moist and flavorful!
3. Get Help
From the store, from your husband, from whoever you're inviting over. Hosting Thanksgiving doesn't mean you have to do everything. Buy a gravy packet from the store. Order a pie from a bakery. And this is a tip within a tip- start early, like days before early! There are plenty of side dishes that can be made days in advance. After your Thanksgiving grocery haul, ask your husband to chop the onions, celery, apples, and carrots. All your veggies will be ready to go and they can hang out in the fridge for days. And, by all means, if your guests offer to bring something, say YES!
Thanksgiving 2012- our friends were in charge of the veggie side dishes
4. Clean Your Oven
During my second year hosting Thanksgiving, my oven started to smoke right before the turkey was about to go in. Talk about embarrassing! Something had fallen down below the night before and I had no idea. So, clean your oven- this is also something you can do up to a week before. Also, on the day of, make sure to put any sort of casserole on a baking sheet before it goes into the oven. That way, if it bubbles over, you won't have to worry about cleaning the oven before the next dish can go in!
5. Stick With What You Know
A tired and true rule whenever company is coming over- don't try out a new recipe! Stick with what you know. If you don't know how to make stuffing from scratch, don't do it, OR, try it out weeks before. You might need to try a recipe several times before you get it right or to your liking. This goes for desserts as well. I was thinking about making these cranberry blondies for this Thanksgiving and I've never made before. I tried it out yesterday and low and behold- the bake time wasn't working for me. That would've stressed me out on the big day! I'm glad I know now to bake it an extra ten minutes longer.
Hope this helps!
What are some of your tips to a stress-free Thanksgiving? I'd love to hear them!