Seven simple tips for planning the perfect stress-free Thanksgiving
Hosting thanksgiving dinner always feels like an intimidating task, even for the most experienced of cooks. With the turkey to cook, sides to make, vegetables to prepare, and desserts to bake, simply planning ahead can save you a lot of stress on the day. We’ve put together some simple tips to help you get Holiday ready so you can make the most of the time with your loved ones.
Create a Menu
Whether you’re having a quiet one with your partner or hosting a huge soiree, planning your menu in advance is crucial! Don’t feel like you must be daring when it comes to your courses, there’s nothing better than the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Whilst writing the menu, determine which dishes can be pre-prepared to save you time on the big day. Print or write out your recipes and pop them on the countertop so you have them to refer back to.
Once you’ve brainstormed your menu, you can start creating a grocery list. Try to organize your list into meats, canned goods, baking, dairy, drinks, and snacks to make it easier when it comes to going to the store.
Clean out your refrigerator
Throw any leftovers into the trash to make more room. Airflow is super important in fridges so you want to have as much space as possible to ensure your food is kept cool. Freezers can be packed a little tighter as keeping items close together keeps them colder, but you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of room in there should you want to pre-cook any of your thanksgiving dinner! Going through what you already have in your refrigerator will also help when it comes to ticking items off your grocery list.
Once you’ve cleared it out it’s important to give it a thorough clean. Wipe away spills with an anti-bacterial spray to avoid mold and odor.
Check your cookware and utensils
Thanksgiving is a whole day filled with eating, drinking, and celebrating. To eliminate any stress on the day, check your utensil and cookware inventory beforehand. You’ll want to make sure you have enough:
- Mixing Bowls
- Roasting Tins
- Pie Tins
- Cutting boards
- Measuring Cups
- Oven Gloves
- Whisks/Mixing utensils
- Serving dishes
You can even plan for leftovers by getting your Tupperware ready! Decide what you’d like to do with any leftover turkey in advance so you can have the correct dishes/utensils available.
Schedule your prep work
Plan when you’re going to start your prep work. The number one tip for a stress-free Thanksgiving is to get as much as possible done before the big day!
Certain can be made ahead of time and frozen. Some can go directly from the freezer to the oven, so you don’t even need to block out time for defrosting.
If the pie contains filling like egg, don’t freeze it before baking. Uncooked egg can curdle when thawed and nobody wants that for their show stopping pie. Instead, bake and cool the pie, then tightly wrap and freeze before defrosting in the refrigerator the night before serving.
Fruit pies are better frozen unbaked. Assemble your pie, wrap it up tightly and then pop it in the freezer. When it comes to baking, let your pie thaw on the countertop for about an hour before baking at the temperature stated in the recipe.
Alternatively, you can opt for baking a fresh pie but save yourself some time by pre-making the dough into a disk shape, tightly wrapping it and storing it in the freezer.
Cranberry sauce is a thanksgiving staple which can be made way ahead of time. Due to its high percentage of sugar, it’s basically like a jam! Once you’ve made a batch keep it jarred and store it in the fridge or freezer.
Casseroles reheat well and often taste all the better for being made ahead of time. You can make a classic green bean casserole a day or two before and leave it in the refrigerator. This gives the dish chance to marinate, and the green beans will become even more flavourful. All you’ll need to do on the day is top the casserole with any fried onion or extras just before it goes into the oven.
Aim to prep and cut all vegetables ahead of time. Get your veggies ready for boiling or roasting so they don’t take up too much time on the day. You can chop veg for salads and sides two days before Thanksgiving. The day before, peel and cover your potatoes in cold water then refrigerate ready for boiling and mashing on the day.
Get your main ready
Whether you’re roasting a turkey or treating your guests to a Vegetarian alternative like a nut roast, plan how you’re going to cook your mains. Work out your timings in advance so that everything can be served at the same time, and don’t forget to include cooking times for the things you’ve pre-prepared.
Though most choose to use a roasting pan for turkeys, there are other ways to cook your bird. Cast iron skillets, stainless steel skillets or a large casserole dish are great alternatives if you’re planning on roasting a smaller turkey. Broiler pans are best if you’re opting for a heavier bird!
If you’ve not got enough space in your oven, use warming drawers to keep your sides warm ahead of serving time.
Create your tablescape
Nobody wants to be rushing around setting the table on Turkey Day. Plan out your tablescape days (or even weeks) in advance so you have ample time to purchase all the necessary décor and wow your guests with a stunning display!
Choose a theme to make picking your décor easier. There are tonnes of ways to style your table, from pared down minimalist displays to traditional colorful centrepieces filled with natural foliage. Have a think about how you’d like to present your Thanksgiving table.
Once you’ve chosen a theme you can go ahead and select your china, glassware, cutlery, and table linen. Source any other decor like candles and vases to dress up your table, but leave fresh elements such as flowers, gourds, and plants until a day or two before to keep them fresh.
Set up a dedicated drinks area for your guests to help themselves whilst you’re busy cooking.
Put bottles and cans into an ice bucket and set out glasses and pitchers to avoid guests asking where they’re located whilst you’re in chef mode. If you have the time, you could choose some Thanksgiving drinks like Apple Cider and pre-fill pitchers for your guests can have one on arrival. This is when having an appliance like a beverage centre really pays off as bottles and cans can be neatly stored out the way whilst being kept cool.
The most important part of the holidays is to have fun and enjoy yourself with family and loved ones, so don’t worry if something goes awry. Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks and being around those that you love, and following these simple tips will give you more time to make precious memories together.
If you’re dreaming of a fully-equipped kitchen to spend time in this Holiday season, request a brochure or book a showroom appointment. For kitchen inspiration and tips on ways to get the most out of your Wren kitchen, head to our blog.