Last Minute Thanksgiving Tips

Normally, we spend Thanksgiving at my in-laws home and I always take gluten free side dishes and desserts for everyone to enjoy. Now that the kids are older, they usually end up splitting their time between homes, so we don’t always have everyone together every Thanksgiving.

Last week, we were talking about Thanksgiving. Our son mentioned that it would be nice if we could celebrate another day so everyone could be there. My husband and I looked at each other and a plan was born.

Within two days, we had a list of 28 confirmed guests. Yes, 28. I had 3 days to plan, shop, prep and execute Thanksgiving dinner for all those people.

Are you laughing yet?

After a moment of panic, I got to work.

Our dinner was wonderful. The laughter was loud, the food and wine plentiful, and everyone officially met my daughter’s very brave boyfriend. It was a very good day and I believe a new tradition has been born.

It surprised me how much I learned from our dinner party. I hope some of these tips will help you.

Create a menu and timeline, then stick to them.
Thanksgiving is not the time to experiment, especially if you are in a time crunch. Write them down and try not to deviate from it. Stick your timeline up in your kitchen where you can see it. While creating your menu and timeline, keep in mind the next tip:

Keep it simple.
Stick to what you are familiar with. Create the meal that says Thanksgiving to you and yours. Simple food made deliciously will always beat out complicated recipes that do not turn out. Make what you can in advance, to save on time and clean up.

Make a very specific, detailed shopping list.
I am not a list person and I like wing it at the grocery store. This time, I wrote a list that included the quantities needed for each item. It saved me an extraordinary amount of time. Please remember that not everything needs to be homemade. Make what you can, buy the rest.

Ask for help.
Once we decided to have this dinner, my husband picked up the turkeys, one of roasting, one for smoking, and rented tables and chairs so our guests had somewhere to sit. Our guests brought chips and dip, antipasto, veggie trays, wine and ice cream. Our daughters also bake gluten free, so they made cupcakes and cookies. When people ask if they can help, let them. Everyone can wash dishes, make drinks and clean the table.

Count your silverware and dishes.
Sounds silly, right? If you are having 4 people, you probably don’t have to worry. I knew I had enough plates, but forgot about bowls and silverware. So, 2 hours before dinner was served, I had to call Jessica and ask her to bring her silverware. Thank goodness for friends. My original plan was to serve butternut squash soup to everyone, but since I only had 16 bowls that wasn’t going to happen. I made a general announcement and only served those who really wanted soup. Ugh.

Get yourself ready first.
This was the first holiday that I woke up, put my turkey in and then got myself ready. Normally I am so stressed out rushing to get cleaned up before our guests show up. It was nice to look presentable before people were ringing the doorbell. Just remember to wear an apron.

Stay out of your head and enjoy your company.
Don’t be so crazed about getting your food on the table that you miss out on all the conversations and fun. Make your timeline work for your and enjoy your company.

Have a very happy and delicious Thanksgiving!

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