The holidays can be stressful especially if you are hosting, but they don't have to be! Planning ahead and taking a few steps in advance can make all the difference in staying cool and calm before your guests arrive! For years I have been implementing these practical plan ahead tips when hosting a holiday meal; And this year I thought I would my tips with all of you!
1. Get a Headcount. The first thing you need to do is get a headcount. Knowing about how many adults and children you will have as guests will help you determine how many place settings you will need, how many sides and desserts you will need, and how big of a turkey you will need (it is generally about 1lb per person, but if you want leftovers plan for about 1.5-2 lbs per person).
2. Plan Your Menu & Delegate. As you determine what appetizers, sides, desserts, and drinks you and your guests will enjoy, start to plan the dishes you plan to make, and leave what is left on the list for the guests to bring. I often put out a list of dishes that are up for grabs (ie: 2 desserts, one sweet potato dish, one stuffing dish, etc). and allow people to choose what they want to bring. Another way that is often easier is to simply delegate who will bring each dish!
Write Out Your Schedule and Grocery List. You can start planning up to a week in advance for the big feast, but I suggest giving yourself at least 5 days of planning ahead to be sure you can access all the ingredients for your recipes (grocery stores have been known to run out days before), as well as ordering your turkey and planning for time to properly thaw it. I like to shop for my non-perishable items about one week before Thanksgiving day, which will ensure that I am not fighting my way through long lines, busy crowds, and prevent me from driving all over town looking for cranberries! That only leaves a few perishable items that need to be purchased a few days before.
Planning That Can Be Done Up to One Week Before Thanksgiving:
- 1 Week Before: Do steps 1-3 if you haven't already done so, clean out pantry and fridge. Order turkey if you haven't already done so, and plan when it needs to start to be safely thawed according to the weight.
- 4-6 Days Before: Grocery shop for non-perishables.
- 3-4 Days Before: Clean house, set table, wash, dry, and chop vegetables.
- 2-3 Days Before: Buy perishables. Begin to cook and prepare appetizers, desserts, and side dishes.
- Thanksgiving Day: Plan out when you need to start cooking your turkey, and decided when you will start to cook sides, and how you are going to keep things warm, (the crockpot on warm setting is always a great way to save oven space!)