If you are hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this year, whether for a large crowd or just your immediate family, it is usually a grand affair, requiring many hours of preparation. In attempt to reduce the amount of stress in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day, I usually begin my preparations one week in advance.
Friday before Thanksgiving -
~If you aren't a regular baker, test your oven & make sure it is operating correctly
~Make Thanksgiving Day dinner menu & if you don't usually prepare a weekly meal plan, making one the week before the large gathering can be the difference between a smooth week and a week filled with chaos. Remember to keep your meals easy and small. You don't want a bunch of leftovers taking up valuable storage space in your refrigerator.
~Grocery shop for Thanksgiving dinner AND the rest of week
~Wash the "company" china & polish the silver. If yours sits in the china hutch for months at a time, like mine, it is probably a little dusty and should be washed before the big day.
Saturday before Thanksgiving -
~Tidy up the lawn
~Wash the windows (inside & out)
~Clean the window blinds
~Vacuum under the furniture and wipe down all the base boards (especially in the gathering areas such as living/family room and dining room).
Sunday before Thanksgiving -
Sunday is our Sabbath, so it's our day off
Monday before Thanksgiving -
~Bake and freeze pies, breads & rolls
~Place turkey in refrigerator to begin thawing process (if your turkey is large you may need to do this on Saturday or Sunday)
Tuesday before Thanksgiving -
~Pack and overnight mail frozen pumpkin pies to the children who live out of state & can't join us this season.
~Deep clean the bathroom(s) and kitchen
Wednesday before Thanksgiving -
~Place frozen pies in refrigerator to begin thawing process
~Prepare deviled eggs, refrigerate
~Prepare twice baked sweet potatoes, refrigerate (do not bake 2nd time - this is to be done Thanksgiving day)
~Prepare cold vegetable, fruit, snack, appetizer tray(s), refrigerate
~Prepare salad (do not add sliced tomatoes until just before serving), refrigerate
~If you will be serving dinner in a formal dining room that your family doesn't have to use for breakfast Thanksgiving morning, set the table
~Give the kitchen a good "wipe down" before bed
~The size of your turkey and the time you'd like to serve dinner will determine how early your day will begin. I suggest you figure in a 1 1/2 hour "crisis" time cushion. (if you plan to eat at 2pm a 12 lb. unstuffed turkey will take about 5 hours to bake @ 325 degrees - this means you should have your turkey in the oven no later than 7:30 am, don't skimp on the time cushion)
~If you couldn't set the dining table the night before, set it as soon as breakfast is finished.
~After breakfast remove bread & rolls from freezer, to begin thawing
~Set desserts out on dessert table/buffet; set cold appetizers & salads out on buffet table; cover with a clean sheet or table cloth.
~Begin preparing hot side dishes such as, vegetables, dressing, gravy, etc.
~Approximately 1 hour before dinner is to be served, your turkey should be finished. Check internal temperature with meat thermometer (185 degrees).
~ Place roasted turkey in a warm draft free place, covered with foil to "rest" before serving and slicing.
Remember even if we have yet to attain all our dreams and goals, if we live in the United States of America we are indeed abundantly blessed. My great grandfather immigrated to the United States from Ireland during the great potato famine. When he arrived he had no money, no friends and no family. However, because America is synonymous with the words "choice" and "hope", my great grandfather's hard work and a successful life in America has left our family with a strong legacy of choosing hope, not despair, for a better tomorrow. I pray you and yours have a most blessed Thanksgiving.