Okay, so you've got 20 people headed to your home for Thanksgiving and the panic has set in. Take a deep breath and relax. Get a pen and paper and make the following lists:
Grocery shopping list
Housewares list - bigger coffee pot, extra linens etc
Timeline - list all the dishes and how long they take to prep and cook, note recipes that can be made ahead of time.
Decide what to delegate. Yes, delegate you don't have to do it all to be a good host. Thanksgiving is about enjoying family and you can't enjoy them if you are running around town for 3 days before Thanksgiving and then cooking all day on Thanksgiving. So delegate! It makes others feel more a part of the day.
Get out your serving pieces and label them with sticky notes so that anyone can fill them on Thanksgiving. You can't imagine how much time you can spend just putting food on platters. Decide who in your family is great at making things look pretty. Have a few washed garnishing items like kale and red leaf lettuce. I always wish Dianne, assistant at Williams Sonoma, or Allyson & Alicia from the farm were around to help me plate. They do a lovely job and they have more patience than I do! Really you don't have to do everything yourself. It is more fun if you get others involved.
When planning your menu have items that can be made ahead of time, items that can be purchased and 1 or 2 highlighted dishes. Not everything has to be a star. Great purchased items include; cheese, a lovely cheese board can get you compliments for years and is little work, olives, nuts, cured meats like proscuitto, quick breads and crackers.
Prepping vegetables ahead of time can be a real time saver. I wash and trim my green beans and blanch them in boiling water for about 4 minutes and then shock them in ice water. I drain them and put them in a baggie in the fridge. I saute them with butter and almonds right before serving. I wash and peel sweet potatoes and squash and store in the fridge. I love to roast a bunch of root vegetables in the morning and then just reheat before serving. Roasted vegetables are easy and please lots of picky eaters. Mashing potatoes stay hot for multiple hours in a crock pot!!! See past post on the perfect mashed potatoes.
Don't forget to let your turkey rest. If it weighs in at 18 or more lbs. it should rest for 45 minutes covered in foil. While it rests make the gravy and fill the serving platters with food and put them on the table.
Have a great day. Don't forget to enjoy yourself, and if you cooked, someone else should clean up! Gobble gobble.
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