Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sundays With Santa's Little Helpers: Week 1 Thanksgiving Prep

In our house, that means a few things. In addition to attending two Thanksgiving dinners, we host a Mock Thanksgiving with a handful of our friends, because, honestly, who doesn’t love a good turkey dinner? We provide the turkey as well as some other essentials and invite our friends to bring their favorite dish to share. It’s a semi-formal dinner, but it requires much more than semi-planning. So join me as I walk you through planning a Mock Thanksgiving, which could essentially also be a standard Thanksgiving as well.

The Timeline

2.5-3 Weeks Prior
Send out invitations- I usually use Evite. My friends are all email hounds, and why not save the paper when you can? Not to mention it’s FREE! Plus, it is especially helpful when others are bringing a dish. Evite allows people to respond with a message that everyone on the invitation can see. In this case, I asked guests to tell us what side dish they would be bringing. Now, depending on your guest list, you may need to give more advance notice, just be aware of your particular situation.

Write out the menu- since some dishes are being brought by the guests, I only write out the dishes I will be making. However, if you are going to create a menu to set on the table, be sure to verify what each guest is bringing.

2 Weeks Prior
Do a mock up of your table setting- Do you have enough table settings and serving dishes? What about linens? How are you going to set everything up? Are you going to use place cards and assign seating? It is best to answer these questions now in the event you need to purchase anything. Is your dinner going to be served family style, buffet or plated? I find family style to be the most efficient with this type of meal. There is something to be said about passing the plates around the table, it brings a sense of togetherness! If your table has the room to allow it, I suggest it. Otherwise, buffet would work nicely too.

Write out a grocery list
- Working off your menu and including any miscellaneous items you might need as mentioned above.

1 Week Prior
Write out a timeline- I prefer to begin with the event start time and work backwards. Be sure to keep cooking time and temperatures in mind. You won't be able to cook anything else in the oven while the turkey is monopolizing it, nor can you cook something at 300 and 400 degrees at the same time in one oven.

Deep Clean your house- Give your house a good deep clean before things get too crazy. Then, throughout the week, you can just touch things up as you go. Be sure to take care of your guest accommodations if you are going to have overnight visitors!

3-4 Days Prior
Thaw your turkey- If you purchased a frozen turkey; place it in the fridge 3-4 days before your dinner. That will give it enough time to thaw safely.

2-3 Days Prior
Go grocery shopping (again, unless you are getting a frozen turkey- then you should buy it at LEAST 3 days in advance to allow it to thaw)- you already have your list, so you won't forget anything. This part should be a piece of cake!

1 Day Prior
Start prepping, cooking & baking- Go ahead and make any food items that are not required to be made the day of the party. Things this could easily include: cranberry sauce, pies, and even mashed potatoes can be made in advance. Prep anything else that can't be made.

Set up the table- This should again be simple, because you did a mock up awhile back. It's just a matter of putting it all back out. I'll have everything ready for the next day other than the place settings so they don't get dusty or dirty. Those are set out the day of before guests arrive.

Follow Your Timeline- For me, a general party day goes something like this. Get food going, start setting things up that couldn't be set up before- drink station, table settings, etc., tidy up any messes and spot check the house to make sure it's clean, get myself ready, finish up last food tasks and light candles just before guests arrive.

So, you've got a nicely, detailed timeline, but you might be asking yourself- what is the challenge?? Well, regardless of what kind of Thanksgiving you are having, this is one for everyone. Whether you are the host or gracious guest, you are bound to be cooking or baking SOMETHING, right? So this week, get your Thanksgiving menu and grocery list ready. Once you have that, not only will you be prepared, but you'll be ready to scour sales and coupons and get the best deals possible! We are hosting our Mock Thanksgiving this Saturday, so stay tuned for the rest of this week as I'll be going even further into detail about the event! I'll be posting table setting ideas, my menu, grocery list template, day of timeline, decor and more!

Be sure to check out Working Woman's Guide to Domestic Success & A Life In Progress for more ideas!

1 comment:

  1. I have to work on Thanksgiving (stupd hotel) so I won't be able to participate on this one.


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