Thanksgiving Preparations: Finding the Calm Before the Storm

 

Turkey day is in three days.  Are you panicked? Or are you a pro in the kitchen drinking your glass of cab with a a checklist done two weeks ago (if so, share your stuff)?  Most times, I feel like these three days leading up Thanksgiving feel like call-in days.  There are things that can only get done the day of or night before.  It's like the calm before the storm.  I wanted to give you some helpful tips on executing Thanksgiving with a light spirit.

1. No Use in Crying over Burnt Turkey

Here's the thing.  Some people either love to cook all day long or don't.  There are people like me who thrive in being able to create the day of pulling out a bag of tricks.  And then there is the rest of the populace.  What I've realized is that even if the turkey is dry, the mashed potatoes are lukewarm, & the crust got burnt, when you're celebrating a day of thankfulness with people you love (and hopefully love you), it's not the end product of dinner that qualifies for a successful day.  

2. Don't Try New Things

Thanksgiving is NOT the time to pull out a new recipe that you saw premiered on the cover of Food & Wine, or some food blog.  It's a time to cooking well based on your expertise.  If you've never deep-fried a turkey & decide you must on Wednesday--probably not a good idea.  Be comfortable in your cooking skin & even ask those more seasoned for help.  

3. How to Prepare

For the novice cooks, today (Monday) is a good day to finalize your menu.  Figure out how much thawing time you need for your turkey (weight).  What sides require oven time & stove time? It's good write out each side you will be serving & when it needs to begin prepping, to when you begin cooking, in order to have it hot for eating time.  You can always prepare mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes in advance (a day) & pull them out to warm by adding some liquid over the stove to heat them up.  Another tip is avoid putting the stuffing directly into the turkey, because it tends to require more cooking time for your turkey (evidently leading to one dry bird).  Appetizers are good to keep it simple & have done a day in advance.  

On Wednesday, have a time schedule of what cooking day looks like.  Do this by working backwards from the time you intend to eat.  If dinner begins at 3:00, you need to evaluate what food stuff needs to start when & setting your table needs to start when.

4. Enlist the Forces

Always delegate.  It's no time to be Type A or pull out your OCD card.  Remember how ultimately it doesn't matter if the food is perfect?  Well, if our attitudes stink because we have steam rolled our spouses, children, relatives or friends, in order to achieve the "perfect meal," we have failed.  

Ask others to contribute their favorite side to mix it up.  Ask others to bring a specific side dish, in order to ensure variety.  If your friend loves making desserts, delegate it.  Enlist your children, spouse or others to set the table.  Let go of your vision & invite them to share their vision.  

5. Ease up on Yourself

In these next couple days you might be feeling overwhelmed with all that needs to get done.  I know I am, but, I have to remind myself that I'm only given 24 hours in a day & I'm still required to be present in the here & now.  Sure, I can prepare & plan for Thursday; but, I don't want to ignore the present opportunities to play puzzles with my daughter, go on a date with Ben for his birthday.  

If you know you will be a basket case on Thursday, because you didn't plan--then begin that today.  If you know you might be a little nutty, but doable with a more fly off the seams of your pants, then don't.  Ask yourself this, "When I don't plan ahead, do I make it unbearable for myself & those around me when kickoff begins?"  

 

What tips do you have for preparing for Thanksgiving to make it as stress free as possible?  Do you have any fun stories of Thanksgiving mishaps?  

 

Thanksgiving Recipes:

Harvest Salad

Apple Sage Sausage Patties

Sweet Potato Goodness

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake with Honey-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Sour Cream Apple Bars