Think it’s too early to start planning Thanksgiving dinner? Think again! November 26 may seem like a long way off, but for the holiday host, it’s right around the corner. And for anyone counting, it’s only 14 days away. But don’t panic. This month, we’re bringing you preparation tips to ensure your Thanksgiving is as smooth as your gravy (should be).
The majority of these tips aren’t exactly new. But they’re still relevant today. Many moons (okay, six years) ago I was a regular contributor to Slahsfood, AOL’s now-defunct food blog. One of my favorite assignments was to prep readers for my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving! Thanks to the Wayback Machine, I’ve located the posts, edited them a bit for, er, modern times (I’m a grown-ass woman now), and am sharing them here.
In between our Thanksgiving tips posts, we’ll also be sharing some of our favorite original Thanksgiving recipes, so stay tuned or be sure to follow us on Facebook, or you know, whatever works for you.
Mid-November Thanksgiving To-Do
By this point, you should have a head count and have already placed an order for an appropriately sized turkey. You may have made an outline of your menu. Now it’s time for the heavy lifting. Try to do some of this over the weekend.
1. Finalize your menu.
You should have a rough idea of what you’re going to serve for the holiday meal. Now it’s time to decide how many pounds of Brussels sprouts you’ll need and how you’re going to prepare them. Are you going to brine your turkey? What kind of rolls are you serving? Salted or unsalted butter? Are you making pies or asking someone else to bring them? Now is the time to make all of those decisions, and then make a shopping list based on the recipes for each dish.
2. Get help.
Unless you’re independently wealthy and happen to employ a full-time garde manger, no one expects you to prepare the entire Thanksgiving dinner yourself. Doing so would take away from the spirit of Thanksgiving anyway. Remember that it’s more than okay to ask your guests to bring something.
If you’re afraid of outright asking, tell your friend’s girlfriend that your Thanksgiving dinner just wouldn’t be complete without her creamy cauliflower puree. And ask a family member who can’t cook to bring a bottle of wine and a store-bought pie (or a French pumpkin tart!).
Even though you probably don’t employ full-time kitchen help, and you’re doing this solo, asking a close friend or family member to come over in the morning and help you prepare is well worth the cappuccino and croissant you’ll buy her in return. Not only can she help you with prep work, she can also make last-minute trips to the store, lest you forget to buy butter or run out of salt.
3. Shop till you drop.
You don’t want to be cursing locals at the liquor store the day before Thanksgiving, do you? (I mean, that’s cool if it’s your thing…) Get as much shopping as you can done now, while you can still do it with equal parts ease and dignity. Load up on non-perishables and, more importantly, booze. The last thing you want to run out of on Thanksgiving is beer and wine. Seriously.
Once the food runs out (or people have eaten as much as they can, in the first round, anyway) your guests will want to sit around and drink for as long as you will let them. And while it’s absolutely acceptable to ask each one to bring a bottle of wine, as host or hostess you should have some stashed away. Plan on at least a bottle of wine per adult, and don’t worry about getting expensive stuff. Your guests will bring that, and after a few bottles go down wine is wine, right?
What else you can buy now:
- Frozen vegetables
- Cranberry sauce (if you’re using the canned stuff, but it’s so easy to make fresh)
- Paper products (paper towels, napkins and, yes, extra toilet paper)
- Dried spices and herbs
- Bag for your turkey if you plan to brine it
4. Beg, borrow and steal.
Okay, maybe don’t steal, but is your home equipped with everything you need to prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner? Are you sure? Do you have a stock pot big enough for boiling 15 pounds of potatoes? Or enough plates for dinner and dessert? What about wine glasses, chairs and serving pieces? Though a gravy boat is optional, if not antiquated, you’re going to need all the rest. If you don’t have a large stock pot, borrow one from your mom or a co-worker or neighbor. And if you find you can’t borrow everything you need, think about hitting thrift stores for kitschy, vintage finds.
How do you start prepping for Turkey Day? Tell us in the comments!