|Chloe’s first Thanksgiving in 2009-my little sleeping Turkey.
Anyone who knows me that I am both disorganized and highly creative–a toxic, yet super fun mix. Cooking and feasting and celebrating, however, bring out my inner-organizational diva (even if she is wearing mismatched socks). Whether at my house or my parent’s home, I cook the Thanksgiving feast every year with the help of anyone who isn’t scared of being bossed around and who won’t comment on my unique sock choice.
Try these eight simple steps to a fabulous and organized Thanksgiving and you have plenty of energy for Black Friday shopping!
1. Brainstorm your menu
Gather a stack of cookbooks, magazines, recipe boxes, entries from your favorite websites and blogs and of course, all the yummy food on Nana’s Fabulous Life! Ask yourself–who are your guests? What dietary restrictions am I up against? How many are coming? What foods are must-haves? Make a list. Be sure to include appetizers, beverages, main entrees, sides, bread, dessert and even ideas for using leftovers. Make your list big–later you can pare it down.
2. Turkey or Tofu?
|Lily, Thanksgiving 2008, feet up.
A big roast turkey is the obvious choice for a main dish–but maybe something else suits your guests or you just don’t like or want to prepare an entire turkey or you want some variety or you are a vegetarian. Other fabulous Thanksgiving options include: fried turkey, the scary and fascinating Turducken, ham, tofu turkey, baked ziti, macaroni and cheese, turkey breast, turkey london broil or even something totally different. The options are endless–pick what appeals and serves you–not what is traditional.
3. Ain’t no shame in Stove Top
Take a critical eye to your list and turn it from brainstorm to menu. Decide what items you will cook, what you will ask guests to bring and what items you will buy pre-cooked or nearly pre-cooked. There are so many great and simple options–like Stove Top. Who cares whether you chopped up the stale bread for stuffing or opened a box and added water–it is good. And don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring something for the meal–your Great Aunt’s famous sweet potatoes will make the meal a family meal and save you valuable time.
4. Raid your pantry
Now you’ve made a list. raid your pantry–see what you already have on-hand and can incorporate into a menu. Check your freezer, refrigerator and spice cabinet, you will be surprised at what inspiration and ingredients you already have. As you go, feel free to edit your menu a little–maybe you have a boat load of string beans and can swap out the roasted carrots.
Also check your china cabinet and kitchen for serving platters and the necessary cooking gear. If you are missing something critical–like say, a roasting pan, add it to your shopping list. If you plan to have a formal table setting, check on your cloth napkins, silverware and dishes–make sure you have enough for all your guests.
|Cooking in my PJS. No socks this year.
5. Plan your time
Look at your menu and your shopping list and make a timeline of shopping and preparation. Don’t leave everything until Thanksgiving eve or morning or 1 hour before dinner. Work cleaning and catastrophe into your timeline–you need a clean kitchen to function and a cushion for when you accidently light something on fire or the dog steals the turkey, etc.
6. Prep for leftovers
I know this sounds overwhelming–but really it saves a load of hassle and Black Friday grocery shopping. When planning your Thanksgiving shopping list, make sure to add plastic food storage containers (great for you and great for guests to take away leftovers) and any special ingredients you may need to make your leftovers work for you. I always make Turkey Clubs for lunch the next day, so I make sure I have bacon, bread, lettuce and tomato. If you plan to make broth from the turkey bones, grab what you need to make the stock and the soup. Think through your leftovers and make it part of the plan.
7. Let go of your “Darlings”
My favorite college professor, Dr. Marra, always told me that I needed to let go of my “darlings.” He was talking about those fine little details and lovely little bits that I had trouble editing out of my writing. For Thanksgiving, let go of all your “darlings-” let go of the expectation that everything will be perfect, let go of last minute and maybe unnecessary items on your shopping list, let go of everything homemade and embrace the Stove Top. It will all be okay and much more fun.
8. Give Thanks
Cooking, organizing and cleaning are really time consuming and exhausting and can be stress inducing–but you have a meal to cook, a menu to organize and a house clean. So many others don’t. Give thanks, first, last and everywhere in between. And laugh. Really, if life was a sitcom, a towel on fire and a dog who consumed an entire 23 lb turkey would be really, really, really funny. And you will be thankful for the chance to laugh.
Check out all of Nana’s Fabulous Life Thanksgiving recipes, tips and crafts! Click Here