Every family tells its share of classic disasters at the holidays. Prevent your Thanksgiving event from becoming a family legend by planning ahead. A checklist for all of your hosting duties ensures the turkey isn’t still frozen and the guests are entertained. Referring to a list reduces the chances of omitting an important step in the preparation process.
Create the guest list several weeks in advance. Send out the invitations at least three weeks ahead of Thanksgiving so the guests can make plans to attend. The size of the party determines the amount of food needed and the activities.
Decide on the menu for the Thanksgiving meal at least two weeks ahead. Determine how much food you will need. Make a list of ingredients you will need based on the menu selections.
Shop for all of the supplies as soon as your menu is finalized, leaving only perishable items till the week of Thanksgiving. Consider that a frozen turkey takes several days to fully thaw so you need it at least a week early. Pick up the non-perishables with the turkey to avoid the crowds that will fill the stores closer to the holiday and the empty shelves. Pick up the fresh foods a day or two before Thanksgiving.
Decorations on the Thanksgiving dinner table adds a festive touch. Choose a centerpiece, table settings, napkins and table cloths for the dinner table. If you are ordering floral centerpieces, order them several weeks in advance to ensure that your preferred florist can fit you into her schedule. If you are making the arrangements, assemble them a week or two before Thanksgiving. Purchased centerpieces take little preparation but if you wait too long to buy them, you may find poor selection at the store. Set the table the night before.
Simple entertainment, such as watching the parade or football games, works well if it fits your personality. Other options include board games, Thanksgiving crafts, karaoke and outdoor games. Gather supplies for the entertainment at least one week in advance and put them in the room where the activity will take place. Set up different areas if you will have multiple activities available.
Make a timeline for the food preparation to ensure everything has time to cook. Anything that can be made ahead and frozen will save time for other items on the stove and in the over. Prepare as much of the meal as possible the day before to reduce stress on the actual holiday. This may include mixing up casseroles, baking desserts and preparing the bread for homemade stuffing. Finish off the cooking the day of the dinner.