10 Sanity-Saving Thanksgiving Tips
By: Bluma Gordon, Lubicom Marketing Staff
Let’s face it. Hosting a large Thanksgiving meal can be exciting, gratifying—and stressful. Grab these sanity-saving tips to up the pleasure and lower the strain.
1. The Problem: Thanksgiving shopping is hurting your pocketbook.
The Solution: It’ll make less of a dent in your purse if you plan ahead of time. Prepare a menu before going shopping to avoid buying extra ingredients, “just in case.” Ask your guests to RSVP to the invitations, so you don’t end up investing in extra portions. And if you shop ahead of time, you can compare prices, catch sales, and save cash.
2. The Problem: There’s so much to cook, and so little time.
The Solution: Cooking 6 dishes in a few short hours can be overwhelming. If you’ve never tried cooking and freezing ahead of time, try it—you’ll be surprised by how well most dishes freeze. You can also prepare ahead of time by a slow-cooking recipe overnight in a crockpot while you snooze.
3. The Problem: There’s no time for all the extras.
The Solution: Chopping up veggies for salads and preparing appetizers, sides, dips, and dessert can take hours. Here’s how to get the little things done in less time:
a) Simplify: Don’t sweat on complicated hors d ‘oeuvres or desserts. Choose recipes that are basic, practical, and delicious.
b) Buy: Instead of chopping and preparing from scratch, buy pre-cut veggies from a salad bar, plus one or two other dishes to save time.
c) Outsource: Most guests are happy to chip in and help. Ask your guests what salad, appetizer, side, or dessert they can bring.
d) Minimize: If you insist on preparing the food yourself, keep the extras to a minimum. Make two salads, one appetizer, two sides, and one dessert. Your guests won’t starve, I promise.
4. The Problem: Your turkey dries out.
The Solution: Tackle the dry-turkey problem with these tips from top chefs:
a) Moisten: Rub margarine and herbs underneath the skin.
b) Brine: Have your turkey sit in brine overnight before it cooks.
c) Prepare extra gravy: If you’re going to reheat the turkey, prepare precooked gravy or chicken broth to pour over the turkey if it starts to dry out.
5. The Problem: Your guests arrive, and the food isn’t ready.
The Solution: It is not easy to keep 20 hungry, impatient guests entertained, and out of the kitchen. Set some appetizers, snacks, or dips on the dining room table so your guests can munch while they wait. Keep them busy with classic board games and old family photo albums.
Try some of these snack options!
6. The Problem: There are fidgety, picky kids at the table.
The Solution: Keep all the little ones calm by making the environment kid friendly.
a) Prepare kid-friendly foods: Don’t expect the little ones to go for salmon or pumpkin pie. Place plates of chicken nuggets, fries, and franks in blanks next to the kids. Extra points if you have room for a separate kids’ table! Learn more tips for keeping kids happy here!
b) Hand out goodie bags.
Surprise the little people with prepared bags of knick-knacks, stickers, and crafts to keep them busy during and after dinner.
7. The Problem: There’s not enough space in your fridge.
The Solution: Who said iceboxes are obsolete? Clear off much-needed shelf space by storing bottles and other refrigerated items in an ice-filled cooler for the time being.
8. The Problem: There’s not enough space in the oven for heating food.
The Solution: No need to keep guests waiting as each course takes its turn heating in the oven. Try these other no-brainer options:
a) Use other heating alternatives: Microwaves and food warmers are great alternatives to the oven or stovetop. You can also keep oven-fresh food hot and save space by lining a cooler with foil and placing the food inside.
b) Don’t serve it all hot: Not everything needs to be served piping hot. Some dishes—like pasta and potato salad—taste good cold or at room temperature. If you know you’re going to be tight on oven space, you might want to prepare one or two dishes that don’t need reheating.
9. The Problem: You’re too busy serving to enjoy your guests.
The Solution: Instead of spending the whole meal dividing portions, go buffet-style, and set up a side table for food. You can also place large self-serving bowls on the main table; just be sure to set up multiples of dishes, so guests don’t have to ask for food at the other end of the table.
10. The Problem: You’re left with a giant mess.
The Solution: Thinking about the mess probably makes knots in your stomach, but there are ways to keep it to a minimum.
a) Go disposable: Forget the reusables and invest in disposable cookware, serving utensils, and containers. You don’t even have to compromise on looks; you can choose from a stunning selection of heavyweight plastics, cutlery, and tablecloths priced at just a few dollars.
b) Get help: While you might not take up your guests’ generous offers for help in the kitchen, who can resist an offer for cleanup help after the meal? Hand out garbage bags after the meal for a speedy cleanup.
c) Hire help: You might want to consider hiring help for serving and cleaning during and after the meal. It can make the difference between a hectic and stress-free dinner.
While you might be tempted to replicate picture-perfect images of decadent delicacies on china plates, think about whether the stress factor is worth your while. After all, Thanksgiving is all about appreciating life together with loved ones.