Halloween is over. Christmas is almost here. And Thanksgiving is right between the two. I use to love the holidays a lot more before I became a mom of 2 then got old and fat. Even a few years ago I enjoyed the holidays a lot more. Getting older just sucks the magic from everything it seems.
The holidays are stressful as f***. We all know that, regardless if you love them or not. Therefore, I decided to throw together a list of my own personal ways of making them not such a s*** show, plus some I found that I hope to try. Hope…. a word that means you wish you were a perfect mom.
I am in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year, because between me and my fiance’s family we do Thanksgiving dinner every other year with his family and mine.
Hopefully, I can take my own advice.
1. Have a plan. Then some.
I plan out all the food I am going to make and then some. I like to plan dishes but also have the runner-up dishes just in case it seems too much or I’m not feeling the originals I plan.
For example: If I plan on having green bean casserole but then get to the store, start grabbing ingredients, and then see something like spinach and decide, “you know what green bean casserole with everything else might be too much crap in the oven” then I do a cream spinach or green bean salad.
Figure out oven space, time of each dish, and how you will organize the kitchen so you can flip and do the electric slide in the most organized fashion. This helps a ton.
Of course, I usually do green bean casserole (such the trendie) but you get what I mean.
2. Figure out who is bringing what.
Assign people dishes if you have to. Have to? I mean force people to bring dishes if they want to eat. Thanksgiving is a potluck of the sort, so if you can, try to assign as many dishes to others as possible. Remember they only have to make one dish while you have to make a turkey, mashed potatoes, other dishes, along with setting everything up.
They better not put up a fight. Them making one dish makes your life a lot easier.
3. Make a grocery list.
Have every ingredient down to the pinch of pepper. Check your cabinets to see what you already have by going through the recipes. This makes the grocery trip a lot easier.
4. Turkey size.
I never know what size of giant blob of turkey to get. How big of a turkey, for how many people you are expecting. The rule is if you can’t carry it into your car it’s the perfect size…kidding. The rule is 3/4 to 1 pound of turkey per person, unless you also have a ham. Then you can cut that rule in half.
5. Turkey temperature.
Make sure to have a meat thermometer, it’s a good way to get out those holiday frustrations as well. Unless you are like me, and buy the fully cooked turkey. I’m sorry, I am just horrible at cooking turkeys. Have you seen the Santa Clause? Yeah, that’s nothing on me and I just saved everyone from food poisoning.
Anyways, make sure you don’t stick the thermometer to close to a bone, and as always with poultry, 165° F.
If you can prep the night before with any chopping, or getting any cold dishes ready, do it! Make sure you have non-perishables like alcohol or canned foods ready and done, so you can focus on the food.
We always pop open a can of olives as a side dish on the table, so this is sitting with the alcohol. If you have older kids they can help with stuff like that on the big day.
7. Get all the appliances, dishes out.
Make sure to dust and wipe the spider webs off all the good china and dish-ware ahead of time.
Then if you need the mixer, blender, whatever; get it out. Have it all in an organized fashion so you can do a dance number around the kitchen and everything is in the best spot.
8. Clean out the fridge.
This is a big one that I always forget, and then it is just hell trying to find spots for everything after you have to put it away. Don’t be like me where you just smash everything into the fridge and tape the door shut. Make sure you clean out the fridge, and have designated spots for everything. It is always bigger cooked than it is raw.
9. Clean out trashcans and the dishwasher.
Clean out the trashcan, the dishwasher as well the night before. Make sure to have extra trash bags too. Nothing’s worse than trying to stuff dishes into a dishwasher you forgot to run, or a half full trashcan.
At this point thinking about the trash can half full is not a good thing.
We have a bar, and a kind of bar area in my kitchen. Of course, we put all the alcohol on the bar bar, and then have all the other drinks on the kitchen bar for everyone to help themselves. They can grab their drinks and bring them to the table themselves. I am not a bartender, anymore….
This is better for guests anyways, to mingle before turkey time.
11. Don’t forget the wine!
Here is a trick to chill wine fast. Put the wine in the freezer for about 10- 15 minutes while wrapped in a damp towel, or you can use a damp paper towel. Use this tip for any day, and everyday.
12. Ice, Ice Baby.
There is never too much ice. Ask guests to bring bags of ice, and since the fridge will be packed then you can keep drinks cold, and whatever else in coolers.
If you made cute little napkin holders…which reminds me I need to get on that… do it ahead of time. Nothing needs to be too crazy, I tend to have edible decor. Why waste time and money when Thanksgiving is all about the food.
Like I said, the olives, then some nuts, we also do cream cheese celery raisin sticks, and you can use fall colors to decorate with edible decor. It’s fun, cute, and keeps the kids from going crazy, while also making you crazy, asking you when is dinner going to be ready.
14. Set the table the night before.
Have labels for each spot if you have a lot of people coming. Plus, set this up the night before, therefore it’s one thing that is out of your mind.
15. “Make your own breakfast” rule.
If you have guests from out-of-town then there isn’t time for breakfast hassle. Have easy things for people to get on their own, like cereal, and pastries. Show everyone where to get the bowls and spoons, and then it’s every man (or woman) for themselves.
Then make sure you put someone in charge of running and emptying the dishwasher. You have too much to do, forget that s***.
Label dishes with what you think will go in each dish. Guests ask if they can help, usually if they aren’t complete jackbutts, and this will make it easier for them to know what’s going on so you don’t have to stop what you are doing.
Make sure your recipes are all bookmarked and in a folder on your phone for quick access. This is my number 1 thing. I also usually have the bookmarks on different devices, such as phone, tablet, and computer. Then I am able to pull up multiple recipes at the same time.
Usually, you are cooking multiple dishes and it gets confusing minimizing 1 to look at another. I am surrounded by screens.
Oh no, the recipe calls for fresh rosemary! Instead of jumping the wall to the neighbors yard to rip a sprig off their bush, or running back out to the store; remember this rule. 1 teaspoon of dried herbs equals 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs. Herbs…herbs…however you say it.
20. Plan leftovers.
Instead of giving away all your Tubberware (you know this is it how it sounds), the dollar store has some great containers that are cheap and no big deal that you won’t get it back, because you won’t. Also, make sure you have lot’s of foil.
Then don’t forget to look up leftover recipes. Man, a turkey and mayo sandwich is the best, but there are also some really great and fun recipes for all those Thanksgiving leftovers, like stuffing mixed with egg muffins.
21. Pull out the stain removers.
In case one of the kids gets gravy all over the front of their new dress, or someone spills red wine on the carpet. With this much family in the house, accidents are bound to happen, and that’s the least of your worries.
The food is great, and after it is all said and done it can feel great. Until then though, I hope this list can help make the holiday season just a tiny bit easier. Have fun and good luck! If you and your family don’t end up killing each other. 🙂
What is the craziest Thanksgiving story you have?