Top Tips to Simplify Thanksgiving 2012
Can you believe we are less than two weeks away from Thanksgiving? I’m not sure about you, but that can be a bit stressful with the busyness of the season. If you have a larger family, or like in my case, young kids that make it feel like a large family, then there can be added stress trying to plan for Thanksgiving dinner.
Truth is, I like simple.
I want to enjoy my holiday, but I also don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen for hours (or days), so I need simple and easy solutions to relieve stress, and increase the time I can spend with my loved ones. So, here are some simple tips to help make your (and my) Thanksgiving run smoother and easier.
1. Make a plan. Prepare your guest list and menu. Find out how many guests you will have (or at least estimate how many people you think will be there). You can plan your menu accordingly and then create a list of what items you’ll need from the store. But before you buy everything…
2. Have a “potluck”. Ask guests to bring a favorite dish to dinner. Not only will this allow them to contribute their favorite item, but it will cut down on the cost of putting on the meal. Depending on how many people you have coming, you may even want to plan a “Thanksgiving Potluck” with everyone’s favorites. This will also relieve the amount of time you are spending in the kitchen on all of the different dishes!
3. Take a cut. If you are preparing all the Thanksgiving dishes yourself, save some time by buying certain vegetables, like squash, pumpkin, onions, lettuce etc, already pre-cut to use in salads, soups, or side dishes.
4. Enjoy someone else’s cooking. Many grocery stores or restaurants will have different holiday dishes already made and you don’t have to skimp on quality just because you buy pre-made. Whole Foods, for example has everything from organic Turkey to stuffing and potatoes, all ready to order. And who wouldn’t love a Marie Callendar’s pie? If you have a favorite store or restaurant, ask what products they will have available for Thanksgiving. Just make sure to ask about pre-ordering to make sure they have the dishes you want in stock.
5. Ditch the turkey. One of my favorite family traditions is that we always try something new with Thanksgiving. If it is a ham, Cornish hen, salmon, BBQ chicken, or even chimichangas (served with spicy chorizo stuffing!), my family likes to try something new each year. Yes, it is fun to have the traditional Thanksgiving meal – but a tradition with variety is always full of surprises.
6. Make it ahead. When you are looking over your menu, check off items that you can make ahead of time (like cranberry sauce, desserts, salads, etc). You can find more make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes at Real Simple. This will save you time and stress the morning of (or maybe it will give you a little extra time to start shopping the early Black Friday deals!).
7. Involve the kids. Kids can help with setting a table, decorations, entertainment and even cooking (depending on age). They can also be big helpers at clean-up as well by clearing the table, loading the dishwasher or drying dishes. I really do love having my kids help, even in the smallest way, because even if the decorations are crooked, the place-settings off-center, having their small touches throughout the day helps to show what Thanksgiving is all about. Being thankful for my blessings.
How else do you try to make Thanksgiving less stressful?