Friday, November 13, 2015

12 of the Best Planning Tips for Easy Thanksgiving Entertaining

We've been hosting Thanksgiving for more than two decades and over the years I've learned a lot about how to pre-plan, how to get everything hot and on the table at once and most importantly how to simplify this special occasion that can sometimes get complicated. It's helpful to map out the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Planning definitely has its perks and with the holiday right around the corner, now is the time to make your to do list! Here are some helpful tips to make this special occasion easier.

The Best Planning Tips for Easy Thanksgiving Entertaining

  • Sweep the "refrigerator slate" clean, so you have enough room for all the food that needs to be refrigerated before and after Thanksgiving.
  • Declutter the kitchen counters, it frees up room for preparing food. 
  • Thanksgiving is a big meal, so I like to serve light appetizers. Popcorn, hummus, salsa, and fresh vegetables are good choices if you want to go light and they all can be prepared in advance.
  • Keep the beverage selection simple. Red and white wine, apple cider, sparkling water, and a festive mixed drink is all you really need.
  • After I've planned the menu and made my grocery lists, I set the dining room table. It gets me in the spirit and it's something that can easily be accomplished ahead of time. When you do this, set aside all the serving vessels and utensils you will need. In addition to the dining room table, if you're serving the dinner from a buffet table, set this one as well.
  • Shop early for all the items you need that aren't perishable including beverages. When it gets closer to the day, pick up all your perishable items.
  • Many items can successfully be prepared in advance -- actually many are much better when they've had time to mingle with other ingredients. Cranberry sauce, chutney, mashed potatoes, the bread for the stuffing and some vegetable side dishes can be prepared a few days prior to Thanksgiving.
  • For optimum heating results, allow side dishes to come to come to temperature.
  • Turkey is meant to sit before carving, while the turkey or other meat is resting, warm prepared casserole dishes and vegetables in the still-hot oven. A great tip is to put each side you're heating into uniform casserole dishes, I can fit four 3-quart Pyrex dishes in my oven at once, the rest gets heated on the stove top. While the stove top and oven are at work heating the rest of the dinner, it's time to carve the turkey or other meat.
  • Place dinner plates on the warming element on the stove or in a warm place; the top of a radiator works great.
  • A 350° oven temperature is an appropriate common ground when cooking a lot of dishes in the oven at the same time.
  • Once you've pulled everything out of the oven and you are ready to serve dinner, place the rolls/biscuits in the oven. They typically only take a few minutes to warm. They're usually finished just when everyone has filled their plates. Place in a basket and pass them once everyone is seated.