1. Create a prep list,
just like caterers do before the big day. That list will take you through the 48 hours before you sit down to dinner and help you to make sure you don’t forget the placemats or the gravy amidst the hectic holiday buzz. You can make your own, or download an online prep list sheet here
2. Check your spice rack before the big day,
and throw out any spices that are past their expiration date. Safety-wise it should not be a health hazard to use old spices, but they won’t give your food the kick of flavor that you are looking for. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to buy new ones from the store before you start cooking! You can check different food’s shelf lives here
3. Thoroughly clean your house
(especially your oven!) over the days before Thanksgiving, so you only have to do a quick general sweep before your guests arrive. Any last-minute wayward toys or cell phone chargers can be quickly tossed in the bedroom before show time.
4. Child-proof and guest-proof the house.
Child-proofing isn’t a task that’s all on you: the parents can bring their own baby gates and toys to entertain the kids. Just makes sure all of your breakables are out of reach, along with anything sharp. You can “guest-proof” by making sure your guests can get around your home with ease. That means making sure all of the lights are working inside and out, so nobody trips over the porch or on their way to the bathroom!
5. Get in the holiday spirit.
You don’t have to go all-out to decorate your house for Thanksgiving. A few miniature pumpkins and/or squash decorating the tables and counters will set the scene, as will a vase of autumn-toned flowers. It’s an easy way to get your house looking cheerful and extra nice – which your guests will definitely notice. You can also recycle some of your Halloween decorations, as shown here
6. Don’t leave everything to the last minute.
Did you know that you can prep your pie crust dough ahead early and keep it fresh in the freezer? That; much easier than having one more thing to worry about on Thursday morning. In fact, as soon as you have your dishes planned you should start brainstorming what you can make ahead of time. The turkey is enough to worry about with the extra sides and desserts weighing on your mind!
7. Have a cup of tea on standby.
Sometimes preparing Thanksgiving dinner feels like a juggling act of potential crises – so make sure you take a moment aside to de-stress when possible. Taking a minute to yourself will help you focus when you go back to multi-tasking.
8. Get by with a little help from your friends.
It’s perfectly okay to ask for help on the big day. Preparing one giant meal for your family and friends is a lot of responsibility, so feel free to spread the tasks around. If your neighbor is going out of town, ask if you can borrow their oven, or delegate one family to bring the pies.
9. Create the perfect kids table.
Make sure the kid’s table has enough crayons, paper, and scissors to keep the little ones occupied as you focus on playing host and hostess. You can print out templates for turkey place cards for them to color, and assigning the older kids to watch over them will give the teenagers something to do.
10. Don’t forget to laugh.
If one of those potential crises becomes real, laugh it off. A bit of burned pie crust or dry turkey is nothing to let your Thanksgiving be ruined over – it’s a day all about being grateful after all.