. Between Now and the Thanksgiving Kitchen
Thanksgiving dinner really stresses me. Yes, I get very uptight because traditionally we have this meal in our home with just our immediate family which means that I am chef of all the dishes which are served. This has often been overwhelming to me because I like cooking and I do know how to cook, but I don’t like to spend the week in the kitchen.
Our Thanksgiving tends towards the intimate, sacred, and simple. Since we spent one Thanksgiving eating our meal in our son, Evan’s, hospital room, we have always felt it a special holiday. We have added football on TV to our activities, and include friends and family occasionally, usually extended family that live near us going to school or single friends who have no where else to go.
Needless to say, it is a time when I must be on the alert for sales (to save money), for good recipes (to improve on last year’s pumpkin pie), and for ways to save time and trouble (to make this year’s centerpiece special without being too time consuming).
I have learned three skills I would like to share:
1) After you have put your menu together, make up a written list of what your guests might do to help out with the meal and put it near the phone. This not only lets your guests feel like they are contributing, but relieves pressures here and there for you, too. When a guest wants to help I usually let them make up the favors and name tags, or bring two kinds of drinks, or provide a fruit/vegetable relish tray. These are small things, perhaps, but one less item on my “to do” list and makes them feel great, too.
2) I shop two weeks before Thanksgiving for my staples, supplies, and treats. It is better to have a good stash early, then to spend a lot of time waiting, worrying, and scurrying trying to find the right kind of cranberry sauce at the last moment. In other words, half my stress leaves when my turkey is in the freezer and my frig and shelves are stocked.
3) I always invite the women to bring their aprons, plastic dishes, and aluminum foil and share cleaning up with me. This gets the dishes done up fast and allows us to make up leftover containers for everyone so the company leaves with a second or sometimes even a third meal to take home.
4) I am learning that it is only a meal, and simple is always better. At the same time, if I am making up a recipe, I will usually double it. Two batches of dressing takes little more trouble now and will relieve my need to cook much for a good week or more and even can be frozen for a mid-December quick meal when the stress of that month is upon me.
So, plan, invite, shop, share, and double! May your Thanksgiving this year be just a bit better. And, if you are going somewhere else, please volunteer to help out so your hostess will have a really nice day, too!
Find more helpful ideas in my House of Order Handbook.
Photo by Sandy Sellers. Used with permission.