As soon as you finish putting up your fall decorations make your grocery list. This can be a week or two weeks in advance of the big dinner. Even though we have a whole day off from work to make and eat the most festive meal of the year, it doesn't mean we can cram all the prep work in the week of Thanksgiving. Plan so you can pick up items little-by-little. Buy all the non-perishables and frozen items a week in advance and buy the produce the weekend before Thanksgiving. Two days before the meal, cut up all the vegetables you plan on cooking and fruit you plan on baking. Keep them in a closed container in the refrigerator and they should be good to make anything you can the night before Thanksgiving day. It will save you the time and energy you'll need to make everything else perfect.
People do it every year in anticipation of a big holiday meal: they don't eat beforehand and they arrive to Thanksgiving hungry. You can't remind them all to eat a bit before they get to your house, but you can serve snacks. Serve a few plates of munchies to tide them over until dinner time.
Stick With What You Know
If you've never deep-fried a turkey, this is not the day to try it. Fried turkey dinners often end in disaster; every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association, deep-fryers cause 5 deaths, 60 injuries and $15-million in property damage. The NFPA recommends not using deep fryers to cook your turkeys to avoid danger and disaster. Roasting a turkey in the oven may make your dinner an ordinary holiday dinner, but there's something to be said for safety and tradition.
Share The Load
Make it a potluck Thanksgiving. Make a list of all the people you're inviting along with their guests, make a list of everything you need for the meal and then dole out the duties. There's no reason for one person to shoulder all of the Thanksgiving responsibilities. Just opening up your home to guests and providing a turkey is a lot to take on; friends and family will be more than happy to contribute to the holiday dinner.
Clean As You Go
Thanksgiving is all about the food and food requires a lot of pots and pans for preparation and dishes for dining; those items have to be washed at some point and washing them at the end of the night can be as big of an event as dinner itself. Save yourself from stress and start cleanup as soon as you start cooking to save you counter space and a lot of time. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Guests are always glad to assist and you'll be happy to have a clean house before the guests go home.
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