Every year it’s the same. I know Thanksgiving is coming but as it gets closer the same panic ensues thru me. It’s accompanied by excitement and just a sheer love of the holiday but the fear of not pulling it all together in time seems to always take over.
Although, I have to admit I have gotten much better over the years and in my “older” age of chilling a little more and just basically learning to suck it up and work around the anxiety. I have also in all my many years of entertaining learned what works and what doesn’t…and those of you who know me, know I LOVE to share my tips and knowledge! LOL!
Honestly, it took a lot of screw-ups and hard embarrassing lessons learned to come to where I am today. Hopefully, by me taking the time to create this little blog and share it all with you, it will save YOU all the blood sweat and tears and mistake making over your years of entertaining (although I will say the best ideas sometimes come out of the worst mistakes). 🙂
Usually, a few weeks before I stand in the middle of my house and say…”How in the WORLD am I going to pull this disaster together?”. My house is VERY lived in, to say the least. I have the usual clutter and scatter everywhere… bills and junk mail on my tables, shoes and coats lying around, toothpaste in every sink, cob webs hanging in the worst places, toys, unorganized drawers and cupboards, laundry piles in every room but the LAUNDRY ROOM, all the usual suspects and most definitely not an atmosphere for overnight guests or entertaining!
So, unless you are one of those people who are “super hero” organized you are probably in the same boat as me. I would like to share with you the things I do to prepare, that make it even POSSIBLE for me to pull off any event I host.
First, your planning cannot start far enough ahead of time. Look at how much time most of us put into gift buying for Christmas…most start at least a month ahead…yet when it comes to entertaining we start pulling it together the week before…BIG mistake.
4-6 weeks before Thanksgiving I like to think about the guest list and extend invitations. Most people have more than one place to visit for this holiday so you want to make it easier for them to schedule it all in. Once I have an idea of how many are coming then I can start really planning.
Lists…lists…lists!!! They are my life’s blood! I use them everyday of my life…and it’s not just because I’m getting older lol I have been using this system since high school. Every night before I go to bed I make a list for the next day of all that I want to accomplish. Now this doesn’t mean I will accomplish it all, but it gives me a “goal” sheet and a reminder of what I need to get done.
Approximately 3 weeks before my lists begin. They get changed quite often, adjusted, and scribbled on throughout this process but it’s all for a great cause.**See? Piles of lists and scribbles lol 🙂 It works!
I have different categories I create lists for…
- MENU- I list all that I would like to serve then after I have spoken with all my guests to find out what they are bringing I make adjustments and mark what I am responsible for making.
-GUEST LIST- this is very important if you have a larger group. Not only do you not want to forget anyone but when you do your tablesettings and seating you need an accurate number. I also separate this list by who will be attending dinner, who will be visiting later for dessert, and how many children for the children’s table.
-SHOPPING LIST- This is HUGE! There is nothing worse than going to cook the day of and realizing you forgot something at the store! This is not something you want to “wing”. I also like to shop early. No later than the Tuesday before. You need the extra time for getting the house ready and leeway for forgotten items. You also want to do as much food prep as possible. Shopping early allows you to have your refrigerator organized and have all your chopping and slicing etc. done and ready for cooking.
-TO DO- My tried and true favorite. This is my everyday list but I make a separate one when I entertain. I do a weekly “to do” up to the week before then it’s daily. The list you make for the Wednesday before is the most important. Your goal here is to be so organized by Thursday that everything just sails! Remember this statement…….. “IF IT CAN BE DONE AHEAD.. DO IT!” EVERY single thing that CAN be done before Thursday SHOULD be done. I made up this saying and I live by it everyday. It is truly the only way to be any kind of organized.
-TABLESETTING/BUFFET- Another crucial list especially if you have to create seating for more than what you use everyday. When you have a dining room that normally seats 6 and you decide to host 25 guests for Thanksgiving its going to take some planning and rearranging. Most of us don’t have one room that can seat this many so it will take some creativity to make things comfortable for your guests. Every home is different and I have always believed where there is a will there is a way and the more the merrier!!! Also included on this list is your buffet layout. I always feel better taking the time to do this one. It basically helps you day of, to set up your food in an organized quick way because you did all the thinking about it ahead of time. Think about where you will put beverages, desserts, food, etc. I like to keep these items separated. It makes things flow better. I usually have an area maybe in the dining room for adult beverages, and another area maybe in the kitchen for all other beverages, coffee, pop, etc. This will keep the kiddos away from the adult libations lol! **Adult beverage station on my buffet in dining room
Now, these are the lists I prefer but you can always come up with categories that best fit what you need to accomplish.
A few weeks before when I can find the time I start to clean and organize the areas of the house that can’t be “re-messed” up before our big day. Maybe the guest bathroom cupboard, dusting down all the cobwebs, the frig, these types of tasks. Weekend before is when I do things like wipe down all the dining chairs, start to arrange things, even set all the tables if you have the room and can swing it, dust, put up any remaining decorations, do an inventory of dishes, flatware, glassware, etc. and make sure it’s freshly cleaned.
I personally could not pull this off without taking the Wednesday off before. I worship those who can. Maybe you should give me YOUR tips!! But, seriously that is the day I don’t leave the house! I get all the tables set, all my platters and serving utensils out and organized, bake all my pies, do all my food prep and have it in baggies ready to go, do a last inventory of ingredients and beverages, make sure all my place cards are written out and correct, check ice supply and make sure beverages are in frig and beverage areas are set up, clean the bathrooms, replace linens if I am having overnight guests, vacuum, set up turkey roaster and have all non perishable ingredients out on counter, do just a general straightening up and then threaten my family with bodily harm if they even think of touching ANYTHING! 🙂 No, Really….
Then there is the day of… if all goes well this will be stress free. I get up early and make a big pot of coffee, put on the cooking shows, (for some reason this calms me) and get started. I sometimes make an extra list if I have time of what I am cooking and in what order and I mark them off as I go. Just helps me along so I don’t get off track. Then when I get it all going I go get myself together and “beautified”… put on my second Thanksgiving apron, pour a glass of wine and get ready to get this party started! You will always have guests who come earlier than dinnertime so I like to be pulled together as early as possible.
It truly is the funniest thing… as soon as I get that meal served and everyone is situated and enjoying each other I literally feel the world lifted off my shoulders. It’s like when you give birth and you FINALLY push that baby out you get this huge sense of relief and you feel so relaxed (some of you may think that is some strange comparison!) 🙂 …THAT’S all of a sudden when I don’t care about my house, cob webs, junk mail, toothpaste filled sinks, laundry piles, dust, dirt, or grime, I only care about looking around at happy faces, full bellies, laughter, love, and family and friends…..well, and the smell of pumpkin spice and turkey… And… all I feel is THANKFUL and it was ALL worth it. 🙂
Happy Thanksgiving to you all and I hope this helps you make YOUR “day of” a success! 🙂
Created with love by:
Char Head 🙂