Written by   
Saturday, 25 June 2011 00:30

So you’re going to host the family gathering this Thanksgiving? If you ask any well-seasoned veteran, planning for the day is almost as important as the food preparation. Because of the “feast” theme which...


Turkeyinvariably accompanies any turkey day celebration, laying out a schedule of what to do is absolutely essential. You can avoid last-minute rushes, blood pressure spikes, and embarrassing dilemmas by proper planning. So let’s get started with some ideas.

  • First, put your checklist in writing. Even the keenest intellect cannot remember all of the details of what to do and when to do it.
  • Select your menu. Cover the bases from appetizers, to soups, salads, meats, vegetables, desserts and drinks. Print or make available each and every recipe. If the recipes are on cards, pull them from your file. If online, there should be a print option. Make your own bookmarks with scheduled times and dates visible if cookbooks are used.
  • Prepare a list of table setting items including serving pieces, glassware, centerpieces, linens, etc.
  • If other family members are included in the preparation, list the food or decor item along with the donor’s name. Note here, it’s always to good idea to assign a guest the task of bring additional ice so as not to take up valuable freezer space.
  • Since we’re talking about space, be sure to inventory your refrigerator to throwout any space-occupying items that are almost empty, haven’t been used in months, or appear or smell fishy. The more space you have available, the less likely a panic.
  • On Monday, do your shopping for food, drinks, and decor. Included in this list would be items such as spices, coffee, tea, trash bags, disposable roasting pans, extra food storage containers, wine, spices and condiments. If a frozen turkey is purchased, you might begin the extended defrost time in your refrigerator today. See what I mean about getting it all on paper!
  • Tuesday is your day to clean and polish any silver utensils or serving pieces. Be sure to check your inventory of clean linens (tablecloths and napkins). You may also commence preparation of menu items that allow preparation two days in advance.
  • On Wednesday we began the home stretch. This will hopefully be your busiest day—tomorrow you want to be relaxed and gracious. Aren’t you impressed when the hosts are able to calmly take time to extend a nice greeting to arriving guests, answer various questions without rolling their eyes and throwing up there hands, and quietly assign last-minute duties to volunteers? So on this day activities should include getting menu items assembled into their cooking containers, washing turkey, removing giblets, and perhaps beginning the brining process. Checking your list for all items that can be prepared today in readiness for tomorrow. This is also the day to set your table, arrange flowers, and clean the house. So maybe you might enlist some help. Lastly, do not retire for the evening until you have a minute-by-minute time table as to when things should happen tomorrow. You cannot possibly prepare it with too much detail, trust me!
  • Thanksgiving Day has arrived. Your schedule should allow you to calmly execute the written plan for the day. If your plans include frying the turkey be sure to review the recipe and safety instructions on this website. Hopefully, no unscheduled events occur like a family member who shows up with 4 cans of green beans because they volunteered to bring a vegetable; or the family cat has attempted to remove the table runner from your meticulously decorated masterpiece. Take a deep breath, relax, smile, and make everyone envious of how fantastic a host your are. Of course that’s a sure ticket to being selected to host the event next year!

Roasting Times. I’ve seen many charts assigning various roasting times based on different weights of your turkey. Most approximate those times and conditions based upon whether or not the bird is stuffed, your oven’s personality, and the frequency the oven door is opened as additional dishes or added or removed. My best suggestion is to invest in an inexpensive heat resistant probe that is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. A cable running from the probe to a device which is magnetically attached to the outside of the oven door and set to sound an alarm when a 165 degree temperature is reached. Piece of cake—no need to be peeping through the oven window or wondering if perhaps your chart had a misprint and the cooking time was over or under by 30 minutes; and your dinner guests sit politely wondering why the turkey is so difficult to chew or how did this bloody fowl end up surviving your oven’s environ!

I wish you the best this upcoming holiday; and when it’s all over, sit down with a nice cup of hot coffee (or something stronger) and reflect on how much you’ve enhanced and made this Thanksgiving Day so special for others.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 July 2011 16:17