We are already into November and Thanksgiving is not that far off. If you plan on making the Thanksgiving feast for your family and friends this year, now is the time to start planning. This year I will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my house and having my son and his girlfriend, my parents, my brother, and my in-laws join us. My plans have already begun!
Think About the Food
- Classic versus New
Most of my family prefers classic foods for Thanksgiving. However Hubby and I always like to try new things. When planning my menu I have to have a mix of both things so that everyone will be satisfied with the choices.
- The Turkey
It is a given for most of us that we will serve turkey on Thanksgiving. Not only do you need to think about how you will prepare the bird but also what kind of turkey to get. We are not all slave to a frozen turkey these days. You can get organic, free range, fresh (never frozen), whole turkeys, turkey parts, and many other options. We have been doing fresh turkeys lately and really can tell a noticeable difference. I have been getting mine at Whole Foods. Check with your local grocer to see what options they will have available and order one, if necessary. Most likely Hubby will want to cook our turkey on the grill or in the smoker, fine by me. We have also done fried turkeys in the past. Whatever method you prefer, plan ahead now and make sure you have the proper sized cooking vessels.
- The Sides
As I said, I will do a mix of classic and newer recipes. Ask your guests if they have any favorites that they would like you to have – but only ask if you are willing to make them. My son has requested his standard cranberry muffins. Hubby will most likely request, ugh, green bean casserole.
Will you make a pumpkin pie? Buy one ready made? Desserts are also great items to have guests bring. My mother-in-law will be brining a mincemeat pie which is a favorite of Hubby and his dad. We will have another dessert also for the rest of us who aren’t such fans of mincemeat.
Don’t forget to think about what everyone likes to drink. Can you get away with coffee, tea, and water? Or do you have someone who drinks a certain kind of soda? Think about some wine or other drinks as well. I will be sharing some Thanksgiving cocktail recipes in the upcoming Friday’s here on my blog.
- Special Diets
Many people have dietary restrictions these days. You might have someone who eats gluten-free, who is diabetic, vegan or vegetarian, or someone with other allergies. Make sure you ask when you invite them so you will have options available that are safe for them to eat.
Think About the Table
Do you have enough dinner plates for everyone who will be attending Thanksgiving? I have my grandmother’s china which I will be using. Often my family uses paper plates though on holidays to save on the dishes. There is no shame in that!
This is another item that you may not currently have enough pieces for the amount of guests you have. Count up your pieces to be sure. I know for some reason forks and spoons disappear in my house – I have no idea where they go. If you are going to go with disposable I would suggest the better quality disposables though and not the super cheap stuff.
This is another one you can go with real or disposable based on your needs. Growing up I remember my grandma having me set a glass and fill it with ice and each place setting but half of them never got used because people were drinking something else already.
- Serving Pieces
I love having pretty serving bowls and platters for everything. Some people are perfectly fine with putting the pots on the table though. Just think ahead and make sure you have enough of whatever type of vessels you need for all of the foods you will be serving.
- Linens and Centerpieces
Holidays are really the only time I put a tablecloth on the table. The reason for this is that my cats would get fur all over them if I had them on all of the time. For Thanksgiving though I will get out one of my linen tablecloths to make it all look more festive. Centerpieces are nice, but I generally barely have enough room for all of the foods let alone a centerpiece. I love the idea of them though.
I have six chairs that go with my table. The other chairs will be a hodge podge of office chairs and folding chairs from around the house. As long as everyone has a place to sit I think they don’t really mind what kind of chair they sit on. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family if they have folding chairs they can bring if you are short a few.
Pre and Post Dinner Entertainment
- Before Dinner
While you are busy prepping and cooking you are bound to have some guests waiting. For many families watching the football game or a parade keeps them occupied but not everyone wants to watch TV. Have a playlist of nice background music available. Maybe put out some easy games or even turn on the Xbox or the Wii.
- After Dinner
I have some in my family who are eat and run type of folks, that’s okay, whatever floats their boat. Some of them though will stay and chat and visit which I enjoy. Still have some of those other activities (see above) available in case someone gets bored.
- Kid’s Activities
If you have younger children that will be joining you consider having a box of goodies just for them. Print out some fun coloring pages, puzzles, have crayons and markers, or look for of the easy craft kits for Thanksgiving projects that they can make.
- Start Buying Now
This is especially true of some grocery items. Most stores will start having some of those classic Thanksgiving items on sale already. Pick up a few of the shelf stable things on each trip to the store between now and Thanksgiving to spread out the cost.
- Ask Guests to Bring a Dish
There is no harm in doing this. Ask guests to each bring a side dish to help cut down on the cost of the meal if you need to. Most area always happy to help. Just coordinate who is brining what so you don’t end up with duplicates.
- Reuse What You Have
Look for things you may already have around your house that you can use. Do you have a tablecloth already? Enough plates, glasses, and silverware to use – it may mean more dishes to wash, but it is less expensive. Ask the kids to create a centerpiece from craft supplies they already have and things they can gather in nature.
This may sound like a lot, and it ease, which is why you are better off to start planning ahead now so you don’t get overwhelmed as Thanksgiving gets closer.
Do you have any ideas or tips to share about planning for Thanksgiving?[signoff]
© 2015, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.