Thanksgiving? … What, already?
Despite the fact that, yes, we are still in the full swing of summer, we are indeed suggesting that you start thinking ahead to the fourth Thursday in November — aka, Thanksgiving.
If you’ve ever hosted Thanksgiving at your house before, you already know how stressful it can be. And as with most things that are stressful, planning ahead can do wonders for relieving anxiety and ensuring that everything is in its right place for the big event.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, have some fun with it! The following tips will help get you started as you begin planning to host this year’s Turkey Day.
6 Tips to Plan Ahead for This Year’s Thanksgiving
1. Get a rough estimate on your guest count.
While it may be a challenge to get a firm number when it comes to how many guests you’ll have, at least give it the old college try by putting out feelers to your family and/or friends.
Knowing a rough headcount can help get you oriented for how many standard adult dining room chairs you’ll need, how many kids chairs you’ll need, how many place settings you’ll need, and of course — how much food you’ll need.
2. Start planning your menu.
Many Thanksgiving Day dinner hosts make the fateful mistake of saying, “Oh, we’ll just have the usual” and don’t plan out their menu.
In reality, even if you have an extremely traditional Thanksgiving meal, you still have lots of choices to make:
- Will your stuffing be inside or outside the turkey?
- Will your cranberry sauce be canned or homemade?
- Canned or homemade gravy?
- How will you make your potatoes?
- What hors d’oeuvres will you serve?
- What drink options will you offer?
- Will there be a pre-dinner salad?
- Which other sides do you want to offer? Corn? Green beans?
- What’s for dessert?
- Who should bring what?
3. Get your calendar out and mark key dates.
Having your menu all planned is one huge checkmark off your list of things to do. But if you really want to be ultra-prepared, you’ll mark your calendar with some key dates.
Most notably, be sure to plan ahead for when you should:
- Contact guests to get a solid headcount
- Order your turkey
- Order other dishes such as bread, pies, or cakes
- Go shopping for ingredients (don’t leave this till the last minute as the store is always a zoo right before Thanksgiving Day)
- Get out extra dining chairs, tables, or the leaf for your dinner table
- Clean your home in anticipation of company
4. Shop for any necessary cooking equipment and tools
This one’s mostly for people who have never made Thanksgiving dinner themselves before. You’d be surprised at how much you actually need!
The first thing to make sure you have is something to roast your turkey in. A large roasting pan that’s big enough to fit an entire turkey is what most households are missing if they’ve never hosted Thanksgiving.
You should also consider purchasing:
- Cooking string (to truss your turkey)
- A baster
- A fat separator
- A potato ricer and/or masher
- A carving set and/or an electric knife for cutting the turkey
- A sturdy carving board
- A stockpot (to make turkey stock with the leftover carcass)
- A Dutch oven (useful for making mashed potatoes)
- Rimmed baking sheets
- Serving dishes and serving utensils
- Gravy boats
5. Do any grocery shopping you can right now too.
Sure, you’ll need to wait to purchase items like potatoes, green beans, onions, and many other ingredients. But if there’s anything you can get now, by all means, get it.
This might include:
- Frozen rolls
- Frozen pie crusts
- Canned items (pumpkin puree, olives, gravy, cranberries, pie filling, etc.)
- Seasonings and spices
- Sugar, flour, and other baking ingredients
- Stuffing mix
6. Don’t forget about you!
Lastly, don’t forget to consider yourself on Thanksgiving Day. You’ll likely be a whirlwind all week, so start thinking now about what you want to wear, how you’ll do your hair, how you’ll do your makeup, and when you’ll make time during the day to get yourself prepped for your guests.
Planning any holiday dinner comes with a lot of stress and tension. And even with ample preparation, you’ll likely be scrambling last-minute to complete some tasks. Still, as Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said: “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
In other words, even if you don’t end up using all of the plans you set out to get prepared today, the fact that you went through the motions will be highly useful as the battle approaches (and is not Thanksgiving day much like a battle?) — we think so!
So, don’t wait. Use the tips above to start getting your Thanksgiving day event ready today!