November 14, 2013
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Hassle-Free Hosting

Thanksgiving is a time for connecting with family and friends, enjoying a delicious meal – and, of course, giving thanks.  If you’re hosting this year’s Thanksgiving feast, take a look at “Low-Stress Thanksgiving Timeline” below.  You just might find a trick or two that keeps kitchen chaos to a minimum and takes the hassle out of Thanksgiving preparations.

A Low-Stress Thanksgiving Timeline
The secret to being a low-stress holiday host is advanced preparation. Instead of panicking, spend your time planning the steps that can be done before the big day.

Two Weeks Before

  • Decide which recipes you want to make. Look for recipes that use the same oven temperature, so that they can cook side-by-side.
  • Re-read each recipe and determine which parts of the dish can be prepared in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
  • Figure out what size turkey you need and reserve one at your local supermarket. If you want just enough meat to get you through the day, plan for one pound per guest. For leftover turkey-stuffing-cranberry sandwiches, purchase one and a half pounds of bird per guest.
  • If you need a large turkey, consider buying two 10 to 12-pounders instead, which can be roasted side-by-side. They’ll thaw faster, cook faster, and retain more moisture than one big bird.

The Weekend Before

  • Make a detailed shopping list, checking over your recipes for any necessary ingredients.
  • Get your major grocery shopping done, but remember that you’ll head back to the store in a few days to pick up the turkey. So, don’t fret if you forget a stick of butter or can of pumpkin pie filling.

Tuesday

  • Prepare all of the side dishes and desserts that you’ll be serving chilled, such as cranberry sauce or chocolate cream pie.
  • Cover and store them in your refrigerator, and you won’t have to think about them again until you place them on the table.

Wednesday

  • Before you head to the market to pick up your turkey, check for any last items that you’ll need to grab while you’re there.
  • Wash and chop all of the vegetables you’ll be using the next day. Pat them dry and store them in plastic bags in the fridge.
  • Prepare and bake any desserts that don’t need to be served freshly hot. They can always be re-warmed during Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Prepare – but don’t bake – the stuffing. Assemble it in a baking dish, cover, and refrigerate.
  • Start to prepare any side dishes that can be made partly or completely in advance.

On the Big Day

  • Pop the turkey in a 425-degree oven for 45 minutes, then cover with foil and reduce the heat to 350-degrees. Depending upon the size of the turkey, roasting time can range from two to four-and-a-half hours, until the thigh reaches 180-degrees.
  • While the turkey roasts, cook your side dishes, and take care of any clean up that you can get out of the way before dinner.
  • While the turkey rests, make the gravy and re-warm the side dishes that you made the day before.
  • While you’re enjoying your turkey dinner, re-warm your dessert in the oven.
  • Accept help in clearing and cleaning from your well-fed guests.
  • Sit back, relax, and enjoy the company of your friends and family on Thanksgiving.

What are your tricks for keeping your cool when hosting for the holidays?  Feel free to share your hassle-free hosting tips by adding a comment below!