Thanksgiving is an opportunity to spend time with friends and family while you share stories and updates over delicious homemade offerings. It is a wonderful meal, but hosting Thanksgiving can be a stressful and tiring task. Luckily, there are many ways to make this festive meal easier including planning ahead, asking guests to bring side dishes and focusing on the true message of Thanksgiving. We at Williams and McDaniel Property Management want to wish our current and prospective residents a Happy Thanksgiving and hope these tips ensure a stress-free celebration.
Give Your Guests a Job
Hosts should not feel obligated to prepare or serve appetizers before sitting down to a gigantic meal. However, if your guests want to bring something ask for small items like gourmet olives, dips or crackers. Make sure you tell them not to bring anything that needs to be heated up, as your oven will be busy preparing the turkey and warming up side dishes.
Strategic Grocery Shopping
For added convenience, plan your Thanksgiving menu around recipes that can be prepared in advance and take this opportunity to address any dietary restrictions (gluten-free, vegetarian etc.). Make sure you create your Thanksgiving menu before you head out to the grocery store and attach a shopping list to your refrigerator, so that you can add items as they come to mind. This will limit the number of trips you make to the grocery store because of forgotten items. Pre-ordering a turkey is another tip that can seriously cut down on stress and help you avoid the struggle of finding a last-minute bird. Many grocery stores and butchers allow you to pre-order meats and pick them up before the Thanksgiving rush.
Creating a menu with recipes that can be made in advance will eliminate the amount of cooking and stress you’ll feel on the day of the event. Limit cooking on Thanksgiving Day to include the turkey, gravy and potatoes; everything else should just be assembled or reheated.
Make your family’s favourite secret turkey marinade three or four days before Thanksgiving and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you use it.
Cranberry Sauce, Stuffing and Breads
Prepare your cranberry sauce, baked breads and delicious stuffing a week before the big meal and freeze. They can be thawed out the morning of or the evening before the meal.
Vegetables Dishes and Salads
Start preparing salads and vegetable-based dishes one or two days before your meal. Green salads don’t keep well, so it is recommended that you substitute carrot, beet or bean salads in for traditional greens. Dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Bake Ahead and Freeze
Taking care and creating the dessert portion of your Thanksgiving meal ahead of time will not only save time and help you avoid stress, but it will also ensure that you can focus your attention on the main meal instead. Most people bake the week before and freeze the desserts until they are needed. Whether you’re making pies, cakes or cookies, here are some ways to properly store them until the big reveal.
Keep cake moist and soft by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and storing it in the freezer without frosting. If you’re also interested in making the frosting in advance, it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Remove the cake from the freezer and the frosting from the fridge, either the day before or morning of your Thanksgiving meal, and remember to frost the cake while it is still cold.
Most pies freeze well. Notable exceptions include pumpkin, cream and custard pies. One way around this involves creating pie dough in advance – freezing it if you choose – and separately creating pumpkin pie filling and storing it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. The pie dough, which can keep for up to three months, can be thawed and the filling added for a delicious, fuss-free pie. The only thing left to do is pop it in the oven. If you’re baking your pie straight from the freezer, be sure to tack on an extra 15 minutes to the regular bake time.
Get creative with plastic egg cartons and use them to store and freeze your large batches of cookie dough. You can bake them right from frozen the night before or the morning of your Thanksgiving gathering. For best results and to avoid burning the bottoms bake cookies at 325 degrees and keep a watchful eye on them.
With so much going on concerning food prep and entertaining guests, it is important to take time to reflect on the original purpose of Thanksgiving – showing gratitude for the things and people we have in our lives. Everything might not go according to plan, but as long as you’re enjoying and spending time with family and friends you’re bound to have a good time.
Taking the time to plan ahead and make dishes, desserts and sides in advance can make Thanksgiving a less stressful and more enjoyable holiday, especially for hosts. We at Williams and McDaniel Property Management hope we have helped make your holiday gathering that make easier and look forward to providing you with an exceptional rental experience.