Planning ahead and getting organized can go a long way toward a stress-free Thanksgiving. It won’t help with your weird Uncle Neal who thinks it’s funny to take his false teeth out to scare the kids, or your sister-in-law who is allergic to everything but tofu, but it might give you the stamina and grace to negotiate THOSE things if you don’t have a million other things to worry about!
If you are hosting there are a few things to sort through now so you don’t get caught scrambling the day before.
Get your kitchen organized
This simple organization tool made my kitchen SO much more efficient to cook in! A vertical spice rack – how awesome is that? I spent YEARS with baskets of spice jars to paw through every time I needed something, or a lazy susan that got crowded so the jars fell off and disappeared in the bowels of the cabinet. This fits in the shallower depth of an upper cabinet, holds typical grocery store spice jars so you don’t have to transfer them to new containers like some spice racks require, and comes in several variations of height and width! Here it is in my own kitchen…and there is space to add another one or store something else beside it. And yes, those are my ugly honey oak cabinets that I still need to paint…
I’ve also ditched my unwieldy collection of varied storage containers for these two types: Deli containers that stack beautifully and all take the same size lids, and these bento box containers that stack nicely and work for great leftover storage or doggie bags for your dinner guests. I now have over 60 containers that all fit in one cabinet drawer with room to spare!
Plan your menu early
This one should be easy, since it’s the same every year in most families! Here is our Thanksgiving menu. But planning ahead means you can plan for any new recipes you want to try and how you are going to serve them.
If you are looking for a new recipe to try, I heartily recommend this Cranberry Sauce recipe…if you think you don’t like cranberry sauce because you have only had that gelatinous stuff that comes out of a can, this will change your mind! It is quick and easy to make and stores well for a long time in the fridge so it can be made well in advance.
Apricot-Pecan Cranberry Sauce
1 lb fresh cranberries
½ C port
½ C orange juice
½ C light brown sugar
¾ C granulated sugar
1 C diced dried apricots (I order these from Nuts Online)
¾ C pecan pieces, toasted
Cook all ingredients except pecans in a saucepan over med-hi heat 20-30 min. Cool, add toasted pecans. Store in fridge until it is gone!
See? SO easy AND SO delicious!
If you need to purchase new serving dishes, I recommend going toward a collection that is a neutral color rather than holiday specific unless you have unlimited storage space! White serving pieces will all mix well with each other and with any china or dishware, and they are available at all price levels. This post has some tips on what entertaining essentials to stock.
Here are some versatile serving pieces. I know the pumpkin tureen is seasonal, but it would work for all of fall at least, and it is so darn adorable! Click on the images for more information.
Plan ahead for everything you need to set a beautiful table
Table linens can be layered with a neutral tablecloth topped with colorful or patterned runners or a square cloth (or cloths of your table is really long) draped diagonally.
Charger plates under each place setting instantly upgrade the table. (click on the image below for more information)
Enough silverware – PLEASE don’t default to plastic. Beg, borrow or buy enough flatware for all your guests…short of that ask everyone to bring their own, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE no plastic. Paper napkins, while not my favorite, are tolerable, especially if you buy these that are heavyweight and almost feel like cloth, but plastic knives and forks were never intended to cut meat. Just say NO to plastic silverware..
If you are doing a centerpiece, arrange it on a tray or in a container that can be moved if you are serving family style and need to make way for food. And if you anticipate being able to leave it on the table, make sure your guests can see each other over it! This post has some ideas and ground rules for successful centerpieces.
Figure out how many chairs you need to seat your guests ahead of time so you can buy or borrow any additional seating necessary. You may wish to invest in some pretty folding chairs if you need additional seating more often than once a year. Here are a few options…click on the pictures for more information. The blue one comes in several other colors and the white one comes in a wood finish as well.
Here are some more inspirational dining room images:
I could happily move right into this French paneled dining room - and that tablecloth with the banded scalloped edge…swoonworthy!
This grand green dining room in New Orleans is by Alexa Hampton. This table is set with linen placemats rather than a tablecloth, and stunning gold and green china and crystal. The green charger plates set off the white and gold rim of the china perfectly.
If you want to know what to do with your dining room the OTHER 364 days a year that you don’t use it, HERE are some ideas.
Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving Season!
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