Putting Together an Easy Thanksgiving Celebration

The final countdown to Thanksgiving has arrived; we’re down to just six days! This is our second Thanksgiving celebration this year as we enjoyed a feast of fine proportions last month when our Marine was home on leave. I’m very much looking forward to doing it all again and seeing my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews!

I don’t know how your plans are going, but there have been a flurry of text messages between my sisters, momma and myself as we finalize the menu and plans for Thursday. Momma has already decided we are using her Blue Willow on the table which is by far her favorite china.

We seem to stress too much over holiday celebrations, so today I thought it would be timely to share some ideas for a gathering that’s relaxed and lively as we celebrate the end of the autumn season from harvest fruits scattered across the table to organizing your time so you enjoy the relaxed feeling Thanksgiving Day should truly have!

Putting Together an Easy Thanksgiving Celebration / ohfiddledeedee.com

THE TABLETOP:

Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest, so besides cooking with autumn’s bounty, decorate the table with it too! Lay a tablecloth or placemats out that coordinates with your dishes, then add pumpkins, leaves, dried Indian corn. Grocery store flowers really add to the festive atmosphere of the day and won’t cost you a lot of money. Round off your centerpiece with candles. Seriously, who doesn’t love candlelight?! Besides keeping the decor seasonal and simple, you can set the table (or tables) a couple of days in advance and have that knocked off your to-do list!

If you desire to use paper plates, by all means set them out! If you prefer china, use it! Here in our home I have a set of Thanksgiving china that adorns the table every year. They are mostly white and neutral in color which allows me to coordinate with my plain white dishes for serving the meal.

I plan out the dishes I need for serving in advance so I’m not rushing around Thanksgiving morning like a mad woman looking for everything. Things like gravy boats, deviled egg trays, and soup tureens aren’t everyday pieces so it helps to be organized.

GETTING READY:

Having a perfectly prepped dinner allows you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your family. Six days out should see your menu completed, grocery list made and a trip to the store imminent. If you don’t want to find yourself in a madhouse or unable to find ingredients, head to the market as soon as possible.

*Make a list. Seriously, sit down with a note pad to write your menu, who is bringing what, your grocery list, and what must be done around the house. It takes 30 minutes. Make the lists and put them where you see them.

{Then, use them.}

*Allow plenty of time for your turkey to safely thaw out. I have a 20 pound bird that will land in my refrigerator tonight to begin thawing.

*Most pies can be baked a couple of days in advance so take advantage of that; it takes a couple hours to prepare bourbon pecan and pumpkin pies. Having them out of the way is a huge help come Thanksgiving Day.

*If you are ordering any part of your dinner (Honeybaked Ham is my friend), order at least two weeks ahead of time and pick up early the day before so that you miss the heaviest of crowds.

*Have all of your ingredients measured, chopped and placed in prep bowls before you begin cooking. By taking care of as much as possible beforehand, you’ll leave plenty of time to visit with family and friends.

*Prepare a soup a day in advance or put together a fruit and cheese board for everyone to snack on while the turkey is in the oven.

*Offer a range of beverages to compliment the meal. Besides tea and soda, consider serving a spiced cider or flavored tea.

*On Thanksgiving Day plan to start cooking early – your turkey needs 3-4 hours (maybe more) in the oven, plus an additional half hour to rest before carving. If you are using stuffing in your bird, cook it before the turkey so that the bird has time to cook.

It doesn’t take much to put on a memorable Thanksgiving dinner. Just don’t let the little things stress you out. Taking a couple of evenings beforehand to knock out prep will make the day so much easier, and I hope I’ve given you some ideas to get you started!

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