Preparing Your Home For Thanksgiving: The Third Stage

When the day finally arrives, you’ll be racing around trying to get everything done in time. With so much to do, you wouldn’t want to forget anything.

The best way to keep track of what you need to do is to make a list. When it comes to cooking the food, it would be easier to make some sort of time chart.

Figure out how long each item on the menu will take to cook and try to make your best guess of how long it will take you to prepare it for the oven. You can do some of the prep work first thing in the morning or the night before to save time. Write down the time you will have to start each dish in order to have it ready on time for dinner. Your times may vary if you have a way to keep the dishes warm until the meal. Keep the time chart on hand during the day so you don’t fall behind. You could even set an alarm on your cell phone to remind you when to start each dish.

There are a few other things to do besides the meal, including touch-up cleaning, before your guests arrive. If you have help, decide on a job for each person. I made a check list in case you are worried you might forget.

-sweep the porch
-make sure no toys, shoes etc. have been left out from the night before
-fluff and straighten out any pillows on the couch
-take out the garbage(check every bin)
-put out your guest towels
-do a quick once over with the vacuum
-double check that the toilets and sinks are still clean
-spot mop any floors that need it
-empty the cat litter pan if you have one
-spray an air freshener or fabric refresher any where it’s needed
-make ice
-put wine in the fridge the night before or first thing in the morning

You may want to keep a broom and dust pan handy so you can clean up any messes you make while cooking, without disturbing your guests.

If you have pets, don’t forget about them! Make sure you take the dog out before your guests arrive so he’s not waiting at the door while you’re trying to enjoy your dinner. If your pets are skittish, make sure they have a comfortable spot to go to get away from all the activity. If your dog tends to beg at the table while you are eating, put him in another room or put up a pet gate to block the dining area. Remember, as much as you love your pets, you want to make sure your guests are comfortable and you don’t want them to feel annoyed by your pet. You can give your dog a special treat or toy so he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out on the fun.

You’ll be pinched for time so save some of that time by trying some cooking shortcuts.

Instead of peeling and boiling potatoes whole (which can take forever), peel them the night before or early in the morning. Chop them into small pieces of similar size to save at least ten minutes on the stove. I’ve seen shortcuts telling you to boil whole potatoes first, then just wipe the skin off. This does save time on peeling (though you could peel them several hours earlier) but may take thirty minutes to boil through and won’t boil your potatoes as evenly, which may result in lumpy mashed potatoes.

Peel and chop your vegetables the night before. Put them in an airtight container so they stay fresh. This could save you another ten minutes on the day of.

Make your stuffing the day before. Just mix everything together and put it in the fridge to keep it fresh. The next day you’ll just stuff it in the turkey and pop it in the oven. This is especially helpful if you are waking up super early just to start the turkey.

Set the kitchen up the night before so you don’t have to waste time looking for pots and pans or utensils. Keep the sink filled with hot soapy water throughout the day so you can wash dishes quickly if you’ll need to reuse them.

Make sure you keep your cell phone charged and on hand throughout the day so guests can get in touch with you. It’s easy to get so busy you forget where you left your phone, but a guest may call if they get lost, are running late, or need to be picked up from the airport, train or bus station.

I hope these little reminders help you to have a stress-free holiday. Relax and try not to worry too much. Enjoy your company and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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