This year I am having a very different holiday experience. I am cooking for a lot of people which is normal, but I am sharing the events and experience of Thanksgiving with my family from overseas. This will be the first time they actually get to eat my turkey they read about on Facebook every year. So much pressure! But I like it!
I am a worrier and always want everything to go perfect. But that really doesn’t happen does it?
Enter my survival tips.
Shop. Early. Get all ingredients into the house and reserve last minute trips for the vanilla extract or baking soda to the Husband. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you can, plan to take the day/evening before Thanksgiving to cook all desserts. Chilled will be chilled and pies and things can warm up in the oven while we eat dinner.
Take time for the Macy’s Day Parade. My favorite since childhood. It’s not Thanksgiving or Christmas if I don’t see the mile high kicks from the Rockettes along with all of the school marching bands that get to participate and play. The floats and balloons are great too of course. But the most important, is that moment when Santa comes on the screen. And he’s waiving to you. Yes you! And all of the other good boys and girls of the world. My friends, this moment is the official Thanksgiving meets Christmas peak. THE moment it all stops and the Children’s eyes sparkle with wonder and mine sparkle with happy tears. Every single year. No matter what is cooking, all burners are turned off. All chaos in the house can continue on around me, but I will take my moment and I will greet Santa back with an excited wave of my own. It’s magical. It makes me happy.
Back to cooking. Plan your cooking order ahead of time. What can easily be pre-made and heated up for the dinner later? What tastes better fresh? I’ll make many of my casseroles first. In my opinion, casserole only gets better with time. I also have insulated reusable grocery bags I will store the hot dishes in once they come out of the oven. They can stay a very good and warm temperature for a couple of hours easily.
Mr. Turkey, being the star of the show will set the remaining schedule for the day. We plan to eat around 6pm so I will get whatever I can pre-cooked, pre-mixed, pre-chopped, or pre measured. I think the more prep work I put in for the later cooking the better off I am as I become more tired throughout the day. Lots of yoga stretches help the aching back, feet and legs as well.
When you’re cooking you get a lot of offers to assist. A lot of people will ask you what dish they can cook or bring. As much as you want everything to be to your own perfect standards, I cannot emphasize enough, let them. Let people chop your vegetables. Let someone make a new version of a casserole as a side dish. It might be a success, it might not, but it will always be a great experience. Holidays like Thanksgiving, to me, are all about the family time.
Finally, time to eat. Did someone volunteer to set the table for you? As long as everyone got a plate and a utensil to eat with, it was a success. Time to present Mr. Turkey, share in the bounty of the hard work, talk about what you are thankful for and enjoy the company of everyone surrounding you. And maybe a little wine if you choose. You’ve earned it.
I haven’t mentioned shopping yet. To each is own whether you shop on Thanksgiving or not. No judgement from me. But my belly is too full to go out that night. Over pie and coffee, I will get my battle plan together for the 4a.m. shopping adventure. Does anyone have a survival guide for that?
What skills for survival do you have for Thanksgiving?
Written by About a Mom contributor, Sarah. Sarah is 34, married to her true prince, and a loving Aunt to 3 amazing kiddos 2, 4, and 6. Her days are spent with family and friends, traveling, cooking, her pets, or gardening. There’s also the occasional sci-fi celebration that brightens her life.
Cynthia R says
We don’t bother setting up the table, we just do buffet style, everyone grab a plate. Also we each bring different dishes so no one gets stuck with all the cooking.