I think Melanie and I are the only two people in the free world talking about Thanksgiving. Christmas will have its turn, but not until after Thanksgiving and Advent.
Hold Your Horses, ‘Merica!
Here are my master plans for the next 9 days, so that when my company gets here, I can convalesce by the fire, drinking lots of lattes and visiting with all of my favorite peeps.
5 things that will make your Thanksgiving weekend more enjoyable:
1. Give thanks.
Don’t forget that this is the season of intentional gratefulness. I sometimes have to stop myself in my busy tracks and say thank you. Cup your hands around the faces of your people, look them right in their eyes and say thank you. A little smooch wouldn’t hurt anything either. We take SO much for granted. Stop and pay attention. Notice the smell of the pumpkin pie, the way light glistens off your pretty wine glasses, the color of the landscape, as it makes ready for winter.
As my way of saying THANK YOU! for meeting me here all these years, I’m giving my Hospitality E-book away today on my Facebook page! Just like the page and leave a comment with your email address and I’ll be happy to send this small token of my appreciation for all your love and support. It is jam-packed with tips for making your home and heart ready for guests.
2. Make a Menu
Here’s mine, in case you want ideas. I LOVE printing my menus out and placing one at each table setting, but at least print one out for yourself and keep it in your planner/notebook.
- Turkey with Sage Stuffing
- Chive Mashed Potatoes
- Giblet Gravy
- Maple Glazed Brussel Sprouts
- Broccoli Casserole
- Baked Sweet Potato Bake
- Creamed Corn
- Bedeviled Eggs
- Cranberry Apple Relish
- Parker House Rolls
- Tart Cherry Pie
- Pumpkin Pie with Brandy Cream
- Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Pie
- Chocolate Fudge Pie
- Red Velvet Cake
- Salted Caramel Lattes
3. Start NOW!
Here’s my list for how I will (hopefully) get all my food made (for 35 people) and get my house ready for weekend company! I realize not everyone hosts this many people, but this might help you see how I break down the large job into small doable pieces. And there’s a lot of wine and fudge involved. That always helps.
Tuesday (the week before)
- Bake pumpkin muffins and put in freezer (to serve for breakfast next week)
- Wash sheets on the guest room beds.
- Brainstorm on Pinterest for table top and guest room ideas
Wednesday (the week before)
- Bake a quiche lorraine for next weekend and freeze
- Finish the guest room beds
- Bake cherry and pumpkin pies and freeze (recipes coming this week!)
Thursday (the week before)
- Clean downstairs bathrooms
- Clean guest rooms
- Clean and reorganize the baking center (full post on the baking center in my e-book, so head over the FB page and get a free copy!)
- Big grocery shopping day (lots of baking supplies are on sale, so stock up!)
- Stock up on candles (my favorite fall/winter candle but I love this one and this one, too) diffusers, Mrs. Meyer clove countertop spray,
- Make broccoli casserole, bake about 1/2 time and then freeze
- MakeGrannie’s fudge and freeze
- Set up the bar cart for the adults and the Hot Cocoa center for the kids
- Get out all the linens and sort out how the tables will be set up (all mine will be mix-match)
- Make blueberry muffins and freeze
- Make toffee chocolate chip cookies and freeze
- Clean living room top to bottom
- Work on name cards
- Wash all the glassware and plates (the ones not used very often)
- Rest and read Radical Hospitality (again!). Pray by name for everyone who is coming
- Work on menus and place cards (I love the fox cards Emily made and you can print them for free!)
- Print out the Thanksgiving Litany (10 copies) (I’m still working on the link!)
- Outdoor scavenger hunt to find pinecones, acorns, driftwood, pretty branches, berries, etc
- Bake pecan bourbon chocolate pie
- Brew a batch of iced coffee
- Make olive salsa and my favorite cheese ball of all time (company arrives on Tuesday!)
- Check on votive candles (Are there enough for each place setting? Enough tea lights?
- Clean kitchen and bedroom
- Bake sweet potatoes and refrigerate them as is until Thursday
- Make the cranberry apple relish
- Cook potatoes and refrigerate. Finish them on Thursday
- Make pizza bianca and modified shrimp boil for dinner (I don’t add corn, but the rest is pretty much the same)(serving 10?)
- Bake toffee chocolate chip cookies (recipe coming!)
- Add greenery/finishing touches to the guest spaces
- Make chocolate fudge pie and freeze
- Take out pumpkin muffins from freezer for breakfast tomorrow
- Buy 2 13-15 pound turkeys and one turkey breast
- Refill the small salt/pepper shakers for the tables
- Make the Parker House Rolls. They’re SO good and well worth all the butter and effort.
- If turkeys aren’t completely thawed, put in salt water brine
- Remove the broccoli casserole from freezer to frig.
- Roast the brussel sprouts and then refrigerate until tomorrow. Finish cooking with bacon fat and then drizzle with maple syrup and cook another min or two
- Bake the Thanksgiving cake (I’m still waffling at this point, but I’m thinking red velvet or mocha)
- Set the tables after dinner (I like to set my tables earlier, but we’ll have company and need to use them)
- Make the sage stuffing, so that it’s ready to be stuffed in the bird early in the morning
- Put turkey breast in the crockpot overnight (This is my favorite way to have some extra turkey and a LOT of turkey stock. You don’t need to do ANYTHING to it, just remove the giblets and cook on low overnight, until it falls apart, which is usually about lunch time!)
- Take out all the pies to thaw
- Stuff the turkey, brush with butter and put in a covered roaster. Start at 300 degrees and cook for 3 hours, then decrease to 250. For a 14 pound bird, at that low temp, I usually cook it for 10 hours, until it’s tender and falling off the bone. (Stevie also smokes a turkey, but I leave that all up to him!)
- Take out all casseroles and finish them, finish the potatoes
- About lunch time, take out the appetizers and champagne spritzers as a treat for all the helpers (we don’t eat until evening)
- Delegate the drink stations and salted caramel latte prep to the young adults
- Start the Thanksgiving music (I make a playlist from my favorites—the Avett Brothers, the Civil Wars, the Decemberists, Noah Gundersen, etc)
- Finish the brussel sprouts
- Don’t forget the cranberry relish
- Make the creamed corn
- Set out plenty of butter to soften/put on each table
- Double check the tablescapes, fill the water glasses and light the candles
- Read the Litany aloud, pray, and FEAST!!
4. Enjoy the day
Things will go wrong. You’ll forget to take the pumpkin pie out of the freezer, the mash potatoes will be runny (happened to me last year), the bread will burn, and a million other things will threaten to steal your joy. DON’T let it. This is a celebration of the people that you love. Enjoy them! Make eye contact and hug and laugh. The food, the decorations, the tables are all secondary and must take a back seat. Take a deep breath, have a glass of wine, relax, and love on your people.
Also? Make your siblings wash the dishes. Amen.
5. Enjoy the day after
The day after may be my favorite day. Eating leftovers, sitting by the fireplace enjoying my family, beating twenty-somethings in Scrabble. I think we should reclaim Black Friday and call it I’m Staying in My Jammies and Eating Leftovers and Knitting Dishcloths Friday.
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