We have reached that time of the year again that is all about getting together with family and sitting down to big, elaborate meals. And while we are supposed to be happy and celebrating, many people are simply thankful to get through the holidays in one piece. Why must the holidays be so stressful? Good news, they don’t have to be! Want to know the easiest way to bypass the stress: have a plan. Simple right? Not exactly, but it’s amazing how much a thorough plan can transform your holiday season. With Thanksgiving being only a week away, let’s go through the next week; breaking up preparation tasks to make it all feel less daunting.
The Week Before
Collect your recipes and create a shopping list.
Still don’t know exactly what you’re making for the big feast? Time to get that sorted. Go through as many recipes as it takes, but remember, not every dish needs to be fancy and complicated. Sometimes the simplest option is the best.
Clean out your refrigerator.
Figure out what needs to get eaten over the next week to create as much storage in your fridge as possible. Are there items that can get used in some of your recipes? Are there things that simply need to get tossed? Keep in mind that you will want to maximize the amount of storage containers you have on hand. This will make life much easier as you move the through the week.
Dedicate this last weekend to preparations.
This is your time to do the shopping. Hit the market early, and give yourself plenty of time to shop. Chances are you have a big list, and it’s no fun trying to get everything in your basket while racing the clock. And while you are out, consider picking up extra storage containers that you can fill with leftovers and send home with guests.
Clean the house.
If you are hosting, you will want your home to sparkle and shine for guests coming to visit. Take the time to do a thorough clean this weekend, and prepare spare rooms with clean linens and supplies. It’s easy to do some touch up cleaning right before everyone shows up, but doing most of the chores now will save on time and stress later in the week. Even if you are going away for the holidays, having a clean house to come home to is a nice treat after a busy weekend.
Make the big stuff.
There is plenty of food that can be cooked and assembled ahead of time, and the weekend is perfect for scratching the most time consuming of these off your list. For starters, make your pie crusts. Even if you make the filling later, having a crust ready to go is a huge relief. Pre-cook it and put it in the freezer until the night before. And if you want, cook the whole pie on Wednesday night so all you have to do is reheat on Thursday. Other great options for making ahead are the cranberry sauce, toasted nuts, stock for stuffing and casseroles. Also, if you are making your own bread for the stuffing, doing that over the weekend gives it plenty of time to dry out over the coming days.
The Final Week
Less is more.
The less you have to take care of on the last few days before Thanksgiving the happier you will be on the day itself. For those of us with full time jobs, this is especially true. Still, taking care of a few small things will allow you more time to relax and visit with family on the big day. So, on the days leading up, after dinner of course, go ahead and pre-chop those vegetables that you will need for your side dishes. Take your turkey out of the freezer and get the brine on it a couple of days. Do a little extra tidying around the house and put some extra seasonal décor. Find a clear, designated area for drinks and appetizers, then set the dining room table for your guests (eating on the couch for a night or two is perfectly acceptable).
All of this may seem like a lot to accomplish in the last week, but if you do it, you will thank yourself later. Thanksgiving is not about spending your whole day slaving away in the kitchen; it’s about having time to spend with the people you love. So plan ahead, stop stressing, and be thankful to have so many people who want to spend the day with you.