5 Tips for a More Organized Thanksgiving

We all know what November means . . . Thanksgiving!

In the next two weeks, we’ll focus on food and recipes (next week, we’ve got no-oven side dishes and the week after, we’ll be offering ideas on what to do with your leftover turkey). Today however, we wanted to offer our 5 tips for making your Thanksgiving a little bit more organized whether you’re hosting or lucky enough to just feast as a guest.

1. make a timeline

If you’re a host, make a timeline to go with your menu. There are lots of dishes and lots of things to do, so the best way to manage it all is to . . . spreadsheet it (if you’ve been in our community for awhile, you know that we LOVE spreadsheets).

We’ve created a little planner for you to use where you can organize tasks by dish or by kitchen helper. You can download the Excel version here or the Mac Numbers version here. There’s even a field to note the corresponding serving container for each dish.

2. clean out the fridge

If you’re hosting, clean out your fridge before your first big grocery shopping trip. You’re gonna need a lot of space, and this is a great time to discover and toss out those take-out containers that have been lurking in the dark corners of your fridge.

If you really hate fridge cleaning and can afford to outsource this task, do it. See if TaskRabbit is available in your area or put up an ad on Craigslist. It can really save a lot of time, and when minutes are so precious during Thanksgiving countdown, it really is worth it!

3. enlist sous chefs to help

If you’re hosting, gather the tools needed to create more prep stations. Just because you’re hosting doesn’t mean you should feel the pressure to prep everything on your own. Enlist some sous chefs and have them help with some of the chopping (ideally a day or two ahead). If you don’t have extra knives, borrow from those who will be traveling out of town for the holiday.

To create extra prep stations, pick up a pack of these plastic cutting boards. Fold a kitchen towel in half and place the plastic cutting board on top – this makes a great substitute for a real cutting board.

4. don’t get a last-minute gift

If you’re a guest, order or pick up your host / hostess gift now. If you’re not the best at thinking of gift ideas, then leaving it until the last minute will only increase the stress. Clearly, gifts should be personalized for the host, but here are a few ideas that are more creative than a bottle of wine (which really is always a great choice):

  • A box of chocolates from a local chocolatier
  • A restaurant gift certificate
  • Some fun tea towels (as avid cooks, we can always use more towels)
  • Or really the best gift of all – offer to be the official photographer for the night and then frame the best one later. So often hosts end up so busy all evening long and don’t have any memento of all their hard work.

5. bring a dish that doesn’t involve the oven

If you’re a guest, offer to bring a dish that does not involve the oven. The oven is in high demand for a Thanksgiving feast, so make your host’s life easier by not showing up with a dish that needs to occupy it. An easy offering: a cheese and fruit spread that can be served as an appetizer. Or make one (or more!) of our no-oven side dishes that we’ll be sharing next week.

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