November 22, 2010

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving, Part 4

Season and Holiday Stencil - ThanksgivingIf you have been reading my blog, you have read the other parts of this series, Getting Ready for Thanksgiving Part 1 , Part 2 and Part 3. I hope that these tips and ideas have helped you get prepared and organized for Thanksgiving and to save a bit of money, too.  For some other money saving ideas, check out my post Ways to Save on Thanksgiving.

Below are some ideas for this week’s preparations.  Since this is the big week, I’ve also made some notes about the day of Thanksgiving.  Keep in mind that everyone’s holiday experience is different.  Do what works for you and your family!  Don’t worry about what Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray would have on their holiday table—do what you think will be memorable and important to your family.  Don’t stress about the rest.

For example, Thanksgivings are usually spent with my husband’s family.  We travel, visit with relatives, play games, dote on the kiddos, dine on one of the most delicious meals of the year, and tell stories until late at night.  This year, it will be a bit more low key.  Because I’m still recovering from surgery and unable to travel, we’ll be staying home.  My sister is coming into town with her family, and she and my dad will cook most of the meal.  While unable to help much this week, these last few weeks of posts have allowed me contribute to the prep work of the meal.  I’ve planned a few crafts for the kids, chopped the veggies for the stuffing, shopped the sales, cleaned the house (before surgery), and have helped my dad to get his place “guest ready”. 

This year I’m very thankful.  I’m grateful for having people in my life who care about me.  I’m grateful for the health of myself and members of our family.  I’m grateful for our home, our country, our church, and our freedom.  I’m grateful for all of you who drop in each day, who write comments and send me emails, who encourage me and say that they have been encouraged by me—you all make my days a little brighter, and I thank God for each of you!

Now to the tips for this week:

  • Pull out your planning notebook and review what you’ve accomplished thus far.  Look at how much you’ve accomplished and give yourself a pat on the back for your efforts!  Give yourself a break and take a few things off of the list that you don’t think you’ll have time for.  If in doubt, ask, “Is this going to matter in the grand scheme of things?  Will anyone else notice?  Is it restoring or draining of my energy?”
  • Continue to incorporate the theme of Thanksgiving into your homeschooling, Bible study, story and craft time with your children.  We’ve really enjoyed making it a part of our story time.  I think I’ve learned almost as much as she has!
  • Continue to take a little time for yourself each week.  This is the season when people tend to put on a few pounds.  Make a preemptive strike by exercising, drinking more water, watching what you eat, and adding in more fruits and vegetables.  (Before starting any exercise routine, check with your healthcare provider first).  Take time each day for prayer and meditation.  Spend time in  your garden if that is restorative.  I found that the walks that I took in the park with a few friends really helped with my stress level.  Once I’m cleared by the doc, I want to get back to walking and yoga.
  • Prep casseroles and dishes as needed.  The day of Thanksgiving you want to mainly focus on warming the foods, cooking the turkey, and making the gravy—not cooking or prepping much else.  One catering trick is to cook the casserole about 2/3 the way through.  Cool and chill in the fridge.  The day of when you are warming the casserole it will cook the rest of the way without becoming dry or tough.
  • Chill wine and other drinks.  My Grandma-in-law always has a fridge full of sodas as a special treat for all of the guests.  If you are serving a white wine or sparkling juice as part of the meal, pop it into the fridge.
  • If you are making cranberry sauce from scratch, now is the time to do it.  If using canned, jazz it up with a bit of orange zest.
  • If you are making dessert from scratch, whip it up.  If buying from a bakery, make sure you order ahead of time if you haven’t already.
  • Defrost your turkey.  You don’t want for it to be frozen in the middle when you go to bake it on Thursday.

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A day or two before Thanksgiving:

  • Set the table if you haven’t already.  If you are concerned about dust, cover it with another tablecloth.
  • Make a flower arrangement.  A few pinecones in a basket will do in a pinch.  If you have any nandina in your garden, it makes a nice centerpiece.  Above is a very simple arrangement that is perfect for either Thanksgiving or Christmas to use as an example.  I used a pyrex container, a piece of burlap, some clementines, pinecones, nandina, holly, magnolia leaves, and evergreen branches.  Super simple and, except for the clementines, free!
  • Set out the Tupperware, zip top bags, aluminum foil and plastic wrap.  It will make wrapping up leftovers so much easier.

Thanksgiving Day:

  • Make tea if you are serving it.
  • Wear your apron to avoid getting stains on your outfit.
  • Set up the coffeepot to brew for dessert.
  • Roast or fry the turkey, make the gravy, warm the casseroles, brown the rolls.
  • Unload the dishwasher so that your dishes can go straight in to wash after you eat.
  • Freshen up.  Windex is your best friend when you want things to look fresh and tidy and don’t have time to really clean a lot.  Shine the sinks and faucets, and you’ll be amazed at how much better things look.
  • Freshen up yourself.  If the hostess isn’t happy, no one is.  Take a few minutes to freshen up your makeup (if you wear it), put on a clean outfit, and run a brush through your hair.
  • Get the camera ready, put on the music, and welcome your guests.  Don’t forget to let them help if they ask what they can do.  People like being useful.  Have them pour drinks, entertain the kids, put the foods on the table, or just visit with you while you finish your prep work.

Above all else, have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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