Yes, it’s wonderful to gather the family together and celebrate with a traditional meal. It’s also nice to do less of the traditional work involved! Now’s the time for a few tips and tricks that will make Thanksgiving day easier.
Book It for Next Year
It seems everyone’s holiday advice starts with “plan ahead and make a list.” However, Thanksgiving usually features the same menu, with the same associated tasks, each year. The hardest part is finding extra time to sit down and make a list! So keep a Thanksgiving notebook – one list you can keep using every year. It can be ready to go, with grocery lists, recipes and anything you want to remember. After each Thanksgiving, you can make a few notes about what worked that year. And in the process you have a holiday memory book you can hand down to the kids.
Don’t Take Out the Iron
Ironing the special Thanksgiving tablecloth and napkins when they come out of storage once a year is a time consuming item on the to-do list. This year, spread the tablecloth out on the table, spritz lightly with water, smooth out the wrinkles with your hands, and let sit overnight. No ironing! (If you have a wooden table, temporarily place another tablecloth under the Thanksgiving one.) For de-wrinkling the napkins, place them in the dryer with a slightly damp hand-towel. Let them run for a few minutes on low, and the job’s done.
Harvest Your Table Décor
For an easy centerpiece, arrange fresh apples, fresh pears and whole walnuts in a large glass bowl. Tuck in a few fall leaves or greenery. Stand back and admire. For matching place cards, use an apple or pear for each place, choosing ones that have stems and will stand up straight. Write names on stringed gift tags and tie to the stems. They’re naturally beautiful, and all the fruit can be used afterward, so there’s no waste.
Employ Eco-Friendly Dinnerware
If you have a big crowd attending, the dishes can pile up – literally! Environmentally friendly disposable plates and bowls are now widely available, and they’re surprisingly affordable. Made of bagasse (sugar cane stalks), bamboo or palm leaves, they’re biodegradable, compostable and completely waste-free. And they do look nice…they’re even used for eco-friendly weddings!
Serve from a Sideboard
Extra serving bowls add to the dishwashing count, and many need to be hand washed. You can cut down on the bowls needed and also save room on the crowded table by placing baked items on a sideboard right in their casserole dishes. The food will stay warmer longer, too. Fold towels under the sideboard tablecloth to serve as generous hot pads.
Skip the Fancy Appetizers
It’s tempting to wow your guests with trays of tasty hors d’oeuvres…but you’re about to have one of the biggest dinners of the year. It’s ok to save the work and keep the nibbles simple – concentrate on the main event!
Make It Ahead, But Keep It Hot
Yes, “make ahead” is the mantra for holiday cooking. But how do you keep everything warm and ready to go at the right time? There’s only so much room in the oven. Mashed potatoes and vegetables can be made early and then kept warm in crockpots until serving time. They’ll taste better and be warm all the way through; a microwave often heats unevenly. And for made-ahead gravy? Surprise – a thermos is a great solution for keeping it hot.