By Jon Cronin
The secret to a flawless Thanksgiving dinner is the inevitable factor that often ends up being the most frustrating—planning.
Below is a list of ideas and suggestions that will help grease the wheels when family and friends come to your house for the holiday.
The first thing to remember is that you should never turn down help. Whether it is your spouse, children cleaning the house or your relatives making extra side dishes, always accept the aid of others.
Secondly, get as much prep work done in the days or day before as possible. If you have a large turkey, make sure you start defrosting the morning before Thanksgiving and throw it in the oven early on the morning of the holiday. Get out your recipes a few days before and then go through the fridge, cabinets and pantry. While you’re in the fridge, clean it out. Get rid of anything old that you know you will never use. After all, you’ll need the room for all those amazing leftovers.
While you’re combing through recipes, remember to stick to the basics. You know what your family wants for Thanksgiving. Play to your culinary strengths.
Desserts and stuffing can be prepared the day before and left in the fridge. Set the table the night before.
During the day, set aside a nice bottle of red wine for yourself while you’re cooking in the kitchen. If you don’t like wine or beer, check out the Queens Tribune’s article on festive holiday cocktails. Speaking of drinks, your guests will want some as well. Get some of the coolers out of the garage, clean them out and fill them with ice. Leave them outside or in the chilly garage and let your guests help themselves.
If you’re having overnight guests, let them know the details of your Thanksgiving Day game plan. Tell them when breakfast will be ready, what time they can expect appetizers and dinner and don’t forget to give them their assignments.
Also, visits from family members with intrusive questions can be stressful. There are many available articles on how to handle family stress during the holidays and recommendations for anticipating questions and coming up with canned answers. Those same articles recommend giving yourself a time out during the day. Go outside in the fresh, chilly air for a few minutes and breathe. If you have young cousins or nieces and nephews, create an activity outside with them for 30 minutes. Running around in the late fall air will get your blood pumping and decrease stress.
If there is arguing around the table, don’t forget to hug everyone before they leave—because in less than four weeks, it’s Christmas and Hanukkah and you’re going to do it all over again.