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Get organized for a low-stress Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner can be a wonderful time to celebrate with friends and family, but being the one to host it all can be incredibly stressful. From planning the meal, to cooking the big bird, to storing dozens of different side dishes in your space-challenged refrigerator, there’s a lot to keep in mind.

Use these 8 helpful organizing tips to reduce your stress about cooking Thanksgiving dinner this November.

crescent rolls

  1.    Plan your menu now. It’s not too early to plan your family’s Thanksgiving menu. Gather all the recipes you want to make and create a master grocery list. Divide your list of ingredients into perishable and non-perishable items. To spread out grocery costs, start buying non-perishable items in early November.
  2.    Try new recipes ahead of time. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving morning to try making that Food Network recipe you thought looked delicious. Instead, test out any new recipes in the weeks ahead of Thanksgiving. This will give you a chance to learn the recipe and make sure it tastes good.
  3.    Take advantage of specialty stores. Pressed for time? Place an order for pre-made appetizers and desserts from your local specialty food store (Nonnahs loves Roma market in Pasadena for an amazing antipasto tray). Schedule your pickup for a day or two before Thanksgiving. If you’re ordering a bird for your Thanksgiving meal, go ahead and put that order in now too.
  4.    Clear out your refrigerator. Schedule an hour about a week before Thanksgiving to clean out your refrigerator and freezer. Toss old food and condiments. Wash the surfaces with warm water and soap. If necessary, rearrange the shelves to make room for large items like a turkey.
  5.    Create a cooking timeline. Make a plan for when each recipe will be prepared. Some items, like the turkey and gravy, must be prepared the same day. Decide what time you plan to eat dinner and then work backwards so everything will be ready to eat in time. Compare cooking temperatures to see which items can be in the oven simultaneously.
  6.    Prepare food ahead of time. Some dishes, like soups and cheesecakes, taste even better when they’ve had some time to develop flavor. Almost any kind of pie can be made a few days before it’s needed. (The problem then becomes where to hide the pie so it doesn’t get eaten!) Stuffing and cranberry sauce can also be made a day or two in advance. For dishes that must be prepared on Thanksgiving, prep the ingredients to cut down on the time you’ll spend in the kitchen.
  7.    Delegate. Involve your family members in Thanksgiving planning and preparation. If you’re having guests over for the day, ask them to each bring a side dish, dessert or beverage. It’s a great way for friends to share their favorite holiday recipes.
  8.    Set the table the night before. Pull out all the dishes, glassware and silverware you’ll need. Make sure your linens are pressed and your silver is polished. While you’re at it, set up a dessert and coffee station near the dinner table. Place forks, plates, serving utensils and coffee cups on a small table so guests will be able to easily serve themselves.

carrots in panIf you are looking for a really comprehensive Thanksgiving prep list, check out this one from Metropolitan Organizing.

What are your favorite organizing tips for a low stress Thanksgiving? Please share in the comments below.

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