Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving Ideas’

Here is a wild and crazy party idea…. have a Turkey Day Test Run Party!

You know there are several dishes you’d like to try before Thanksgiving. Like that new stuffing recipe or the new pie your friend has been raving about.

Plan a casual buffet party, making all the dishes you want to try out, invite over a few friends and have a taste test to see which ones get a thumbs up and which ones get a thumbs down.

By serving the food buffet style, you can keep things simple with an overlying theme of just getting together and having fun.

You can have ballot slips for each guest to fill out, rating each dish. You could even give a few prizes for “most creative descriptions” or “most valuable tester.” Keep the prizes simple like a fall-scented votive candle or a boxed single truffle.

The main idea is to get together with friends while trying out some new recipes. I think you’ll have a good time if you give it a try!

She Who Needs to Plan a Test Run Party

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Countdown To Thanksgiving Tips

Before we know it, Turkey Day will be here. Get ahead of the game by getting organized now. Below you’ll find tips for the following weeks, leading right up to Thanksgiving Day! Hope they give you some good ideas!

First Week of November

• Plan your menu in detail.

• Finalize your guest list and issue invitations.

• Prepare and bake freezable cakes, pies, cookies, and/or rolls. Tightly wrap all unfrosted baked goods in plastic wrap and freezer bags, then store in the freezer. Think about what a great idea this is. You will have your desserts prepared well in advance and, should you have guests drop by unexpectedly, you’ll have something you can thaw out on a moment’s notice.

Two Weeks Out
• Get an accurate head count from those planning to attend. This helps you know how many seats you need, if you need to set up an extra table (or borrow an extra table).

• Finalize menu details including everything from beverages and appetizers, right on through salads, entrées and side dishes, as well as  desserts, and any after-dinner drinks. Choose a good mix of dishes and make sure some of them may be made somewhere besides in the oven (stovetop, microwave, slow-cooker). If you are buying large pieces of frozen meat (like your turkey) purchase now and store in the freezer.

• If any of your guests offer to bring a dish, let them. Find out exactly what they are bringing and adjust your menu accordingly.

• Make your first run to the grocery store for items that are non-perishable (stock up on paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, resealable bags, chicken stock, canned goods, flour, sugar, etc.)
One Week  To Go
• Anything that can be prepared a week in advance, take care of it now.

• Make a second trip to the store to get items that you’ll be using in the next week (think eggs, cranberries, etc.)

• Decide if you will b e serving the meal buffet or family style, where everyone will sit, what table linens you will use, what decorations and centerpieces you need, what serving pieces you need, if you have enough plates, glasses, eating utensils. If not, figure out what you are going to do to make things work (borrow, rent, purchase pieces).
Three Days Ahead of Time
• Remove meat (such as turkey) from the freezer and begin thawing  in the refrigerator (follow package directions).

• Clean all your serving pieces and place them on the table with sticky notes marking what will be served in each dish.

• Clean out the refrigerator so there is plenty of room for all the groceries and all dishes you will need to store on the big day.

• Start cleaning outside the house near the front door area. Make sure your welcome starts there with a clean and inviting entry.
Two Days Ahead of Time
• Prepare any dishes that can be made a few days ahead of time.

• Gather all plates, silverware, glasses, pitchers, that you will need and make sure it is all washed, polished and ready to go.

• Make a final run to the grocery store. Get your fresh produce, dairy products, extra eggs and bread and anything else you are going to need.


The Day Before
• Remove all baked goods from the freezer. If they need garnished or frosted, do that now..
• Prepare any baked goods you couldn’t make ahead. Any dishes that can be assembled and left overnight in the fridge (like casseroles) can be taken care of now.
• Do whatever prep work you can now like washing and peeling carrots, prepping celery, etc.

• Make your game plan for the following day. Decide what needs done first in the morning, what tasks family members can assist with,what time you want the food on the table, etc.

• Finish cleaning the house. Make sure the entry, the guest bath, kitchen and the area where you will be eating are extra clean. Empty all the garbage cans. Place candles in strategic areas (use all the same scent family) and ready to be lit. Set the table, place the centerpieces and go soak your feet!

Turkey Day
• Make sure the meat is in the oven with time to spare. You want to factor in time for the meat to “rest” before it is carved.

• Do as much prep work as possible on side dishes, such as assembling salads and relish trays, before guests begin arriving. Many dishes, such as mashed potatoes, can be completed a little early and kept warm until you’re ready to serve dinner.

• Assign family members duties for the day. Younger children can be door greeters and coat takers. Make sure you have a dedicated area for coats and handbags. Older children can pass appetizers and beverages to guests as they arrive. Give someone the duty of quickly running the broom down the front walk, lighting candles and making sure the guest bathroom is spotless.

• Take a deep breath, smile, relax and enjoy this day of giving thanks and blessings!

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If you are the lucky one hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this year, there are some simple things you can do to make your guests feel even more welcome in your home.

Start the welcome at your front door. Hang a seasonal wreath or swag. If you don’t have one, have your youngsters gather big leaves, tie the stems with a ribbon and hang on the door. You can also have your budding artists draw or paint a welcome sign that can be hung outside.

Let a welcoming scent greet your guests as they step inside. Have a candle burning in the entry, or at the least, have a scented wall plug-in. Think about scents that go with the season such as pumpkin, cinnamon or apple.

Clean out your coat closet or, if you don’t have one, make sure there is a designated area for coats. Enlist some youngsters to be the official door greeters and coat takers. It makes them feel important, keeps them occupied and frees up your time for more important tasks.

If you are serving food buffet style, make sure you add in plenty of height, color and texture to your table. Put down a base cloth, strategically place boxes, books or other sturdy items to provide height, then artistically drape another cloth on top. Make sure your centerpiece is the highest point on the table and place it off center. Your centerpiece can be something as simple as a hurricane with a candle and pinecones, a basket of leaves or nuts or a bouquet of seasonal flowers. If you have hot dishes that need to stay warm, heat bricks in the oven. Make sure you put a pot holder under the bricks so you don’t damage your table surface. You can drape a second cloth over the bricks to hide them. Aluminum or plastic pans filled with ice, and draped with a cloth, work well to keep cold foods cold. Use the colors of the season in your serving pieces or mix and match pieces in all one color – such as white or cream.

If you are serving a plated meal or everyone will be seated at the table, have children create fun place cards for each guest. When you are selecting a centerpiece, make sure it is low enough that everyone can see over the top of it. For a casual country look, use a piece of barn wood (that has been cleaned) down the length of the table and put a mixture of candles, nuts and pears or apples on it. For a more formal atmosphere, think about taper candles combined with seasonal flowers or even stalks of wheat tied in bundles with satin ribbon.

Make sure the guest bathroom is shiny-clean. This is one area guests will notice if everything isn’t in top shape. Spend a few minutes the night before scrubbing, polishing and putting out fresh towels. A candle or small floral arrangement is a great finishing touch for the guest bath.

Have plenty of garbage bags on hand as well as plastic wrap and foil. If you are going to be sending home doggie bags, make sure you have resealable bags or even some take out boxes to use.

If you are going to use scented candles, make sure the scents are all of the same family – spicy, floral, or fruity. Don’t mix the scents!

Have an activity for the children. It could be something as simple as Thanksgiving themed pages to color, board games or find the thimble. Put an older child in charge of these activities. I read something the other day about a game that would have been played around the time of the first Thanksgiving celebration called “Kick the Shins” … now there is a game I could have fun with!

Most of all, remember it isn’t about the house, the food or the atmosphere – it is about the people. Be gracious, be welcoming and create some warm memories that will last long after the turkey is finally gone!

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Entertaining!

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