The week of Thanksgiving wasn’t the easiest this year. Unfortunately my husband’s grandmother passed away the day before Thanksgiving and although it was slightly foreseen, it didn’t it any less difficult to deal with. My in-laws still felt that Thanksgiving should go on as it was supposed to at least for the kids. I was going to agree to just about anything this year due to the hardship. Well it just so happened that this was the year that my husband decided to build a new dining room table from scratch…yes from scratch. I mean all the raw wood and new tools from Lowe’s and everything. With everything going on with his grandmother he didn’t have as much time to finish it as he thought. The day before Thanksgiving was filled with the loss of a family member, a race for a fresh 22 pound turkey, and the strength to complete a harvest table for 10.
Thanksgiving always comes along with it’s bumps and bruises but I still love to host it every year. I was smart this year though; I made sure every one had a job so I wasn’t stuck cooking for a football team starting at 7am. Being able to have a fresh turkey was a big help because I didn’t have to worry about leaving it in the fridge for 3 days to defrost. If that were the case I would not have had enough room for the side dishes that I wanted to make the night before such as sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce. I wanted to share some tips that used this Thanksgiving to help decrease the stress and labor and make it more enjoyable.
Give everyone a job – Whether it’s buying a bottle of wine from the grocery store or making a side dish, it’s super helpful for guests to bring something to help out. This year my in laws brought the mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and ambrosia salad. My mom brought her famous veggie casserole and my sister in law brought rolls (although I already had that covered)
Semi-Homemade – Although I am usually making everything from scratch, I have realized that I am a bit crazy. The potatoes that my in laws brought this year came from Costco and they were delicious. Technically someone in the back of Costco made those potatoes from scratch that morning so it’s only semi-homemade because I personally didn’t make it. Also the mac n cheese side dish that I make is thanks to Kraft home-style mac n cheese. Of course I doctor it up with different cheeses, heavy cream, and butter but it definitely starts out in a bag.
What can be done the night before – I have always separated the dishes that can be cooked the night before from the ones that I need to make the day of. The sweet potato casserole takes a little while because it’s all from scratch and peeling 10 pounds of large sweet potatoes can take a minute or two. I layer all the marshmallows and get it ready to go in the oven then let it sit in the fridge till morning. Also, the cranberries are made the night before since they need to be cold anyways. This year I also made a tomato and cucumber salad that I did the night before since the tomatoes were nice and firm and able to soak in the balsamic vinegar. The dishes that I made the day of besides the turkey were just the mac n’ cheese and stuffing. I had enough time to make appetizers, which was a huge plus.
The magical turkey roaster – A few years ago my in laws bought us a turkey roaster, which I didn’t realize was the absolute saving grace. The ability to cook the turkey all day and still have all the room you need in the oven available for the side dishes is such a luxury. The turkey roaster fits a 22-pound turkey and we sit in on a side table by the window to let out the steam when we open it. It’s fantastic and I get the whole kitchen to myself to make everything else.
Although Thanksgiving is over I thought it would be a great post for those who maybe had some difficulties this holiday and are looking to switch up their game plan for next year. These are also perfect tips to use for those who have large family dinners on Christmas like we do. All the same people that I cook for on Thanksgiving are at my table for Christmas as well so you bet I will be utilizing these tips to make Christmas dinner a piece of cake.
I also have to mention my husband definitely finished the table and did a fantastic job. I was so impressed that he took plain wood planks and 4×4’s and completely transformed them into a sturdy, rustic, stained harvest table that you would see at stores like Pier One and Anthropology. In my opinion he was working out the feelings of losing his grandmother by being able to really work with his hands.
It was a great Thanksgiving thanks to everyone pitching in and that’s the plan for Christmas as well. Hope to hear that some of these tips worked for you too!
Happy Holidays =)
The Hot Mess Mom
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