Thank you so much. ;o)
A few weeks before, I usually make and can a bunch of my cranberry sauce. Then it's as easy as opening a jar on Thanksgiving day! Or bringing a jar to my aunt's house. =)
I also usually mix up the dry ingredients for whatever rolls or cakes I'm bringing to my aunt's. I keep the dry mixes in airtight containers, so on Thanksgiving all I have to do is add wet ingredients and go from there.
Thanks again for asking a great question! I'm just putting my list together, too, but first up is getting the guest rooms and bathroom ready. (We have 4 family members staying here for the weekend.) And putting the leaf in the table; ironing the tablecloth and napkins, organizing the serving pieces, polishing anything that needs polish. I know there's more, but that's my start. (P.S. This is really helpful to me--I haven't hosted Thanksgiving in ages!)
I generally have the shopping done for pantry staples that I will need and the fresh stuff is purchased the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Like drbabs I iron tablecloths, napkins etc.. My real prep work starts 3 days before Thanksgiving, I make pie dough and refrigerate, 2 days before I make the cornbread and the cubed bread for the dressing, make the cranberry compote. I am eagerly going to follow this because for me its crunch time the day before when I make my pies, prep the turkey, make the dressing, cut and bag the vegetables for the dressing. I am toying with the idea of making the rolls the day before, par baking and refrigerate until T-day and browning just before dinner. I wish I were as organized as everyone here I can't wait to see what you all do.
Confirm with my sister that we're on the same page re: who's doing what and timing. Ditto other family/guests. Check in with my kids to make sure we're in cahoots re: travel arrangements; insist they not cut it too close at the airport/train station. Because I said so.
General cleaning/tidying; making sure there are enough wine glasses, dessert plates, etc; organizing serving stuff, linens, etc. Buy a new turkey baster, which mysteriously disappears every year.
Order my husband around - have him schlep the second table upstairs, pick up the wine/beer order, go to local farm stand for cider, and so on. Apologize for being so bossy. Give him more orders.
Figure out something easy/quick to make for dinner the night before T-giving. And when I say 'make' I do not exclude ordering pizza or Chinese food.
Any baking/cooking that can be done a few days ahead (like cranberry sauce or prep work); fine tune menu and quantities - shop for anything I haven't yet bought, made or frozen (except for fruit/vegetables, which I do the day before.)
Sunday night I hit the wall, have a glass of wine with a friend, and calm the hell down.
Since I am not cooking and only bringing an appetizer I am spending extra time working out. I could get to like this!
Not cooking this year, I'm leaving for France on 11/24, but when I do.... I make cranberry sauce and relish well ahead, as well as my roll dough. Also my vinaigrette for the salad. And depending upon what I'm serving for an hors d'oeuvre (singular, please note) I might be making that the weekend before.
ChefJune, do you make the dough for your rolls, and then freeze it uncooked? If so, do you shape them after the first rise and then put the pan in the freezer? I'm seriously considering doing a significant portion of the roll making activity ahead of time this year. The logistics have not been worked through yet. Thanks! ;o)
I'm going to Parent-teacher conferences :)
I'll make cranberry sauce ahead like others. can shop this week and next and cube the bread, prep vegetables, nuts, etc., ahead. Oh, I do have to make veal stock-- this week. Fairway and Trader Joe's are within blocks of school, so it's easy to do school dropoff and then shop.
This is a great question! If you haven't seen it already, check out Melissa Clark's seven-day plan for Thanksgiving in the NYTimes: http://dinersjournal.blogs...
My very favorite thing to do ahead is make the gravy. A couple weeks in advance I freeze 7 1/2 cups stock made from 6# roasted turkey necks or wings. Two or three days before Thanksgiving I start the gravy. First, reduce 3 cups stock to 1 cup. Add 4 1/2 more stock and bring to boil. Make a roux of 3 Tbs. butter and 4 1/2 Tbs. flour, and stir in 1 cup stock. Stir til smooth and pour mixture into rest of stock. Cook til thick, season with salt and pepper, and stick in refrig. Now the best part: On Thanksgiving day simply add the degreased drippings from the turkey into the warmed stock and you've got delicious, stress-free gravy!
This is a great question! I love reading everyone's answers. I host Thanksgiving, but everyone who comes brings one or 2 important dishes so I do not knock myself out prepping everything. The weekend before, I pick up all the clutter, make sure the tablecloths are ironed, procure any serving supplies (including renting tables and chairs) and clean the guest room and the bathrooms. We usually eat around 2p, and I ask anyone who wants to help (usually around 2/3 of the guests) to come around 12n for the set-up and to finish their own cooking at my house. That way, the togetherness is more important than the house being "party ready". We have done this for 20 years and our guests enjoy being helpful. It is a huge load off me to let them set up the tables, decorate with flowers and candles, set up the serving areas, make the coffee, etc.
AN IMPORTANT THING I FORGOT: the weekend before, I go to Costco and get a large number of disposable food containers (Glad, Ziplocks, etc.). After we eat, everyone gets to choose containers and pack up leftovers to take home! This is super-popular. And I am not left with leftovers for an army. And since they are packing up, they just continue to help packing up things for me and washing whatever does not fit in the dishwasher. Many hands make light work. And the hostess gets to visit instead of work.