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Old 11-17-2009, 02:45 PM
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digiscrapital digiscrapital is offline
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Default First Time Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

I've been married for 13 years and have never hosted Thanksgiving at my house. This will be my first year. I've been trying to think of things I can do in advance to make the event go as smoothly as possible.

I will be using all of my grandmas recipes, which means everything will be 100% homemade from scratch. What kinds of things can I do in advance? I was thinking I could make the homemade butter ahead of time and freeze it. Any ideas on what else I could do in advance? Would rolls be better fresh? Or could I freeze those as well?

TIA for your suggestions.
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Old 11-17-2009, 03:23 PM
kimthechef kimthechef is offline
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I would do anything you can ahead of time. If you are having mashed potatoes, you can peel and cut the potatoes up to 1 day in advance. And keep them in the refridgerator Make sure you have them covered completely and drain the water and put new water on them before cooking.
On the butter, a cute idea, would be to make it ahead and freeze it, but maybe mold it into serving size pieces. You could use any of the chofolate molds, and it would be a nice touch to the table when it is all set.
On the rolls, I am a fan of hot fresh rolls, but It is something I would definately move up and freeze. Then I would get them out in the morning and let them defrost. May need to be the night before if you are having an early afternoon lunch.
If you are making any casseroles, can you assemble them ahead of time and keep them in the refridgerator until time to cook?

What does your menu consist of? I could help you brainstorm and figure out what you can do early. You definately want to make the day as stress free as possible.
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:34 PM
smarties smarties is offline
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Homemade butter? Wow -- you are going all out.

1. Let people bring something and help you. Pies and sides are good choices to delegate.
2. Focus on the things you want to be really great. (Hot rolls vs. homemade butter. People will notice the hot rolls, but probably won't notice the butter -- unless it's missing totally.)
3. Get out your serving dishes and servingware a day or the evening before. Put post it notes on each one, so you know what to use for each dish. You won't be searching for spoons or platters etc on the big day.
4. Don't try to do too much; just stick with the basics and make sure they are really great.
5. Have fun and don't stress.
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:34 PM
lp2 lp2 is offline
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I am a big fan of fresh rolls too. But you can make then a day ahead and warm in the oven before serving. If anyone knows the method for warming them in a paper grocery sack I would love to know that, I've only heard of it. Another Idea is here

http://networkedblogs.com/p18018789

If you have the fridge space you can shape the rolls the night before and put in the fridge as described in link above.

You can mash potatoes early them keep them warm in a crockpot.

Cranberry sauce can me made ahead. I also make my dressing ahead and keep in the fridge.
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:44 PM
twomoms twomoms is offline
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I make my stuffing on Wednesday night, the one thats going in the bird gets tossed in a bowl and the one for the side gets put into a 9x9 foil dish and baked the day of. I peel and cut the potatoes the night before, same with all my pies (this year I am only making apple, and MIL is bringing the rest) also chop everything the day before (or even a few days before) it will save you a ton of time.
my biggest suggestion use foil baking dishes for everything! and throw them out when you are done. 90% less dishes! some families might care, but mine doesnt.
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:56 PM
lkpaul lkpaul is offline
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Some things that have helped me: Make tons of lists. Make a list of ingredients (that way you can watch out for sales on those items), dishes you will serve, tableware you will need, serving dishes needed, etc. Then write out a time schedule for each dish and when you will prepare it (day and time). Get out all the serving dishes and tableware ahead of time (make sure to wash anything that may be a bit dusty). If it's practical, set the table the night before (don't forget centerpieces, candles, etc.).
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:59 PM
michelleh michelleh is offline
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I've never hosted, so I haven't tried it, but I've heard on other boards of people using Flylady's schedule . I've read through it and I think she has some great suggestions for getting everything done. good luck!
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Old 11-17-2009, 05:50 PM
jonafifi jonafifi is offline
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Pies can easily be made the day before. Same with green bean casserole and mashed potatoes. Jello salad ditto. If you are doing homemade cranberry sauce, it tastes better if you make it a day or two ahead and let it sit in the fridge.
Good luck - it is a lot of work!
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Old 11-17-2009, 11:06 PM
diehappy03 diehappy03 is offline
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Prep the turkey the way you want it the night before to avoid the unsanitary mess the day of. Stick it in the frige over night. I never put stuffing inside the bird, so if you do, then wait to put it in the next day. Stuffing can be made ahead of time and heated in a crockpot. Potatoes can also be boiled ahead of time and refrigerated. Then heat butter and milk in a big pot, add the potatoes and mash. Then they will be warm! Cook the rolls in the oven after the turkey is done. A turkey needs to reast at LEAST 20 minutes before you carve it. This gives you time to cook two batches of rolls before carving! BTW, we always have a prep party the day before Thanksgiving. It's a great time for all the ladies in the family to get together and gab without having to worry about getting a meal on the table.
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:50 AM
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digiscrapital digiscrapital is offline
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Thanks to everyone for the wonderful suggestions! I love love love the idea to shape the butter into cute molds and freeze them - I will have to do that for sure. And it's funny, but I would have never even thought to prep everything the day before so that it's ready the next day, so I'll also do that. Setting out the dishes, serving pieces, and setting the table the night before will also help cut back on the stress. I've assigned my MIL the pies and my SIL one side dish. We have a VERY small family (there are only 6 adults and 1 child total), so luckily I don't have to cook for a huge group. Whew! My grandma passed away a couple months ago, and I have all of her original recipes, so this is my way of remembering her. I think I'll stick with the basics... turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, slushy drink in a punch bowl, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, homemade rolls, a relish tray, and a couple of casserole-type items. Oh boy, now I'm getting really excited and less nervous!
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