Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep

Chuk and I are hosting Thanksgiving this year. It's our first time. The year before last, we hosted Christmas for my family, so we're not completely inexperienced, but this time we're hosting Chuk's family and also I'm "large with child". (I''ve wanted to say that this whole pregnancy. I'm weird.) Somehow, it being my in-laws makes it more intimidating and, well, pregnancy just makes everything more difficult.

To keep myself sane, I've divided everything I need to get done into daily tasks in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. That way I never get overwhelmed and can keep my energy levels up. I think it's the best way to tackle any big project.

Everyone's to-do list is going to look different, but I find the most helpful thing in planning for an event like Thanksgiving is to clean out your fridge first. Toss anything you're not going to eat (I'm looking at you weird olives that came in that gift basket) or that has gone bad (like that bottle of almost empty mustard that was "best by" Oct 2010.) No one likes to waste food, but this is the time to be ruthless.

Once you've cleared it out, wash all the shelves in the fridge so they're sparkling clean. Finally reorganize the remaining food in a way that 1) makes sense to you, and 2) leaves large spaces empty for all the holiday food you're going to be cramming in there over the next week. If you're like me you'll have lots of little bits of food that need to be eaten up before you go shopping again. Point these foods out to everyone in your family and tell the goal is to have them gone by X date.

Another way I keep myself sane when hosting holidays, is I ask the guests to help. I normally don't ask guests to bring things when I'm hosting, but somehow, in my mind, holidays have a different set of rules. There is a lot of food to make and I have a small apartment and an even smaller kitchen.

We've asked Chuk's sister and brother-in-law to bring pumpkin and pecan pies. (I'm praying they make them themselves and don't buy frozen.) And we've asked my father-in-law, who doesn't cook at all, to bring things we don't mind him buying at the store: appetizers, rolls, and cranberry sauce. Chuk and I (and by "Chuk and I" I mean I) will be making the bulk of the meal: turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and possibly glazed carrots. Chuk's sister called him last night and told him she was also going to bring apple sauce because their mom always made homemade apple sauce for holiday meals.

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year and what are you eating? I think it's so interesting how every family seems to have a pretty rigid Thanksgiving menu, but that it seems to vary from family to family. For instance, Chuk's family always had apple sauce and rolls, but never sweet potatoes. We never had apple sauce and rarely had rolls, but always had sweet potato casserole and brussel sprouts.


  1. I love hearing about everyone's Thanksgiving menus because they really are so personal.

    We always have sweet potatoes and sometimes rolls. My mom makes a broccoli and rice casserole that I'm in love with, Velveta goodness and all! I don't think we'll have it this year so I'm probably going to make it for our Christmas dinner this year instead.

  2. That is exactly how I like to do my planning and task dividing! And you're kind of a genius for cleaning out the fridge BEFORE everything else, I may have to copy you!


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