Get organized early.
It's easy to get organized when you draw up your plans according to the tasks you must accomplish, such as menus, guest lists, decorations, supplies and equipment.
Choose your Thanksgiving recipes now.
Planning to host a Thanksgiving dinner or need to make a dish to take to a holiday buffet? Search VeryBestBaking.com’s database of recipes from NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE®, CARNATION® Milks and LIBBY'S® Pumpkin.
Timing is everything.
Timing is critical in pulling off a large holiday dinner - particularly one that has multiple courses and even multiple dishes per course. If this is the first time you've hosted a Thanksgiving dinner, or if you plan to prepare recipes you've never made before, we recommend trying them out beforehand in order to have a Thanksgiving dinner that runs smoothly. Remember, practice makes perfect. If you're a more experienced cook, perhaps this is the right occasion to try a new recipe and start your own holiday tradition. To please all your guests, make sure you include some family favorites to go along with the new recipes you try.
Draw up a guest list and make invitations.
Plan out the type of gathering you'd like to host and determine your guest list at least a month or more in advance. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where family and friends often get pulled in many different directions. So, be considerate and give them plenty of notice ahead of time to help them decide what they want to do and where they want to go.
Make your home festive.
Creating decorations for your gathering will really get you into a festive spirit! Don't forget to buy Thanksgiving-themed tablecloths and cloth napkins to dress up your table.
Load up your pantry.
Once you've determined your menu, make sure you've got all the ingredients you need for Thanksgiving dinner. When making your shopping list, be sure to adjust the quantities on your list if you plan to double recipes. Double-check your list before you go to the store. To avoid leaving out key items, picture yourself walking through each recipe you will make and visualize the items you will need. Shopping far in advance for non-perishable items helps spread out the cost of entertaining and keeps your household budget on a more even keel. Shop for perishables and any remaining ingredients that you need several days before your special meal.
Make sure you're fully equipped.
Every season has its special foods. Review your Thanksgiving recipes well in advance to see if you'll need specific utensils, serving dishes, or preparation pans such as baking sheets, cake pans, special decorating tools, cookie cutters, basters, etc. If you're new to baking, or only bake occasionally, take time to familiarize yourself with this equipment to make sure you're comfortable using it.
Organizing on the big day.
There's a lot to do before your guests arrive, but don't sweat it.
Here are some ideas to help you plan out the order of your day:
Begin Baking - Check preparation and baking times to make sure you begin baking early enough. Plan for multiple uses of your oven. For example, you can pop a pie in the oven to bake after you've removed the roasted turkey, or use the oven's residual heat to warm up an already-dessert. You may want to invite a special guest or relative who also likes baking to arrive early to help you out.
Get snacks ready early - Prepare snacks or finger food items first, so guests have something handy to munch on when they arrive.
Decorate once the food is underway - put out decorations, set the table with place settings, or arrange a casual buffet line early in the day, while your food is baking. Arrange seating and set out special candles, but wait until guests to arrive to light them.
Hold a Dry Run
A few moments before your guests arrive, take a minute to go through your house. Are there plenty of places for them to sit? How is the lighting? Are drinks and appetizers easily accessible? This is your chance to correct any earlier oversights without losing face.