Every year I set goals and make lists to get things accomplished early and make the holiday season less stressful. I make out my Thanksgiving menu and grocery list in early November. I plan on using make ahead recipes as much as I can. Make ahead mashed potatos are a staple. They can be made a week ahead of dinner and frozen. Just thaw and bake. I can make my pumpkin bread ahead and freeze as well. Usually, I make my pumpkin and pecan pies 2 days early and refrigerate. My broccoli and cheese casserole is made the night before dinner and refrigerated until time to bake. Make up any salads the evening before.
I bake my turkey in a baking bag overnight, carve it and put the turkey in chicken broth and keep warm in a dish in the oven. This will prevent a very dry bird! We have never had the formal turkey carving at our table-we're not that fancy! This makes dinner prep go quicker and no worries about getting the bird done at the same time as everything else.
I serve the canned cranberry sauce( I know....homemade would taste so much better but my children LOVE it) so I put it on the serving plates and wrap in plastic wrap the night before so I only have to pull it out at the last minute. My butter is put on saucers( I do not have butter dishes) and wrapped the night before dinner also--pull out a few hours before dinner to soften it up. Just preparing little things the night before and keeping it refrigerated until dinner is a major help.
You can also set the table the evening before to save time the day of dinner. I go as far as planning the serving bowls/dishes I will be placing the food in. They are on the counter waiting to be filled. My bread basket is waiting on the table with a pretty napking lining it.
If you are having company for dinner let them bring a dish if they ask! Go on and accept the offer-you do not have to be superwoman! If you have children young or old, have them pitch in. I chuckle when I think of the year my DD#1 was helping me get our 26 lb. bird in the baking bag! She dropped it in and it went straight throught the bag and bounced across the kitchen floor. To this day, this is one of our favorite family memories. Of course, the bird had a bath befor going back in the bag!! Show littles how to set one place setting and let them finish the table the night before. Have tweens scrub the potatoes for mashed or sweet potatoes. Teens can help make pie fillings or let them choose a dish to make all by themselves. Let Hubby pick up the item(s) you are sure to forget. Having the entire family pitch in, makes everyone feel useful and needed.
Remember, the more you do ahead, and the more you accept help, the more you will be able to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving with your family. Plan ahead and make some happy memories!
I hope your Thanksgiving is a relaxing and memorable one!