The Day Before Thanksgiving: Your Time-Saving Checklist!

One day to go until Thanksgiving!

What’s in store for today?

A lot.

Just remember, though, that the more you get done today, the more you can welcome your guests tomorrow with a genuine smile and calm aura rather than trying to hide a growing level of stress that might result otherwise.

  • Prep your veggie sides. From roasted sprouts with bacon, chestnuts and shallots to a yam and golden delicious casserole infused with rosemary and from that mushroom stuffing to the cauliflower mash served in lieu of potatoes, all can be completely prepared today, set to cool and simply heated up tomorrow. Depending on the size of your oven and weight of the turkey, often the dishes can be heated up during the time the turkey rests under foil.
  • Create the special occasion sweets.   Whether you’re making a batch of Seasonal Raw Chocolate Truffles or using the Kitchen Aid and its ice cream maker attachment to whip up a batch of homemade coconut sorbet, getting the dessert out of the way is not only a time saver but will provide the opportunity to package up extra truffles to serve as parting favors for guests.
  • Depending on which method you’re using to cook the bird, get a move on. If you’re opting to use salt for this special occasion and are brining, and your bird is one the larger side, start the process as soon as you wake up as some chefs recommend up to a 48 hour brine for big birds[1]!
  • Print menus and finish up your décor. One little touch I often like to implement when I’m hosting a dinner party, whether for two or thirty, is to print out a menu or write it on the chalkboard. The five minutes it’ll take you will leave lasting memories in all our guests book of nostalgia we all keep in our mind’s eye. Better yet, if you happen to be ahead of the game and have a little extra time, include some of your tried and true recipes.
  • Plan your own meal for the big day. No, I’m not suggesting you ‘stick to your diet’ by serving a decadent meal to your guests and then get by on celery sticks and boiled chicken. Instead, choose your splurges so you can balance them out according. Just as I council clients to do when dining out or attending an event, decide in advance if you’re going to have the wine or the truffles, or the sorbet, not all of them. Unless you’re someone who truly can employ the ‘everything in moderation’ approach, which is not most people, better to pick the thing you’ll most enjoy and plan around it.   If you’re going for the wine, stay hydrated all day long, enjoy balanced meals leading up to the feast with sufficient fat and protein and veg, reducing or omitting fruit or any other sugar; you’ll get plenty of that in the wine! Then, just like your mom suggested, alternate wine with water and enjoy your vino with a meal, pacing yourself.   Having this all as part of your plan allows you to enjoy it and sidestep the downside of not planning, which is often a case of ‘oh, the heck with it, I had the wine so I may as well have whatever else I want…and a lot of it’ behavior, making it all the easier to get back on track the next day.
  • Keep calm, breathe and focus. Sounds trivial, perhaps, or maybe even cliché, but anytime I can find a way to sneak in a little hint or reminder to be more present, I’m going for it! A mere five-minute break by yourself in a quite room where you can just breathe can work wonders for what might otherwise turn into a panicky stress fest!

If you can hit the hay a little early and get a good night’s rest, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. Wake up early tomorrow, hit the gym or take a family hike and come home just in time to put that beautiful bird in the oven!


[1] “Turkey Brining Recipes and Tips |” Epicurious. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2015