Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and the key to a spectacular dinner is being as organized as possible. Do as much in advance as you can so that on the day of, you need only focus on your food preparation and service. This is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year and it comes with the most preparation and plenty of guests. But with a little forethought and planning, both you and your guests will enjoy a fabulous feast.
Start getting ready a week in advance. Think about the colors and flowers you’d like to use to decorate the table. When it comes to table-setting, you don’t want to be running around at the last minute. A couple of days beforehand, make sure your table linens are ironed, the silver’s polished and the place cards are made. Also set out your china, crystal, serving pieces and utensils, and make sure you have enough for your guest count. To help you keep track, use Post-it Notes to mark what each platter will be used for, so there’s no scrambling when the dishes are ready to come out of the oven. (Also, compare your serving pieces to your menu, so there are no surprises on the day of.) Most importantly, set your table the night before, so all you have to worry about on Thanksgiving Day is the food!
Now, while you could serve any number of delicious soups, salads, side dishes and desserts at your Thanksgiving feast, the main attraction (and source of anxiety) is the turkey. The true secret to a magnificently moist bird? Cover it with cheesecloth before putting it in the oven and baste it every 20 minutes. Make sure the cheesecloth doesn’t get stuck to the skin of the bird (you’ll remove the it for the last 45 minutes, so the turkey turns a beautiful, golden brown). You can save yourself some time the day of Thanksgiving by slicing and dicing the ingredients for stuffing beforehand, but never, ever stuff the bird until the day of.
And what’s Thanksgiving without fabulous cocktails? This holiday is perfect for warm spiced cider. It can also be served chilled in a martini glass, garnished with a cinnamon stick and spiked with rum or brandy! This is more preparation you can take care of beforehand, since the cider can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.
The best of luck…and Happy Thanksgiving!