Countdown to T-Day

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It’s a one-handed OMGcoffee kind of morning.


Eventually, I wised up and made it a babywearing kind of morning.  Winking smile


I guess Henry really did miss me when I went away on my business trip – he wouldn’t let me put him down this morning!  Not that I minded – I didn’t want to put him down either.  Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.  Sometimes, amidst the craziness of daily life, I lose sight on how  much I love everything about it and everyone involved.  It’s hard to go away overnight, but damn – it’s good for the soul.  I was actually excited to be woken up at 3:45 AM last night because it meant that I got to cuddle with H.  That, my friends, is either pure craziness or crazy love.


It’s also a rainy morning.  So dreary out.


This calls for oatmeal!  Regular banana oats with pan-fried apples on top.  Oh, and protein powder mixed in.


Craaaaaap, It’s Almost Thanksgiving


Can you believe it’s almost Thanksgiving?  Um, I cannot.  And I’m a little freaked out because, for the first year ever, we are hosting the official meal.   There will be six adults and one bebe, and I’m in charge of all the food except the turkey and appetizers.  I am trying to remind myself that 1) six people is a rather small dinner party and 2) it doesn’t have to be perfect because that’s not what the holiday is about.   But I would like it to be nice – it’s H’s first Thanksgiving!


I’m going to keep it simple, but I would like to have a lot of the ‘staples’ – green bean casserole, potatoes, pies, and whatnot.  I’m definitely making Shroomy Mashed Potatoes, Baked Apples, and Corn Casserole (<—this is a really great, totally simple dish).  Then, there’s the added layer of the fact that most of the dishes need to be modified to be vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or diabetic-friendly to accommodate various family members.  I don’t mind the added work of making highly specific dishes, but man – it sure will be a challenge. 


Also, I need to hit up Goodwill and find some pretty serving dishes.  We certainly do not have enough dishes to accommodate a six-person Thanksgiving.  I don’t even have enough big spoons!


How does one go about planning a T-Day menu? I guess I should try to make a lot of the food ahead of time, right?  Heeeelp.



  • Amanda November 15, 2012, 8:28 am

    I feel you on the dishes! I’m bringing most of the sides to my Sister’s place and I don’t think I have enough bakeware that travels! Not to mention the holiday has totally sneaked up on me, I seriously still need to go shopping, eek!

  • pam November 15, 2012, 8:33 am

    Make Try 35-40 people..When there is that many, everyone brings something so that no one person is cooking it all.. pies you can make ahead of a day for can make and freeze til that day..take out and bake like normal..pecan the day before..all custard pies like lemon, coconut cream..those can be made the day before. Just about everything can be made the day before and then warmed up the next day..the only trouble is the refrigerator space…you may run out of Have a great thanksgiving.

    • Caitlin November 15, 2012, 8:33 am

      dude, 35 – 40 people would make my head explode. good luck!

  • Laura November 15, 2012, 8:40 am

    I totally laughed out loud reading your post – I am hosting for the first time for six people as well and there are all of these adult things to think about. Tablecloth? OMG!

    Now I completely get my mom’s holiday stressing. 🙂

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More November 15, 2012, 8:42 am

    I’m excited to actually be home for Thanksgiving last year (it’s been at least 4 years since I got to spend it with my family) and last year I spent it in the hospital (lame!). My mom’s cousin hosts the Thanksgiving party and I offered to bring some roasted veggies. I was informed there would be close to 25 people…uhhh?!

  • Nicole@ November 15, 2012, 8:43 am

    I would suggest making as much of the stuff ahead of time that you can…that will be a lot easier on you. Also you can do little things like set the table the day before.

  • Bekah November 15, 2012, 8:48 am

    I know what you mean about not minding the middle of the night feeds. Since being back at work for 2 weeks I just want to hug my little guy as much as I can. Also, I have to say I have a lot of respect for you with the lengths you go for pumping. I have to pump 2-3 times at work during the day and it is–I don’t mind saying–a total pain. I’m sure it will get easier as it becomes more routine, but it’s such an ordeal now–and I feel like no one talks about it! There’s this whole world of new moms who have to deal with this stuff and I never really heard about it until I was in the thick of it. Anyway, re: Thanksgiving. Make-ahead stuff is key. I’m making the spinach and gruyere gratin from Real Simple and a sweet potato casserole courtesy of Martha. Random fact that I just found out–beware of Thanksgiving herbs like sage, which can dry out breastfeeding moms.

  • Alison November 15, 2012, 8:50 am

    Figure out how many dishes will fit in your oven to keep things warm and to warm up. Are go from their – That base number can be the number of warm dishes – Keep this in mind when you are picking up your dishes.
    Also try to do as much batch prep as possible. Figure out how many onions you need for all your recipes and chop them at one time and store in the fridge as you use them…

    good luck and I can’t wait to hear how it turns out

  • Stefanie November 15, 2012, 8:58 am

    It may seem like a lot of work but don’t get stressed out as that will lead to disaster!!! Lots of prep work is key in the days leading up to it…..get everything chopped (veggies) and make a list of each item and break down what you need for everything, check off any ingredients you have in the house and make a seperate list of what you need to get!! Just remember to stay organized!!!

    Good Luck and Enjoy!!!!

  • Sara November 15, 2012, 9:02 am

    Make the pies ahead of time. I always make the cranberry sauce the night before too. We always host Thanksgiving (well we have for the past four since marriage). We usually have about 9 to 10 people including me and my husband. Everyone brings something and we mainly focus on the turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce. I usually try to make a few healthy sides too in addition to the traditional sides family brings but this year I’m keeping it simple. Good luck!

  • Tara November 15, 2012, 9:04 am

    I make a list of everything we want. I usually go all out and then get super stressed on the day of. This year I’m 7 months preggo and we’re still hosting, so I’m scaling way back. I don’t want to stress baby and me out!

    I totally agree to make ahead anything that is possible and think outside the oven! Last year I made mashed potatoes the night before, then the morning of added some more liquid/butter and put them in the crock pot on low until dinner. It freed up my time and they still tasted amazing! This year I’m doing the same and busting out my 2nd crock pot to make the green bean casserole, so I can make it in the morning and forget about it.

    I’m also asking people to bring something if they want. My mom bakes amazing pies, so she’s making those and my MIL loves to cook so she’s bringing sweet potatoes. Anything that takes some of the work of me and plus they get to feel included in the prep. The grandpas are on toddler duty and hubby is helping me with the turkey.

    Planning and prepping ahead, getting help if needed, and remembering things don’t have to be perfect have helped me feel pretty good about this year. Good luck with you meal!

  • LMN November 15, 2012, 9:13 am

    we have 10 adults and 1 baby. and that’s 2 whole families combined. i love the small family world 🙂

  • Caroline November 15, 2012, 9:14 am

    My mom and I try to prep as much as we can the day or two before, and plan out when we want to start making the food and when it needs to be in the oven. Organization at its finest. People won’t expect that it’s perfect, so try to veer away from that expectation as much as possible:) Sounds like it will be a fun day!

  • Nikole November 15, 2012, 9:16 am

    I bought a few cute plastic thanksgiving trays a couple of years ago at Dollar Tree and bring them out every year. Cheap and reusable. My problem with making things ahead has always been storage space. Last year we cleaned out our beer/wine fridge and used it to hold our everyday fridge stuff so I could use the fridge solely for make ahead items and it worked really well!
    Remember it will be great and doesn’t have to be perfect (hard for me to do).

  • Natalie @ Free Range Human November 15, 2012, 9:18 am

    Make a list! And, yes, make as much ahead of time as possible. So many dishes really can be prepped even a few days ahead.

  • Calla November 15, 2012, 9:25 am

    We hosted Thanksgiving for five this year (Canada has an earlier Thanksgiving than the US). One person brought a dessert and a couple brought a great big salad, and in addition to those we made a chicken-based entrée that was adaptable for vegetarians (I forget its name but it involved figs and was delicious! My fiancé just made one marinade and poured it over chicken and separately over tofu to bake), my grandmother’s biscuits, a crostini appetizer, and another dessert. I think there was one more side dish as well but I’m blanking on what it was. As to serving we let it be buffet-style, so everyone could just pick what they wanted. We found there was enough for everyone but we didn’t end up with tons of leftovers of anything but one of the desserts (which as the hosts we were more than happy to enjoy for the next couple of days!).
    As planning was concerned, we had the meal on the Sunday evening, discussed dishes for the week leading up to it, and went on a big grocery/market run on the Saturday. We have a small kitchen, so on Sunday I made the things I was going to make first, cleaned up, and then my fianc̩ made his things Рhe did the entr̩e and the crostini, so it was more important that they be warm when people arrived. Hope this helps!

  • Lauren November 15, 2012, 9:35 am

    This is my first Thanksgiving post my discovery that I am sensitive to gluten. I feel bad about it. My veganism isn’t as difficult since there will be 3 other eaters at Thanksgiving that are in the same boat (although my parents would have been okay with being just vegetarians for the holiday). But the gluten thing? That sucks. It really, really sucks.

    I swear it’s harder than it was for me to go vegan. So much more difficult. 🙁

  • Rachel (Two Healthy Plates) November 15, 2012, 9:35 am

    Definitely make as much before hand as you possible can! Dishes like casseroles and most desserts freeze really well too. You can defrost them the night before and warm them in the oven after the main dish comes out!

  • Rebecca November 15, 2012, 9:39 am

    I got invited to a Thanksgiving dinner this weekend hosted by our neighbors. There’ll be around 25 of us, but we’re each bringing food, so it’s not all on the girls hosting. I’m kind of excited.
    And then next week for T-Day I’m not sure what’s happening. We might do a big family thing, and if everyone from my mom’s side comes (not likely) it’d be something like 50 people. Last year we had a good 15-20 or so. It helps when the food isn’t all prepared by one person. 🙂

  • Katie November 15, 2012, 9:39 am

    I’m still living at home so I haven’t had the stress of big meal planning yet, however I would recommend mapping out the day, and gathering potential recipes and making absolutely everything had of time that can be. (I believe most side dishes can be prepped ahead)

  • Corrie @ Blurb Column November 15, 2012, 9:43 am

    Lists! Lists! Lists!

    I have already been making several lists, including the main dinner, appetizers, desserts, etc, and writing next to those items the groceries needed, so for our corn casserole we need canned corn, canned creamed corn, bell pepper, etc, so all that gets written next to corn casserole on the list.

    CROCK POT(s) are your friend. You can make mashed potatoes first thing in the morning before your stove gets busy and stick them in a crock pot to keep warm. (Goodwill often has crock pots for cheap!)

    And, don’t stress. Everyone will have a good time, even if the turkey catches on fire and you end up eating Chinese.

  • diana November 15, 2012, 9:44 am

    we’re hosting this year for the first time too! 11 people total. google docs is my best friend. we have what we’re making, who’s making what and when, what serving plate it goes in, recipe link and ingredient list. next up we have to figure out how we’re going to make sure everything gets to the table hot!

  • Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries November 15, 2012, 9:48 am

    I always find pretty dishes at Ross for a really reasonable price too! I’m sure prepping a lot of the dishes ahead of time will help a lot. You’ll do great! 🙂

  • deva at deva by definition November 15, 2012, 10:06 am

    I have not yet hosted a Thanksgiving, but The Boy and I are already discussing hosting the 2014 T-Day and are wondering where we are going to fit everyone (unless it’s just us, in which case it will be very low-key!). I’ve never made a whole turkey before, but I love all the side dishes.. LOVE.

  • colleen November 15, 2012, 10:07 am

    The first time I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner was for five adults and lists definitely help. Plus having assistances also reduces the stress. The best part of that first hosted Thanksgiving, which we still laugh about today (10 years ago), was my college best friend peeled and cooked 5 lbs. of mashed potatoes! More than enough for 5 adults. Good thing we love mashed potatoes!

  • Lindsey @ Pas de Deux November 15, 2012, 10:07 am

    We create a somewhat crazy spreadsheet, including the name of the recipe (categorized), the cookbook and page number where the recipe can be found, and info on how to cook–oven temp, time, etc. Be sure to factor in time for re-heating any dished that you made ahead of time, and try to coordinate cooking things that need the same oven temp.

    Also, we always are scrambling to get the gravy done… it always falls by the wayside… So, yea, don’t forget the gravy! 😉

    Good luck, and have fun!

  • Erin November 15, 2012, 10:08 am

    I started back to work full time two weeks ago. And now I am kind of disappointed when my 4.5 month old sleeps through the night. I miss her when she doesn’t get up during the night. So you definitely aren’t crazy!

    You can definitely assemble things a few days before hand. Green bean casserole, cranberries, most desserts, even your stuffing. I would recommend mashed potatoes be made that day, though.

  • Christine @ BookishlyB November 15, 2012, 10:10 am

    I’m hosting for the first time too- I should have 17 people. I’m a little panicked about the turkey- I’ve never made one and I’m not going to be eating it anyway, since I’m a vegetarian (ethically I was torn, but you really can’t invite meat eaters to your house on Thanksgiving and not give them turkey). We’ll survive!

  • Jane T. November 15, 2012, 10:12 am

    For gluten free green bean casserole, Pacific makes condensed cream of mushroom soup in little cartons – I found it at Target in the soup aisle! Just use that, and use crushed up Rice Chex for the fried onions 😉 still just as good!

  • Jen November 15, 2012, 10:16 am

    My mom makes Thanksgiving for about the same amount of people now, around 6. She writes down her menu, so that she knows exactly what she needs to cook.

    She cooks anything she can ahead of time, or at least partially prepares it!

    You can do it!

  • Jane T. November 15, 2012, 10:16 am

    Also, if you want stuffing, this is my favorite gluten free option AND you make it in the crockpot!! (We’ve hosted for the past 3 years, but this year we’ll be visiting my mom so figured I’d share the knowledge I don’t need to use…hehe) (I use Bob’s Red Mill cornbread mix for this every year, and vegetable broth, and it’s awesome – it’s so good I’m making it at my mom’s so I get to have stuffing too!)

  • Amy Q November 15, 2012, 10:17 am

    Caitlin- that baby is so cute that I can’t stand it! 🙂

  • Elizabeth November 15, 2012, 10:24 am

    My suggestion…keep the wishbone of the turkey and make an ornament to remember Henry’s first Thanksgiving! We did this with both of our kids and I love it. Also, purchase cute Thankgiving PJs for Henry and take lots of pictures.

  • Reenie November 15, 2012, 10:25 am

    Go to Dollar General, Dollar Tree and/or Family Dollar ~ they always have very cute, inexpensive items ….. from decore, tablecloths to dishes, etc. =)

    • Reenie November 15, 2012, 10:26 am

      Oh…. and serving utensils too!! =)

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life November 15, 2012, 10:32 am

    YES! Prep ahead of time for sure! Also, you could go to a party supply store to get serving dishes and spoons. They will have some that are festive for the holiday but you won’t have to spend and arm and a leg. Also, I know how much you love Home Goods and I have found some AWESOME fall bowls, plates, etc there are reasonable prices as well. The other recommendation I have is to check out Food Network’s website. They have a ton of ideas and count-down lists of how to prep.

    Good luck! You’ll do great!

  • April November 15, 2012, 10:39 am

    I made your corn casserole two Thanksgivings ago for my dish to pass…now I have to bring it to all family potlucks!

  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action November 15, 2012, 10:53 am

    I LOVE so much how stuff you buy second hand! I love shopping at Goodwill and sometimes people will give me weird looks when I comment how amazing the stuff is there. Good for you for decreasing consumerism!

    Good luck with Thanksgiving! I’ve never hosted so I can’t comment- however, my helpful hint would be to NOT try any new recipes. I did that at the last dinner party I threw and the recipe ended up being terrible. However, it is something to laugh about later.

  • Jenny @ For Your Consideration November 15, 2012, 11:00 am

    Hi Caitlin, sadly, I have no T-Day advice for you. After years of primarily microwaving meals, I am just now finding my way around the rest of the kitchen. But I do have a question. Could you describe the process you used to pan-fry those apples? They look delicious and I totally want to make some!

  • Beks November 15, 2012, 11:07 am

    My family/extended family have always done potluck, and it alternates between our house or my uncle’s house (Whoever has thanksgiving, the opposite has Christmas). Whoever hosts does the turkey, and everyone else brings a side and/or dessert. I always make cornbread (Little House on the Prairie recipe that I’ve been making since I was nine. Oh Lord. 18 years now!), cranberry sauce and glazed carrots.

  • Sonia the Mexigarian November 15, 2012, 11:34 am

    We had our first Thanksgiving with my side of the family early. My mom gave up the cooking apron a loooooooooooong time ago so my sisters and I have been doing it together since. I was in charge of desserts this year and made cheesecake, cookies and pie the night before. My little sister was in charge of turkey, stuffing, salad. Older sister in charge of roasted veggies and mashed potatoes. Mom actually made her candied yams 🙂 The boyfriends and husbands brought the alcohol.

    I think, just because you’re hosting, doesn’t mean you have to make everything. Maybe ask each party to bring one dish to the table? Or perhaps have them recommend a dish that you can make ahead of time so you don’t have to waste time hunting down recipes and making sure they fit the criteria of the dietary needs of each family member.

    Try Ross, TJ Max/Home Goods or of course the Good Will for dishes. OR if you are willing to pay more check out CostPlus World Market, Bed Bath Beyond, Pier 1 Imports and check for coupons for those. They always have something in the papers or online.

    Good luck!

  • Lydia November 15, 2012, 11:40 am

    Plan out your timing (and oven space!) ahead of time. Make or prep anything you can before Thursday (chopping, measuring dry ingredients and putting them in a bowl/ziplock etc). Get help with the prep work too. If you have all the ingredients out, it’s easy to delegate the “putting together” to someone who is just standing around drinking wine, haha. Casseroles and potatoes can be warmed mostly in the microwave and then “finished” in the oven for 15 minutes or so. Make all the pies by Wedensday too.

    You can set the table NOW too :). My mom is a big fan of the week ahead table setting. It’s one less thing to worry about. Unless of course you eat at that same table normally I guess….

  • Angie November 15, 2012, 11:49 am

    I make as much ahead as possible, as others have said. And I get mocked for this by my family, but I have a timetable..i.e. 12 preheat oven, 1:15 start water boiling for beans, etc. It was a lifesaver the year one of my kids got sick in the middle of meal prep and others had to take over..they just followed my schedule!

  • Melissa November 15, 2012, 12:16 pm

    I love TJ Maxx and Home Goods for serving ware/bake ware and have gotten some pretty awesome pieces (Le Creuset, etc) for CHEAP!

    Writing out a schedule for the timing of the various dishes, etc was the most helpful thing when planning Thanksgiving (or any other major dinner party I’ve hosted). It helps give structure to the day as well as eliminate some of the unproductive flitting around when you actually could be “relaxing” or sitting down visiting with guests.

    So much fun! You’ll do great!

  • Elizabeth November 15, 2012, 12:32 pm

    Back when I was blogging I made a gluten free stuffing that was a HUGE hit and people who did eat gluten didn’t even know. To make it vegetarian you could just use some veg sausage and veg broth or tempeh.

    Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing (makes about 8-10 servings, or half that in our house… we are obsessed with this recipe)
    One pan (8×8 baking dish) of cornbread, cut into cubes and lightly toasted (to make homemade cornbread, buy yellow cornmeal and follow the recipe on the box, substituting a gluten free baking mix for the flour in the recipe)
    cooking spray
    half a large yellow onion, chopped
    half a large head of celery, chopped
    1 Tbsp dried thyme, salt and pepper
    3 links chicken apple sausage, removed from casing (I also made a vegetarian version with mushrooms instead, use about three cups chopped)
    one handful dried cranberries
    2 cups chicken broth
    2 eggs, beaten

    Preheat the oven to 350. After the cornbread is cubed and toasted, place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a large pan, crumble and brown the sausage. Add to cornbread.

    Saute the onion and celery and spices in the same pan as the sausage and add to the bowl once the onion is translucent.

    Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, mix well, then add to a large baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for about an hour.

  • Lea @ Greens and Coffee Beans November 15, 2012, 12:51 pm

    My family totally cheats when it comes to Thanksgiving, there’s a really popular southern restaurant near my grandfather’s house (Wade’s, if you’ve ever been to Spartanburg, SC you’ve probably heard of it), where you can order food ahead of time and pick it up a few days before Thanksgiving. They prepare and freeze all the food for you so you only have to heat everything up Thanksgiving morning. It might be cheating but it makes Thanksgiving morning so much more relaxed, instead of trying to cook a million dishes for 8+ people in my grandfather’s teeny little kitchen. But too bad for me southern food is not very vegetarian or gluten-free friendly…

  • katie November 15, 2012, 12:55 pm

    I am interested to see what recipes you come up with that are dairy and gluten free. I have been gluten free for a few years but have recently had to give up dairy as a breastfeeding mom. If you are near a Trader Joes they have mixes of carrot/celery/onion–huge time saver. My other tip for GF stuffing is to use GF english muffins instead of bread, they are denser so they don’t get mushy like GF bread does.

  • Caitlin November 15, 2012, 1:24 pm

    I was shopping at Trader Joe’s the other day and they were giving out samples of their green bean casserole (recipe on the back of the fried onion thingies they sell) and it was FANTASTIC! Far better than the normal one. Also, not sure you’ve seen this at your TJ’s, but they are now selling pre peeled and cubed sweet potato and butternut squash.

  • KatieTX November 15, 2012, 1:48 pm

    TOTALLY in the same boat. Tgiving snuck up on me. My husband and I are hosting for 12 adults. Whew. My mom will insist on helping way too much. I have a feeling it will be a too many cooks in the kitchen situation. Good luck!! I would suggest getting guests to bring things. I gave out tasks via email. Everyone was more than happy to help…maybe try that? I, mean, at least someone can bring the bread or one type of pie.

  • steph November 15, 2012, 2:01 pm

    henry looks so cute in the 2nd picture 🙂

  • Carrie @ The Cook's Palette November 15, 2012, 2:15 pm

    Your notes on missing Henry are really sweet. 🙂 You will rock the Thanksgiving meal! Just remember to be relaxed as the host. I’ve gone to some dinners where the host was visibly stressed, which doesn’t make it as fun whether the food is delicious or not! Enjoy!

  • Molly @ RDexposed November 15, 2012, 2:21 pm

    Diabetic-friendly = good drink options: no juice, no cider, no soda. Simple as that!

  • nancy November 15, 2012, 2:22 pm

    Absolutely do as much ahead of time as you can. Seriously cuts down on T Day stress. When I first started hosting Thanksgiving I did it all day of—-and we eat midday—so that was a hectic morning. Now we have a plan that everyone looks forward to. I started buying T Day groceries earlier this week during my regular grocery shopping. I bought a fresh, free range turkey at our local Sprouts Market when they put them on sale. On Wednesday, my older daughter will make her wonderful chocolate pie, my son will make pumpkin pie and my younger daughter will help make the stuffing. Then I will roast several pans of vegetables including my teenagers new found favorite, roasted cauliflower and broccoli with parmesan. Then on T Day I can go for a run early, come home and start the turkey and then just have to cook potatoes and the frozen veggies my husband prefers. All the things we made ahead come to room temp on the counter and then into the oven once the turkey is finished. During the morning my girls will help me set the table with my mom’s Christmas china and her wedding silver. Most of the time it’s just our little family but sometimes we have some additional adults who have no family around. When that happens we do pretty much the same thing—-there’s just more people in the kitchen. For my family it’s all about the traditions we have made and making sure we observe them year after year. We do something outside together in the afternoon (bikes or football, etc) and then watch a movie together in the evening. Ever since the kids were little we would then all “camp” downstairs together in our family room for the night. These kids are high schoolers now and they still want to do that. Enjoy your first T Day with Henry and make some wonderful memories 🙂

  • Aerevyn November 15, 2012, 2:45 pm

    Pre-cooking and prepping? Hells to the yeeeeees! Makes things sane so that you can enjoy the cooking you do on Turkey day. I’m going to my mom’s for the holiday, but doing some of the cooking. I’m going to do a lot this weekend.

    Map out what you are going to do each day. You mentioned loving list making – me, too – and it breaks it down and makes it manageable and fun. If people offer to bring things, offer specific suggestions. Enjoy!

  • Ebernst November 15, 2012, 3:03 pm

    This post reminded me that I haven’t even thought about my Thanksgiving menu!! And i’m having 9-10 people over! YIKES!

    Thank goodness I’m starting my excel spreadsheet here at work!

  • jameil November 15, 2012, 3:13 pm

    We always have a hodge podge of people who can’t get home and live/converge in Charlotte so the number fluctuates and could always grow. It shall be awesome! Each person usually brings something- a dish it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving for them without or wine/beer. My mom, sister & I tag team on the cooking and husband gets sent on any store runs which we are trying to eliminate completely this year. Each person is responsible for at least one dish. I like the idea one of your readers had of doing the prep work ahead of time! I also use a Rachael Ray rule– need it twice, chop it once.

    I map out when everything should be cooked according to a time schedule and when it needs to be in the oven. I’ll cook my soup this weekend and freeze it. I’m also adding more oven-less items this year including a haricot verts and white bean salad with shallot vinaigrette. It’s room temp so I’ll make the dressing in advance and just have husband mix everything together before I serve it.

    Basically make as much in advance as you can and freeze or refrigerate depending on how far in advance. Map out the times everything needs to be done to get dinner on the table at the time you want. Include a reminder not to stress out at intervals if you’re prone to stressing out.

  • Nina November 15, 2012, 3:58 pm

    I’ve never made banana oats with pan-fried apples , but it looks good, so I may have to try it soon!

  • Elise @ Expeditions of Elise November 15, 2012, 5:48 pm

    Thanksgiving is one of my all-time favorite holidays, and I’ve been helping my dad with the cooking and planning for years. Here’s how I’d suggest doing things:

    Wednesday: Make your pies, soups, and any other food that needs prep. You could also chop veggies for dishes you’ll make on Thanksgiving Day. Also, figure out if anyone is bringing any dishes that you don’t have to worry about. My grandma always does dressing and some veggie dishes, so we know that’s taken care of.

    Thursday: In the morning, we always peel potatoes early. I love peeling potatoes and watching the Macy’s Day parade! Then they go into a big pot covered with water on the stove until it’s time to turn them on. My dad handles the turkey, which has been defrosted by now (check the package!) Throughout the morning/early afternoon, dressing, rolls, roasted veggies, etc. go in and out of the oven, and the last thing we do before dinner is put the potatoes through the food ricer! My favorite part 😀

    Hope that helps!

  • KaraHadley November 15, 2012, 6:15 pm

    We are in the EXACT same boat. I just moved into my first non-dorm place in May and I’m hosting an early Thanksgiving for 6 people this weekend. AND they’re all staying over. Luckily, my mother is bring serving dishes and spoons because we have none. My other advise, because we’re both Type A, is to make a spreadsheet. List out the food, the cooking dishes/utensils, the serving dishes/utensils, all the ingredients with a checkmark next to the ones you already have (so you know not to buy more or use up all that you have), and when it’s going to be cooked. I did this and it made me feel a million times more confident and CALM.
    I’m cooking a ton on the day before and serving things out of oven-safe dishes so I can just pop things back in the oven to warm up. Oh, and I’m not doing a fancy table setting that would require buying or crafting a lot of things (or having 6 matching plates). Instead I’m putting a roll of butcher paper down the middle of the table and setting out a few jars of crayons.
    Try not to worry too much. As long as the food is hot everything will be okay.

  • Jen November 15, 2012, 8:19 pm

    OMG that corn casserole is the same one my mom has been making for years! No matter the holiday, its always on the table. My brother, cousin, husband and I affectionately call it the ‘CC’ and everyone knows what we mean. The boys always fight over who gets to take the leftovers home!

    Good luck with cooking!

  • Amber K November 15, 2012, 10:03 pm

    I say, just remember that you are serving dinner for your beloved family. They won’t care if things are perfect or not. They will appreciate anything and everything you do. Remember to have fun and enjoy the company. 🙂

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