How to Prepare a Thanksgiving Dinner
Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate our joys with friends and family. Unfortunately, if you are the person designated to cooking the holiday dinner, the joys can turn into complete and total fear. I'll never forget the first time I made Thanksgiving dinner for twenty family members and friends. I waited until the last minute to start and the dinner ended in a complete disaster. In the years following that failure, I have learned that preparing a Thanksgiving dinner is easy...if you plan ahead.
Eventually the day arrives when you are selected to prepare the Thanksgiving dinner. Don't panic. With a few hours of planning, your dinner can be a complete success. The key to pulling off a successful Thanksgiving dinner is to be sure no detail is left undone.
The first step is to decide who will attend. Knowing the number of people you will be hosting is imperative in the planning process. Someone will fail to RSVP, so always plan on an extra two to three people. Always try to give yourself at least two weeks before the event to get your final count. This time frame is important in determining table and chairs requirements or if you need to order the table and chairs from your local rental service.
If you decide to order table and chairs, always order at least one week in advance. Attending to this small step will give you the piece of mind that at least you will be able to seat everyone comfortably. At the same time, decide whether you have the linen to complete the table setting you are looking for. If you don't, consider renting linens at the same time as the tables. Most rental services offer discounts on the linen if you order the linens at the same time you order the table and chairs.
Once you have your final head count and have made your decisions on the table and chairs, the next step will be to decide your menu. I believe that the menu is where your success will be ensured. Take your time and consider all your guests. Be sure to be aware if someone is allergic to a specific meat or spice. Also, you probably know what your family's traditions are, so plan accordingly. If your family's tradition includes turkey and ham, try to keep to tradition as tradition makes everything go smoother. You can also add side dishes to enhance the meal and try to start new traditions.
Most Thanksgiving holiday meals include the traditional turkey, ham and prime rib. If you are having a large dinner party, I would suggest making all three. Preparing three different main dishes can be difficult, but as I mentioned above, planning is everything. Remember, if you have a small oven, you can always cook the ham a day in advance, roast the turkey on Thanksgiving Day and save the prime rib for the barbeque grill while the turkey is cooking.
The next step in meal planning is planning the side dishes. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Stuffing, Yams, Green Bean Casserole, Chili Casserole, Ambrosia, Dinner Rolls, Cranberry...