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Surviving Thanksgiving . . .

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Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching; is it your turn to host the holiday event of the season?
Each year it seems that many of our members are overwhelmed by relatives suddenly informing them that they will be the one hosting the annual Thanksgiving dinner. One of our members writes, "Every day, my mother calls me to inform me of several more guests that I will be having in MY home!"

While we'd love to think of this holiday as a wonderful family experience that we will reminisce about for years to come, here are some fool-proof recipes, hints and tips that will help maintain your sanity and your budget with so many mouths to feed.

Preparing the House for Company

Having company for an afternoon isn't a big deal, however, having company that may stay a night (or several) can be a harrowing experience.
The most important areas of your home when having guests are the Kitchen and Bathroom. Be sure to stock the bathroom with extra toilet paper (no one wants to hear Uncle Bob yelling for TP while they're watching the parade!), clean towels and soap.
This is a great time to take advantage of all of those great air freshener deals and place one in the bathroom!

If you have a lot of clutter and very little time to clean or go through it, consider getting a few boxes, loading the clutter into them and placing them in a closet, garage, etc that is out of sight until everyone has gone home. If you collect many porcelain items or other breakables and know that friends or relatives will be bringing young children, you might want to consider putting these items away as well.

If you have children, consider dividing up the household chores and giving them each a job to do, (such as cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, shoveling any pet droppings that might be on the lawn that could get tracked into the house!), sweeping the walkway, or washing windows (some kids actually LOVE this!).

Feeding a Small Army

Here are several suggestions for feeding a small army of relatives and friends.

1. Ask each guest to bring along their favorite dish- be it a dessert, side dish, homemade pickles, munchie items, etc. Be aware that some family members will think this is tacky or unacceptable, please also note, that no matter how much you try this Thanksgiving, those same members will probably not be pleased not matter what you do or how hard you work.

2. One thing that our family has done for years on thanksgiving is to create a Grazing table. The table generally contains a nice serving platter of various types of cut up veggies & dips, several different kinds of pickles (homemade or store bought), green olives, black olives, fruit salad, cubed cheeses, cranberry orange relish, cheese balls and crackers.
Currently, this is just a side counter between my kitchen and living room that I place a decorative table cloth, a pretty Tea Light Candle holder, and a few small decorations and then arrange the munchie foods around. Place some Small plates at one end, serving spoons in each of the dishes and let your friends and family "graze" while your main dinner is cooking. In years past I've used an old card table.
The grazing table will serve several purposes- it will keep unhelpful members of your family out of the way in the kitchen (because let's face it, the grazers probably aren't trying to help, they just want to stand in the way sampling!), it will prevent the kids from constantly asking "When are we gonna eat??", and it takes the edge off the long wait while the family is having a chance to catch up on the latest happenings, or enjoying the Macy's Parade.

3. Prepare as many dishes ahead of time as possible.

If you're anticipating overnight guests, make some cinnamon rolls or a French toast casserole that can be made ahead and frozen. When the meal is needed, simply toss it into the oven, (frozen!) and bake. This will give you a chance to not only enjoy a lovely homemade meal, but will also allow you to enjoy the company of your guests.

Items that can be made ahead of time that Freeze well include:

  • Biscuits
  • Yeast Dinner Rolls
  • Breakfast Casseroles
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Gravy
  • Various Fruit Pies- either whole or if you'd like to prepare the desserts the day of Thanksgiving, prepare the fruit filling ahead of time and freeze it in gallon size Ziploc bags or vacuum seal bags.

We deep fry our turkey every year, so the only thing I need the oven for on Thanksgiving is to bake biscuits/pies. However, if you plan to roast your turkey, you may want to bake your pies the day before.

Hubbard Squash (add a bit of butter, brown sugar, salt & Pepper- mash as you would potatoes)

Quick Breads- Pumpkin Bread, Banana Bread, Zucchini breads, etc (Freeze whole) take them out the night before thanksgiving, let them thaw on the counter, cut into slices and serve on the grazing table.

If you like to prepare lots of Various Vegetables, I highly recommend Green Giant Steamers. Recently I showed you how to get more than 12 bags for free. These can be tossed into the microwave, steamed to perfection, and dumped in a serving dish in less than 5 minutes, (Corn, green beans, Broccoli.)
Don't overlook the handiness of those veggie steamer bags too, in just minutes you can create a super fast delicious side dish such as Glazed Ginger Carrots. (Simply wash and cut some fresh carrots, add 1 Tbs Grated Fresh Ginger, 3 T. Spenda (or 2 T. Brown Sugar), 6 squirts of I Can't Believe its Not Butter, (or 2 T. Butter) and cook 5 minutes 30 seconds.) Prepare this up to 3 days ahead of time and leave the bag in the fridge until you're ready to cook it.

Other Items that can be Made Ahead of Time:

  • Instant Stuffing Mix
  • MYO Cranberry Sauce
  • Gravy Mix
  • Spiced Cranberry Cider Mix
  • Parmesan Herb Biscuit Mix
  • Cornbread Mix
  • Creamy Herb Rice Mix
  • Various Holiday Coffee Creamers Such as Pumpkin Pie Creamer Mix

View the Recipes here

Hang in there and remember, the point of this holiday is to enjoy the time with your family and friends, not stress about matching Martha Stewarts home.

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  1. jaime's Avatar
    Thanks a bunch!
  2. faxonfive's Avatar
    WOW Liss!!

    You and JoAnn have helped me alot with your posts!!! I am so grateful!! I am hosting the Thanksgiving party this year and Christmas is at our friends (marsplus1) so this is going to help alot!!! Thank you Thank you!!!

  3. mdowdy's Avatar
    Thanks so much for all your pointers.
  4. beansthemama's Avatar
    is it your turn to host the holiday event of the season?
    Oh honey every year is my turn! LOL Thanks for the great post!
  5. tsgal's Avatar
    Thanks for all the great posts. These really help alot. Some really good ideas.