Planning and preparation are the two P's that are key to a perfect Thanksgiving. Check out The Countdown page that will help you create a timetable, starting a month out. It includes tips on purchasing the bird, shopping for shelf-stable items, table set-up and decorating, and great make-ahead foods. It will keep your grocery lists smaller and easier to manage - and your mind more organized! - as the holiday approaches.
Preparing the entire meal may seem a little overwhelming. Consider handling the main items (turkey, mashed potatoes and green beans) and ask your guests to bring a side or dessert to round out the meal. You can even suggest a few recipes, such as: Cheesy Stuffed Butternut Squash, Carrot & Parsnip Gratin, Watergate Salad, Cider-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Almonds or Apple-Pecan Cheesecake.
Seasonal fruits not only make great desserts, but they can also make beautiful harvest centerpieces for your Thanksgiving table. For a monochromatic theme, choose fruits that are of a similar color palate and place in a large bowl. For example, orange is a warm and festive color for the season. Gather small orange gourds, tiny pumpkins, oranges and kumquats. Arrange in a large bowl with some fresh greenery and voila!...a simple, yet sophisticated, centerpiece.
Simple garnishes can take your Thanksgiving table from everyday to elegant. Here are a few easy ideas:
- Cut lemon slices with a small slit from the center out to the rind and slip onto the side of each water glass.
- Create a name plate for each guest's place setting. One simple idea is to pick small bunches of crab apples, then use twine to tie a name plate to each bunch. Set in the center of each plate or just above each plate for a formal seating arrangement.
- Fall leaves are not only beautiful, but FREE! Gather leaves in advance and press between waxed paper and books. Once pressed and dried, they make a great addition to centerpieces. Or just lay them randomly down the center of your table for a bit of harvest color.