pictured: OK, so this isn’t a Thanksgiving tablescape-you got me! Blogging hack-find an old photo on your phone and re-purpose it! This was taken a couple of summer’s a ago at a rewardStyle event in San Francisco.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite family holidays. I love waking up early, working out at the gym, and then helping my mom host Thanksgiving. When I was growing up, it was just my Mom and I. We never hosted Thanksgiving. We always went to my Grandmother’s house or my cousin’s house.
My family is big, so my Grandmother or my cousin had to do a LOT of work. They also had to do a ton of prep the day before in order to ensure Thanksgiving day went smoothly. My Grandmother cooked everything herself, but my cousin enjoyed a little help from her guests. We would all bring one dish to share, and to help ease her burden of hosting. She was very efficient, and had the best systems to make the day go smoothly. There were easily forty people at her house on Thanksgiving day, so I learned a few tips and tricks as a child at her house that I have brought into my adult life.
My great aunt hosted Christmas when I was a young adult, and she had a ton of tips and tricks I adopted as well. Now, as a married mother of three, I have taken my relatives tips and tricks, and incorporated them into my holiday hosting routine. I hope you like them, and I hope they help you too!
Thanksgiving Day meal hacks to save time
- Host a potluck! Does your aunt make the best mashed potatoes ever? Does your sister-in-law make a killer green bean casserole? Ask them to bring their famous dishes to your house on Thanksgiving because you love love love them; and can’t imagine Thanksgiving without their delicious dish! They will be flattered, and you just saved yourself a ton of work. Pro Tip: If your relative or guest is a chef, cook, or works in some sort of food prep, don’t ask them to cook and bring food. Just ask them to bring their favorite wine, soda, or juice. I’m certain he or she would not want to feel obligated to cook on his/her day off from work.
- Cheat on your dishes: Did you know that delicious green bean casserole other people always cook is actually made from green beans, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, and French’s crispy fried onions? Oh yeah, the recipe is on the French’s box and also on Campbell’s website. It is really easy to make, and it looks complicated. Same with stuffing. My great aunt once shared her super-secret stuffing recipe, guess what it was? Stove Top Chicken flavored stuffing in a box. It takes five minutes to make. You can add chopped apples, raisins, and/or mushrooms to make it beefier. Or, you can add anything you want to add to your stuffing! It tastes great baked inside the turkey, or served alone. Super easy right? No-one will know unless you forget to hide the box. Haha
- Prep the house the night before: Set the table, and clean the kitchen the night before Thanksgiving. Be sure to pull out all your big serving platters and place them where you can easily reach them. Line the pan you plan to bake the turkey in with aluminum foil the night before, and empty the dish rack in order to ensure a spotless kitchen. This way, the only thing standing in your way of cooking your Thanksgiving meal will be your breakfast dishes. Those are easy to clean! -Unless you start frying things, then you’re on your own.
- Prep the food the night before: It’s easy to do a little bit of food prep the night before Thanksgiving. You can chop vegetables and then store them in the refrigerator; you can also clean the turkey, place it in the pan, and store it in the refrigerator., You can even make casseroles the night before. I do not recommend making the mashed potatoes ahead of time-don’t even peel them early. Mashed potatoes need to be made fresh-sorry!
- Create a buffet: It takes forever to plate everyone’s food. Use your kitchen counter or other similar space as a buffet and let everyone serve themselves. It’s easier than waiting for people to pass dishes on the table, and it is way faster than plating the food yourself. Plus, who doesn’t love a buffet? I do!
- Clean as you go: Did everyone finish all the mashed potatoes? Quickly clean the serving dish it was in and place it in the drying rack. You can chat with your guests in the kitchen while cleaning it. Did you know it literally takes 30 seconds to wash one serving dish? If you let everything pile up during the day it could take 30 minutes to clean everything, but if you clean random pots and dishes throughout the day, your end-of-day clean-up will be minimal. If you are worried about disappearing in the kitchen to clean one dish, remember this; it takes more time to escape to the bathroom than it does to clean a dish. So don’t worry about it, no-one will even notice unless they are in the kitchen.
- Use paper products: Are you hosting more than twelve people at your home on Thanksgiving? Since most table settings are twelve, chances are you won’t have enough dishes for everyone; or you may not want to supplement your dishes with fine china. The easiest Thanksgiving Day meal hack is to use paper plates and disposable silverware. You can place a one-time use recycling bin and one-time use compost bin in your kitchen where everyone can throw away their scrapes, plates, napkins, and plastic silverware. This will eliminate cleaning dishes after everyone leaves, and you can wrap the bins up, and put them out with the recycling and compost. You will also feel good knowing you are recycling and composting instead of filling up a landfill. Love!
Low calorie soda alternative: I always feel guilty giving children and non-drinkers sugar heavy sodas during the holidays. So, my favorite hack, to avoid giving my guests diabetes, is to make a soda at home which ends up being under 50 calories. It’s really easy to make! You use one tablespoon of your favorite Torani syrup and add sparkling mineral water to the rest of the glass. Pro tip: I like to add a spoonful of vanilla syrup to sweeten the drink if I am using a fruit flavored syrup, it makes it taste more like soda-with a fraction of the calories.
Shop my low-calorie soda alternative and food cheats
Thanksgiving is a casual, family holiday which may include close friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone is relaxed on Thanksgiving and ready to pitch in! Also, don’t forget the most important thing on Thanksgiving, be thankful for what you have, and have fun!
Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for stopping by!