This year, trying to plan Thanksgiving has been a little nuts, to say the least. Besides planning around Covid, my hubby and kids have insane work schedules. I honestly thought we’d be doing our Thanksgiving over the weekend after Thanksgiving day, so I even put our 11-pound turkey in the freezer. Then my son called on Sunday night wanting to know when we were doing our Thanksgiving dinner. After polling everyone, the only time we could do it was Monday night. In other words, I had 24 hours to pull off a Thanksgiving Feast and the turkey was in the freezer!
The first thing I did was have a slight panic attack, trying to figure out how in the world I was going to be able to do this. I couldn’t buy another turkey because those would be frozen too. Could I get the turkey thawed in time? Did I have all the ingredients? I needed to clean my house too. My head just started spinning. The next thing I did was a load of dishes. Yes, dishes. This way the sink was all clean and the turkey could take a dip for the next several hours to defrost.
Then I grabbed my Thanksgiving Planner and went through our menu and made a shopping list. Fortunately, I had already bought most of it the week before so I only had to pick up a few things. Next, I started ticking things off my Prep List. By the time I went to bed around midnight, the turkey was almost thawed and went in the fridge. Thankfully both of my girls wound up being off work on Monday. We ran errands in the morning and started cleaning and cooking by afternoon. It was a divide-and-conquer type of day! Even my son’s girlfriend jumped right in when she arrived! It was awesome!
Believe it or not, in 24 hours’ time, I got the majority of the house cleaned, food cooked, and the house ready for Thanksgiving. I even had time to take a shower! So how do you do it? How do you pull off a Thanksgiving Feast in a hurry? You make a plan!
Below are my tips for planning Thanksgiving in a hurry.
- Make a plan of action
- What absolutely has to get done? – Clean what will be seen and don’t worry about the rest. Think about what you really need to do and what is ok if it doesn’t get done.
- Menu- Write the menu down, even if it’s a simple one, or you’re ordering takeout, that way you don’t forget anything. Simplify it, or ask other family members to bring dishes. You don’t have to be the only one cooking.
- Shopping List – Make a list and take it with you. Divide the list between other people, like your hubby or your kids (teens, young adults).
- Guest List – You need to know exactly how many to prep for, even if it’s just a few and any special needs.
- Gather the troops
- Enlist your hubby and kids to help – Everyone should pitch in. Once you become 18 in our family you’re expected to bring something, even if it’s just a bottle of soda. Even little ones can help in the kitchen, but if you need to, get a babysitter for a few hours to get things done.
- Divide and conquer
- Divide chores around the house – Everyone pitches in and clean only rooms that guests will be in. Don’t sweat the other rooms unless you have time.
- Divide the shopping if needed, order from the store and send someone to pick it up, or have it delivered.
- If your children are old enough to help in the kitchen then conquer the cooking with all hands on deck.
- Cook the meal together when everyone arrives or at least finish cooking it together. We had the most fun with all of us in the kitchen making the sides. That’s how memories are made.
- Simplify the menu and decorating
- Do what you can do and don’t sweat the rest.
- Simplify your decorations. It’s ok if you don’t have place cards and every square inch of your home decorated.
- Trim down the menu, or ask everyone that is coming to bring part of it.
- Don’t have enough oven space, use the grill, your instant pot, air fryer, toaster oven, or borrow an oven roaster. Ask a neighbor to use their oven and bring them a slice of pie as a thank you.
- Order takeout – Make things easy on yourself. You’ll have more time to spend with your family and you won’t be as stressed. Serve it on pretty plates and bowls.
- You can defrost the turkey in the sink, it will take a few hours, but it can be done, depending on the size. You may not have time to brine it, but that’s ok. I don’t brine (Shh! Don’t tell!)
- Spatchcock your turkey to cook faster. (This is truly amazing!)
- Switch it up and cook something besides a turkey. (Gasp!)
- Remember they are coming to your home, not a restaurant and not a hotel. You are not an Air B&B. So do things that are comfortable for you and your family.
- Use a planner! (Like mine! Haha! Insert shameless plug here) But seriously, at the least make a checklist of everything you need to do and make, check and check again.
Remember, it’s Thanksgiving, and you want to make good memories. I know how stressful it is trying to make a Thanksgiving Dinner in a hurry. It’s a whirlwind of frenzy, but it still can be fun. If you have a plan, leave room for adjustments and have everyone that can pitch in help, then everything will turn out fine. Laugh over the things that don’t. I had to make the gravy twice! The first batch was not that good, so instead of stressing out, I dumped it. It would have been fine to not make more, but I had enough to try again and the second time worked great. The pan that the turkey cooked in dripped all over the floor and I could have freaked out, but the dog loved it and I just quickly cleaned it up and we had a good laugh.
I asked the kids to take a picture of the centerpiece for my blog and this is what I got. My kids put the chips in the centerpiece, I don’t know why, but it was funny and I totally forgot to take pictures for the blog. Oh well, we made great memories without the camera. I think this year especially, we just need to simplify, enjoy each other, and have a good laugh. Don’t make anything more stressful than it needs to be. Do what works for you and your family. Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!
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