The Thanksgiving countdown is on. Although the traditional Thanksgiving planning timeline starts a month before the big day, it’s never too late to begin Thanksgiving planning.
If your main course is turkey, you’ll find help at the Butterball website. Tweet @Butterball, search the website or call the Turkey Talk-Line at 1-800-BUTTERBALL FREE. Be sure to allow at least one day of thawing time in the fridge for every 4 pounds if you choose a frozen turkey.
Thanksgiving Planning and Tips
The first step is deciding who to invite and whether you’re serving lunch or dinner. Check with other family members to determine a time that works for all. This is especially important with large families or grown children.
Next, it’s time to plan your menu. Choose a traditional menu with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, rolls and pumpkin pie or go Southern style with ham instead of turkey.
Southern cooks often serve turkey and ham, as well as a variety of veggies, hot bread and made-from-scratch pumpkin pie, pecan pie and other mouthwatering desserts. Sweet potato casserole matches up perfectly with ham.
Make your planning easy with a potluck Thanksgiving. Assign side dishes and desserts to bring or ask each family to bring their favorite side or dessert item while you provide the main course.
If your guests have several places to go, a Thanksgiving open house may make more sense. Instead of serving a big dinner with all the fixings, opt for heavy appetizers served buffet style.
After you decide whether your meal will be served buffet style or as a traditional sit-down dinner, it’s time to plan your decor. Fresh flowers make a nice centerpiece for any occasion.
Visit your local craft store or dollar store for supplies for a cute DIY centerpiece. Pick up a cornucopia and let the kids add plastic fruit, veggies and flowers for an easy centerpiece.
Use favorite fall-color table covers or create a gratitude tablecloth. Start with a white or light-colored tablecloth and let each guest and family member write something they are grateful for on the tablecloth.
If you like the gratitude idea but don’t want to write on the tablecloth, pick up fabric leaves from the craft store or cut leaf shapes from construction paper. Let family members write their gratitude leaves in the days before Thanksgiving and let guests add their leaves on Thanksgiving.
Have a plan to keep the kids busy on Thanksgiving. Older kids may want to help in the kitchen, while younger kids can make cute Thanksgiving decorations or create turkey cookies for dessert.
Fresh veggies or fruit can be easily arranged to make a cute Thanksgiving appetizer. Put the teens and ‘tweens in charge of creating a turkey-shaped appetizer. You’ll find DIY crafts and fun food recipes on my Thanksgiving Pinterest board.
Watch the grocery store sales for turkey or ham. If you’re cooking a frozen turkey, allow several days for thawing. Shop for Thanksgiving perishables the week of the holiday. Avoid the crowds by hitting the store early in the morning or late in the evening.
It’s easiest to make desserts a day ahead of time so you can devote your attention to the meal. If others aren’t bringing side dishes, use crockpots for some of your sides. Some sides can be prepped in the morning to be ready to pop in the stove at the last minute.
Don’t Forget the Photos
The trend of hosting “Friendsgiving” dinner has grown exponentially among millennials and more people are sharing their photos through social media than ever before.
Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving with family or gathering with friends for a Friendsgiving feast, capture the moment with photos. Skip the poorly lit food photos and awkward group shots this year. These tips from Nikon and Nikon Ambassador and professional photographer Tamara Lackey will help your Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving memories match the joy of the moment.
Lighting is everything for food photos. Get your dish into some decent light before snapping a photo to avoid an unappetizing orangish glow and glare. Window light is great.
For photographing food, try shooting from above; either get higher up or use a Vari-angle LCD screen, like on the Nikon D5500 DSLR.
To make your food photos really pop, try using a macro len. If you don’t want to pull out a tripod, be sure to hold your camera steady when shooting that close up
When photographing the family at the table, take a moment to pull everyone over to one side of the table to avoid that awkward shot of big heads in front and little heads down the line
Look for those in-the-blink-of-an-eye reactions to gifts and surprise treats around the holidays. The best way to capture an expressive moment is to hold the shutter half way down, focus on your subject and then click as soon as you see the reaction you would like to keep forever!
Lastly, remember: candid photos at the holidays are great, but just remember nobody will say thank you for an image you took of them chewing. Those are great times to put the camera down and simply enjoy the meal
Caring for Silver
While you may not pull out every piece of your grandmother’s silver, certain pieces hold treasured family memories. Before you place valuable heirlooms out for guests to enjoy, make sure they shine like never before so your guests can focus on making new memories with items that transcend time, instead of focusing on tarnish marks and stains.
To help with your holiday prep, we’ve included some tips below from Tarn-X that will quickly and easily restore your valued holiday heirlooms to their original glow.
Spruce it up: There is no need to spend tons of time polishing family heirlooms. Use Tarn-X Tarnish Remover to revitalize any silver, platinum, copper, gold or diamonds you plan to bring out for the holidays. Tarn-X removes tarnish quickly and easily—all you have to do is wipe and rinse.
Clean eating: Most holidays are centered around food and lots of it! Don’t serve your guests with spotted, dull silver–before your special holiday meal, revitalize your silver serving ware with Tarn-X Silver Polish, perfect for even the finest of silvers.
Sparkling stones: The holidays provide the perfect opportunity to bring out your special jewelry. Make sure your bling is sparkling brighter than the New Year’s Eve ball. To get your gold, silver, platinum, diamond, precious and semi-precious stone jewelry up to holiday par, use Tarn-X Jewelry Cleaner, which removes film and build up.
Cleaning Thanksgiving Messes
Whether you need help with home cleaning or handyman services, let your home shine with a little help from Handy. Here are some tips from Handy for cleaning up Thanksgiving messes.
Mashed Potato. Scrap off any remaining mashed potato using a knife and run the fabric (inside out) under cold water. Apply a small amount of dishwashing soap and rinse under water. The soap and water should help remove the grease from the mashed potato. Apply some Enzyme Laundry Detergent on the stain and soak it in cold water for 30 minutes. The larger the stain, the longer it should soak. Finally, wash the article of clothe in the hottest setting allowed by the fabric. If the stain is still there after going through the wash, repeat the process before drying.
Gravy Stains. Gravy stains are inevitable during Thanksgiving. The sooner you begin removing the stain, the better chance you have of getting it off your clothes. Start by scraping off the gravy from the material. Apply a small amount of liquid dishwashing soap and rinse the area well. Before putting the article in the washer, apply the stained area with a laundry prewash stain remover. Wash the article in the hottest water allowed, using bleach if the article allows. Before you put the article in the dryer, check to make sure the stain was removed. If not, repeat the process before throwing it in to the dryer.
Cranberry Stains. Because it causes red stains, cranberry stains should be removed as soon as possible. Start by rinsing the area with cold water, being careful not to spread the stain further. Let the stain soak for about 15 minutes in a solution made from half a teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent, a tablespoon of white vinegar, and a quart of cool water. Rinse the stain in cold water (if the stain still appears, apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol), then wash in the hottest water the fabric will allow to get out the stain. Before putting in the dryer, make sure to check the stain is gone after washing, if not repeat
Pans. A dirty pan can be a major hassle to clean. One easy tip to make your cleaning easier is lining your pans with aluminum foil. Once you put away the leftovers, just rip the foil off and throw it away. Give the pan a quick rinse and put it away.
Trash Cans. There is sure to be a large amount of garbage after cooking for the whole family. Triple line your trash can to make it easier and quicker to have a clean empty bin when the first bag is removed.
Tips for the Big Day
On Thanksgiving Day, allow extra time for your turkey and plan for the turkey to be ready an hour before mealtime. Work backwards, setting the time for your meal and planning for your sides to be ready 30 minutes before mealtime.
Ask for help in the kitchen to avoid burnout and allow time to relax with family and friends before clean-up begins. Thanksgiving is all about gratitude so be sure to give thanks for spending time with those you love.