Thanksgiving Action Plan

Getting organized now will save a lot of trouble and headache when Turkey day arrives

By FamilyTime

 The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are busy ones -- and no matter how much we try, the holiday always seems to sneak up on us. What? Thanksgiving already? But it was just Labor Day, right? 

Here are some strategies for making the most of these weeks leading up to the big day.

Plan the Menu
Thanksgiving is the holiday for unexpected but welcomed guests. Make your guest list and double check with everyone. Try to discover if anyone is bringing an extra person.

Figure out what you and your guests like to eat verses a traditional family dish that never gets touched. Dropping a side dish will save you time and money. You can always reinstate it next year if you hear objections. Go to Spicing Up the Thanksgiving Menu.

Order your turkey NOW! If you have your heart set on a fresh turkey, order it as soon as possible. If you are buying a frozen turkey, buy it now -- you'll beat the crowds and it actually does take several days for it to thaw in the refrigerator. For more on buying and defrosting a turkey, go to How to Roast a Turkey.

Make a list of items that your guests can bring to help ease the burden. Think of dishes that travel well. Plan ahead for the serving platter or bowl you want to to use if not the one it arrives in.

Remember that you don't need to have guests bring food alone. They can bring wine, pretty paper napkins, and candles for instance. When they ask how they can help, be ready to be specific.

Plan Your Table
Pull out all your linens and count them. Is the tablecloth or runner large enough? Do you have enough napkins, place mats, and hot pads?

Now is the time to take dry-clean-only linens to the cleaners so you will have them back in time to set the table. Make sure all other linens are clean and pressed.

Give the same attention to dishware, glassware, and cutlery. A late-night run through the dishwasher will save you last-minute time if the "good stuff" is dusty.

Get a head start, too, on hand washing fine china and crystal. Are you using silver? This is a good time to enlist one or all of the kids to help polish!

Pull out your serving dishes, platters, bowls, and serving utensils and wash them. Cleaning them is time consuming and because they may be large and cumbersome, they command valuable sink and drain board room.

Jot down each course on a scrap of paper and put it with the appropriate serving dish and utensil. This will ensure you have enough. Do you have enough salt and pepper shakers, too?

Decide if the table is large enough or if you should borrow a card table from a neighbor or relation. Should you rent a table instead?

If you're going to use extra tables, check that you have extra linens as well. Make sure you have enough chairs.

Plan the Centerpiece Now
Order a floral centerpiece from the local florist now before they are over-run with requests. Determine a time to pick it up on Wednesday before Thanksgiving or arrange to have it delivered.

You can make your own centerpiece and decorations by collecting leaves, Bittersweet, sea grass fronds, and flowers now. Go to Decorate Your Thanksgiving Table.

Clean the candlesticks and decide what color candles you will use. Buy the candles now.

Enlist Your Family to Clean the House
Have the kids clean their rooms this weekend to ward off last-minute battles.

Tidy up the living room and family room by sorting through and discarding piles of magazines and newspapers. Reshelve books. Organize and put away bills and stray piles of paperwork.

Take time now to clear out coat closets. Stock the closet with extra coat hangers. If using a bedroom for coats, give it a good cleaning.

This weekend is also a good time to clean up the yard. Go to Preparing the Garden for Overwintering.

Kitchen Clean Up Made Easy
One of the most over-looked and under-rated chores is to clean and organize your kitchen before a large cooking event! Clear the countertops and work surfaces. Eliminating clutter now will speed up the cooking and baking process.

Assemble baking equipment and cooking tools - make sure they are clean and in working order and you have all the right sizes. If not, you have time this weekend to stock up.

Clean out the refrigerator! You will need all the room you can muster to store prepared dishes. Toss out whatever is old and make a list of everything you need to replace.

Serve up all the leftovers hanging around this weekend, and cook with what's there this week.

Don't overlook the freezer. You will need it for ice cream, ice cubes, and other items.

So much to do! Good planning makes it easier, but if you forget something, don't worry. As long as you have good friends and loves ones around the table, you have a lot to be thankful for.