My craziest Super Woman Thanksgiving was right after I gave birth to our fourth child (under four) via c-section on Saturday, November 21st. I came home on Monday, November 23rd and ended up having a house FULL of people on the 26th. It was easier to host than to go anywhere with a newborn and a passel of toddlers, I thought. But that evening after all of our guests left, I sat down exhausted, shivering, and feverish with mastitis.
There had to be another way.
If you’re like me, the holidays are your favorite time of year. I start out excited about hosting Thanksgiving with promises that this year will be different…but in the sugar hazed days following Halloween, I realize that it is LESS THAN FOUR WEEKS AWAY. I remember my husband’s entire family is coming and staying at our house. And that we still haven’t finished our project list from last spring – and did I mention that my in-laws haven’t seen our new house and we want it to be perfect?! Throw in a few class parties, and the holidays go from exciting to overwhelming in no time flat.
Is there any hope for those of us who want a perfect Thanksgiving but don’t have the time and energy it takes? Is there a way for us to simplify all the chaos of the kitchen and spend more time with our families?
Tips for Simplifying Thanksgiving:
1. Make a list early – and divide it! Ask for help. Seriously. Put away your Wonder Woman costume on November 1st. No one expects you to clean your entire house, iron your table cloth, have personalized centerpieces, your family looking like a Gap ad and a full meal on the table.
Hosting? Ask everyone to bring a side dish and dessert – but remind them a week or two (and again a day or two) out!
Tight Budget? Make a list of “must buy” ingredients and space them out over the next few paychecks.
2. Cook your turkey early! You can cook, slice and freeze your turkey in its juices several weeks in advance. This will free up valuable oven space on Thanksgiving Day. Simply thaw it in the fridge the night before (in a pan just in case the bag leaks) and warm it up.
3. Prep sides a few days before. Family favorites like Green Bean Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, Corn Casserole, Broccoli Casserole, Macaroni and Cheese – all can be made two to three days in advance and kept refrigerated (or a few weeks in advance and frozen!). Remember to set them out an hour before you need to put them in the oven. Coolers (with ice) are GREAT for extra fridge space!
4. Cheat. Need to make gravy? Save turkey drippings and add store bought poultry gravy to it. Never cooked or carved a turkey? Youtube it! (Seriously. Saved our life when learning to carve!)
5. Make a schedule. Figure out what pans can (realistically) fit in your oven, the amount of time they need to cook, and make a list of what goes where when.
6. Designate a cleanup team. After all of that hard work, you need to rest before getting up early to shop!
7. Enjoy! You may never have these exact people around your table again. Embrace the chaos.
For other ways to simplify your time in the kitchen, contact Homemade in a Hurry – a meal prep service located in Derby. Their goal is to “take dinner off your plate” with ready to go meals!
Rebekah Williams is the owner of Homemade in a Hurry, a meal prep service located in Derby. She and her husband, Ben, are enjoying life outside of active duty military service, and stay crazy busy raising their seven children and a small army of animals. She is an avid supporter of adoption, and is thankful for the many things they learned during their time as foster parents. She is active in her church, wants to love exercise but really loves Mexican food, Mt. Dew and coupons, and has dreams of a beautifully labeled and organized home becoming a reality.