It's gravy baby!
10 Tips for easy Thanksgiving Entertainment
Preparing Thanksgiving dinner-especially for the first
time-can be very intimidating. After all, the last thing you
want is to ruin the most congenial (and food-oriented) holiday
of the year for your family and friends. Treat Thanksgiving
like a big, fall-themed dinner party and make sure it reflects
your taste and entertaining style and you're bound succeed.
One word of caution, however, once you throw a great Thanksgiving
your friends and family will expect you to do so every year
until they ship you off to a nursing home.
Pre-planning is essential for a successful turkey day whether
you have 5 or 25 guests. Plan your menu at least a week ahead
of time; in addition to turkey you'll want at least 4 sides-stuffing,
starchy vegetable, green vegetable and cranberry sauce-plus
gravy, bread, and possibly a salad or appetizer and dessert.
Once you've decided what to make go through your recipes and
make a shopping list with quantities (always buy extra butter,
chicken stock and onions-you'll need them) and do as much
shopping ahead of time a possible. It is essential at this
stage that you do not change your mind or you will inevitably
wake up in a cold sweat on Thursday morning when you realize
you forgot to buy those special Lebanese pistachios for the
stuffing. Order a free range turkey from a reputable butcher
a couple of weeks in advance (at least a pound per person)
and arrange to have it delivered on Wednesday, if possible-you
will, of course, already have taken that day off from work
to cook, clean, and spruce up your place. Next, clean out
your fridge of all three-week old leftover Chinese food, and
other miscellaneous junk that takes up valuable refrigerator
real estate and you are good to go!
The following tips will go a long way
in making you feel in control and prepared once your guests
- Go through all your bowls and platters ahead of time and
plan what dish goes in what. If guests have offered to bring
things ask then to bring them in an appropriate serving
dish so you don't have to scramble at the last minute looking
for something to put it in. If you are having more than
10 people it's a good idea to send around two platters of
each item so it doesn't take so long for things to get around
the table. Also make sure you have enough plates, napkins,
wine glasses and silverware for all of your guests.
- For small apartment dwellersyou can set your table
or tables in the morning and move them into the bedroom
so that when guests arrive there's room to mingle. Recruit
a couple of strong friends to bring them out at dinner time.
- Bourbon is a great Thanksgiving drinkit's American
and it makes you feel warm inside. Serve bourbon and ginger
ale with a squirt of lemon or Manhattans before dinner and
a premium bourbon, neat, with dessert (it tastes GREAT with
pumpkin pie). Have sparkling wine and cider as alternative
- Buy enough booze. It's great to linger over dinner with
wonderful wine and people will often drink more than you
think is humanly possible. Buy a bottle per person and you'll
be fine. Zinfandel is an American varietal that goes well
- Don't serve too many pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres because
you want your guests to enjoy the meal. Choose finger foods
that whet the appetite such as spiced nuts, homemade pickled
vegetables or cheese straws.
- Mini pumpkins and gourds from a local farmers market
make cute decorations or place markers-write the guests
name on them with a permanent, metallic marker.
- Make as much in advance as possible. Make sure a couple
of dishes can be heated on top of the stove or you'll run
out of oven space.
- Stock up on tin foil for wrapping leftovers. Also, it's
nice to give your guests the all the fixings for turkey-stuffing
sandwiches to take with them.
- Invite someone who knows how to carve a turkey. Or learn
yourselfroast a big chicken for dinner the week before
and practice on that.
- Enlist close friends, relatives, and/or people who owe
you money to help you clean up. Or, better yet, hire someone
to come clean on Friday morning and enjoy your post-Thanksgiving
stupor at the movies.