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Holiday feasts are a magical time, but they can also be packed full of stress when trying to plan the perfect meal that pleases everyone. These tips will help you keep your sanity while saving time and headache during the busiest holiday festivities!
Buy A Smoked Turkey or Ham
My number one timesaver is to buy a smoked turkey. Since it’s smoked, the cooking process is pretty much already done for you!
It’s effortless to simply heat according to the directions and present to the table. Plus, the flavor of smoked turkey is incomparably delicious.
We buy our Thanksgiving turkey and our Christmas smoked ham from Burger’s Smokehouse each year. I’m obsessed with the quality of their meat, and their amazingly fast shipping time. I mean, for real.
Ever since we lived in Puerto Rico for three years, and now living in Alaska, I’m used to waiting forever for deliveries.
Not with Burger’s Smokehouse. I’ve had fantastic shipping times even when coming all this way. The turkey and ham are frozen and packed with ice, and have been delivered perfectly every year.
Clean Out The Fridge Ahead of Time
I mean, we all gave Tetris a shot as kids, but we don’t need to be brushing off those space maneuvering skills on Thanksgiving Day!
Take the time to clean out your fridge and you won’t have to worry about where to fit the turkey, vegetables, or side dishes during crunch time.
Make A Meal Plan In Advance
This seems like a given, but actually taking the time to make a meal plan the week before allows you to stock up on all the ingredients you need.
That eliminates last minute grocery store runs when that time could be much more useful for actually cooking or cleaning to get ready.
Plan Sides That Can Be Made Ahead
Some side dishes are actually even better when made in advance, because the flavors have time to meld. Classic green bean casserole is a perfect example of one that could be prepped the day before.
Even better, if you have a recipe card with the instructions, it’s easy for others to do the prep work for you!
Let Others Help You
There’s no need to martyr yourself for the sake of a perfectly planned holiday feast. If you’re having visitors, chances are, when they ask if there’s anything they can bring, it’s because they want to help!
Why not take them up on the offer and have them bring a side dish or dessert?
Even if your dinner party is close family, there are plenty of dishes that are easy for others to follow with decent instructions.
Assign older kiddos and spouses to handle a specific part of dinner and take the stress off yourself. It’s important for you to enjoy the day as well!
Print Recipes and Hang Them On Cabinets
Fumbling around with an iPad while trying to make dinner is an exercise in frustration and a grimy, yucky device.
Print (or hand write) your recipes onto paper, then tape to cabinet doors. That will keep you from messing up your phone or tablet, and make it easier to follow recipes!
Buy Pre-Cut Vegetables
While I’m usually all about saving money, I’m happily willing to spend a bit for convenience. Especially on such high-pressure days like Thanksgiving or Christmas.
If you’re planning to add roasted carrots, halved brussel sprouts, or chopped onion to your holiday meals, consider buying them already chopped or diced to save time.
Utilize All Available Cooking Appliances
Not everything will fit in the oven at the same time, especially with a giant turkey.
Plan your oven to stovetop dish ratios and nail down the timeline so you aren’t stuck with one dish rapidly cooling while waiting for others to finish cooking.
That said, if you do have to take something out earlier than the rest, cover with aluminum foil, wrap with a towel to preserve the heat, then pop back in the oven for 5 minutes before serving.
Also utilize other appliances to make parts of the meal. Mashed potatoes are perfect in the crockpot, while there are plenty of sides and dessert recipes that use an Instant Pot.
Organize Serving Dishes and Utensils
Getting close to the finish line and realizing you need one more serving dish is annoying, isn’t it?
Eliminate that headache by planning out your serving dishes and utensils the day before to make sure you have enough.
Fill a Cooler With Drinks
Having drinks readily available keeps guests from wandering into the kitchen and searching around for a glass of wine or soda.
Fill a cooler with an assortment of drinks and ice and place in an easily accessible location so they can stay hydrated and out of the thick of things going on in the kitchen.
Use an Ironing Board for Extra Counter Space
Suffering from a too-small kitchen with zero remaining counter space? Pull out an ironing board and cover with a cute tablecloth for an impromptu serving station!