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Your Guide to Planning a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to relax, watch football, eat till you (almost) feel sick, and just be thankful for what you have- that is if you aren’t hosting Thanksgiving. If you have ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner at your house before you probably know that the experience can be the opposite of relaxing. And if it is your first year hosting the festivities at your house I imagine you are probably already stressing out over the guest list, menu, decorations and everything else that goes into planning a food-abundant party.

Thankfully (pun completely intended), Meg Galvin from SparkPeople Blogger has created a “Stress-free Thanksgiving Planning Guide” complete with weekly preparation steps to help Thanksgiving dinner hosts enjoy the holiday as much as their guests do. She advices beginning planning three weeks prior to the holiday, so if you haven’t already begun doing so than you should get on that ASAP!

Here is what you should have already done:1. Make a guest list of family and friends you wish to include2. Send invitations and ask people what they plan to/can bring 3. Once you know how many people will be attending, take an inventory of all the china, glassware, serving dishes, and silverware you own (don’t worry about everything matching!)4. Choose your decor; including napkins, candles, tablecloths, and fall related decorations.

What you should start doing this week:1. Finalize your menu2. Shop for all non-perishable items3. Pick your turkey (fresh versus frozen)4. Make and freeze a meal for yourself for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving

Meg’s Turkey tips:If you plan on buying a frozen turkey, get it now. Avoid buying any turkey over 15 pounds because the bigger the turkey, the older it is*

What to do the week of Thanksgiving:1. If you bought a frozen turkey, thaw it out. Make sure there is room in your refrigerator and use a large pan to catch any juice that escape as it thaws. For every four pounds the turkey weighs, allow 1 day of thaw time.2. Clear out or eat any leftovers to make plenty of room in the fridge3. 2 days ahead: make any desserts and clean the house4. The day before: -Prepare side dishes that can be held over night -Pick up any last minute items such as rolls or ice -Figure out how long you’re going to need to cook your turkey for -Set out all serving dishes and utensils -Chill beverages5. The day of: -Clean bathrooms 5 hours before: rinse and pat turkey dry, put the bird in the oven, and run the dishwasher 3 hours before: begin to assemble side dishes and set up the carving board2 hours before: set up dessert table 1 hour before: set up beverage table, check turkey 30 minutes before: bake rolls and make gravy 15 minutes before: carve your turkey

Then give yourself a pat on the back because you just prepared and cooked an awesome Thanksgiving meal and now it is time to enjoy yourself with your food and guests! Worry about the mess later…

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