Countdown to Turkey Day 2016: November 13, It’s Time to Get Serious

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Heather says

The late fall is typically one of the busiest times for me career-wise and yet I insist on dragging y’all through the preparation of hosting Thanksgiving Dinner?


Going through the steps helps make sure I don’t forget anything, either. Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year, when we get together and share with both our given family and the families that we make. This year Thanksgiving is an especially important holiday. I don’t want to get into details about the election, but I know that a lot of people are hurt, worried, and scared. I know that some people have and are reacting by lashing out. 

It sucks. (Don’t say suck*)

It’s going to be okay. I’ve had a couple of you point out that I screwed up editing old posts and left the old year on the post. I’m human, too. I am the author and the copyeditor. Sometimes I post before I’ve had a cup of coffee or after a glass of wine. 

Every holiday isn’t perfect. 

Maybe you’ll burn the gravy or this will be the year you forget to take the turkey out of the freezer on time. Maybe, more importantly, this is the year someone you loved will leave an place, if not at the table, but in your heart. Holidays can be stressful times of year, whether it’s because there are changes in your immediate family, your extended family, or circumstances beyond your control. 

May I suggest adding candles to your Thanksgiving table? You don’t need many, just one or two. Just a little reminder, if only for yourself, as the host that our job is to bring light into the the world. If the conversation turns to politics look at the candle, breathe, and redirect. 

Give a little grace before asking to say grace.

Back to getting ready.

This year, so far we’ve:

  • Decided when and where
  • Located the dining room table and extension(s)
  • Reserved chairs and place settings, if necessary
  • Created our Soft Thanksgiving Menu Plan
  • Begun working on getting the house company ready by paying attention to daily / weekly chores
  • Extended Invitations

Now it’s time to finalize your menu. Grab your Soft Menu Plan and a Google Spreadsheet. 

It’s time start figuring out the final Thanksgiving menu and your shopping list To do this, you need to know how many people are dining and a rough idea of their usual appetite. The list below accounts for average people and will help you decide how many servings you need of each Thanksgiving recipe.

If you are serving teenagers or relatives you already know are greedy increase the estimates.

(You know who you are, quit acting innocent. I may be thin, but I can put away the food when I want to and on Thanksgiving? I want to.)

I increase the dessert estimate just because it’s a holiday for Pete’s sake. These estimates work best for a formal Thanksgiving meal where everyone sits down and eventually people get tired of passing items.

If you’re serving your Thanksgiving dinner buffet style, definitely increase the gravy. I don’t know what it is about a buffet that makes people go nuts on the gravy, but that’s life.

Serving estimates for holiday meals:

  • Whole turkey* – 1lb turkey for each guest up to a 14lb bird. Anything larger, estimate 3/4lb per person. (The skeleton of the turkey weighs less proportionally in large birds).
  • Bone-in turkey breast – 2/3 lb per person
  • Boneless turkey breast – 1/2 lb per person
  • Dressing aka Stuffing aka Filling – 3/4 cup per guest, unless you serve the andouille sausage and shrimp cornbread dressing I’ll be posting today, then you might as well say 1 cup per.
  • Gravy – 1/3 cup per person go 2/3rds cup per for buffet style
  • Mashed potatoes – 1lb of potatoes for every 2 guests 
    If you are serving two kinds (roasted and mashed) estimate 1lb for every 3 – 4 guests
  • Cranberry relish / sauce – 1lb of berries for every 5 people who actually like cranberry sauce. And I hate to say it, but grab a can of the jellied cranberry sauce, if that has been a traditional item in your family. No one may touch it, but it could make someone’s day
  • Vegetables, including sweet potatoes – 1/2 cup per person of each type, unless you’re making the brussels sprouts with bacon recipe going up later this week, go ahead and call that a cup, too. People were giving each other dirty looks when that ran out.
  • Rolls – 2 per guest minimum
  • Rice – 1/2 cup per person
  • Dessert – 1 – 2 servings per guest

Some of the very dedicated choose to serve both turkey and ham. In that case estimate one pound of ham for every four or five people and 3/4 lb of turkey.

*If you love leftovers, as I do, increase your turkey estimate by 50%.

Once you have your spreadsheet open, list your recipes across the top, one per column. Under each recipe list the ingredients. If a recipe calls for apples, list the number after the ingredient apple x 3 or chicken stock x 2 qt. This won’t take up the whole spreadsheet.  This creates mini-shopping lists for each recipe.

Now, multiply or divide each of your recipe ingredient amounts as needed for your Thanksgiving Dinner.

On the lower half of the spreadsheet start new columns. I like to divide my list up by grocery store departments: butcher, dairy, dry goods, produce, etc. Cut and paste each item into the appropriate column combining when appropriate ie 2 apples for the dressing  + 14 for the pies = 16 apples.

Save and print your grocery list and don’t forget to shop your pantry before heading to the store. (This just means crossing off the items you have on hand). Don’t forget, if you rarely bake to test your baking powder to be sure it is still effective.

Check your spices, too.

Oh, and if you have a lot of company coming to stay, don’t forget extra toilet paper. Yes, it’s important, you’ll thank me later.

Don’t start shopping for produce, that’s not until the week of Thanksgiving. You don’t need your potatoes sprouting eyes.

*Don’t say suck comes from one of the best commercials I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not making money off your watching it, I just keep watching it, because it’s my house, only we have an extra kid.

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