The holiday season is quickly sneaking up on us. This time of year always promises good tidings, but it can also bring a little bit of stress. Let’s face it: In addition to joyful hopes, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day come with certain responsibilities, especially if you’re hosting a holiday party.
The first big gathering is Thanksgiving, which falls on November 26 this year, just a couple weeks away. If you’re in charge of Thanksgiving dinner, we’ve pulled together a meal preparation list to help lower your stress levels and make sure you and your dinner guests wake up on Black Friday happy, satisfied, and ready to shop (or otherwise enjoy the day).
First Things First
- Finalize your guest list ASAP. You can’t know how much food you’ll need until you know how many people you’re serving.
- Set your menu. You can choose and make every dish yourself (and/or accept requests from your guests), or you can ask guests to pitch in. Get your menu settled as quickly as you can, and make sure each dish preparer knows how many people to serve. Remember: Everyone loves Thanksgiving leftovers (of certain dishes), so factor that into the assignments as needed.
- Create a shopping list. Check your cupboards to see what you have on hand and what you need to buy, then break down your shopping list by perishables (foods that need to be refrigerated) and non-perishables: baking staples, like flour and sugar; table settings, glassware, and cleaning supplies; party decorations; and more.
Two Weeks to Go
- Order your turkey(s). Head to Sam’s Club to choose from Diestel Oven Roasted, Free Range Premium Turkey, Butterball Deep Fried Turkey Breast. If you want leftovers, the rule of thumb is 2 pounds for each adult and 1 pound for each child; a 24-pound turkey will therefore serve 12 adults, or 10 adults and 4 kids, or 9 adults and 6 kids, and so on.
- Buy drinks and non-perishables. Getting these well ahead of time will scratch a couple things off your to-do list. Stock up on your guests’ favorite beverages. At Sam’s Club, you can save on a wide range of drinks, including cranberry juice, bottled water, sodas, beer, wine, and other spirits. You can also find plates, silverware, home decorations, napkins, trash bags, and all the containers you need to freeze your dishes beforehand and wrap up the leftovers afterward.
- Prepare storage space. Create room in your refrigerator and freezer for the food you’re about to make. Longer-lasting fridge items can be safely stowed in iced-down coolers.
- Get and freeze some side dishes. Certain foods — potatoes, dips, rolls, pies, and more — can be made or purchased beforehand, frozen, then heated on Thanksgiving Day. Preparing these in advance will free up time down the road.
One Week to Go
- Plan your cooking time and seating chart. Calculate how much time you’ll need to prepare all your dishes, and create a schedule that gets everything done by your chosen dinner time. Also, decide who sits where, based on the guests’ personalities and histories.
- Get your turkey(s). Give yourself plenty of time for defrosting.
Three Days to Go
- Thaw your turkey(s). Just a reminder ….
- Purchase your perishables. Buy all your salad and other vegetable fixings, along with anything else that can’t be frozen or purchased well beforehand.
Two Days to Go
- Get your baked goods moving. Defrost pies and other dough, or start prepping if you plan to make them all fresh.
One Day Left
- Make your pies, rolls, and other desserts.
- Buy ice. If you’re using coolers for drinks, make sure they’re equipped.
- Prep your side dishes. Get your stuffing ready; heat (or reheat) your soups, then cool them and store them in the fridge; prepare your salad greens.
- Follow your plan. You’ve already figured out your cooking schedule; stick to it.
- Chill your drinks.
Save on Thanksgiving Needs at Sam’s Club
From turkey and all the trimmings to plates, home decorations, and more, Sam’s Club can help you save on all your Thanksgiving purchases. Better yet, Sam’s Club is one of the retailers in FreeShipping.com’s network, so you can save even more!
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Where are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year? What are your favorite Thanksgiving preparation tips?