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Quick tips for a stress-free Thanksgiving dinner prep

Not much time left until Thanksgiving! That leaves you with lots to do and not much time to do it! Follow these quick meal planning tips to help make Thanksgiving dinner memorable.

Thanksgiving hostess

You know the holidays can be stressful. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, your stress level could double. If you follow these quick tips and some basic prep, you can help ensure your holiday festivities are fantastic!

Make a list and, yes, check it twice

A week (or two) before Thanksgiving, gather up the recipes you’ll use for the big day and read them carefully. Make a shopping list of all the items you’ll need to make your feast. Be sure to determine if you have all the pots, pans and utensils you’ll need, too. If you don’t, you might consider borrowing items. Check out this list of essential utensils to make Thanksgiving dinner prep a snap!

Add a head count to your list, too. Sure, Cousin Tiffany might instead opt to go to her boyfriend’s house for dinner at the last minute, but at least you’ll have a general idea of how much you’ll need to make for your dinner.

Don’t forget to ask your guests if they have dietary restrictions and plan accordingly. For those with gluten sensitivities, consider this gluten-free pumpkin pie recipe. Your vegan guests (and everyone else!) will enjoy these vegan Thanksgiving recipes. Be sure your vegetarian options are thought out and enjoyable rather than just a salad. Try some of these vegetarian Thanksgiving goodies!

Lists will be a big help to keep you organized.

Timing is everything

Go back to your recipes and check them yet again. This time, figure out cooking times for each of your dishes so you know what to put in the oven (or fridge or salad bowl) and when and how much time you’ll need to cook or prepare each dish. Be sure to look for things that you can make ahead of time, like cranberry sauce. Try any of these cranberry sauce recipe options — delicious!

Also, if you’re making pies, make the dough the week before Thanksgiving and freeze it until you’re ready to use. Then you’ll only have to prep the other ingredients, roll out the pie crust and bake! You’ll love this recipe for an easy homemade pie crust.

Delegate, delegate, delegate

If you’re having guests, chances are they’ll offer to bring something. Take them up on it! Even though your family loves your mashed potatoes the best, your guests can still contribute without taking on the beloved taters!

Ask your guests to bring things you still need, like the beverages, ice or an appetizer. That will help free up your valuable time and still allow your guests to contribute.

Appetizers are a great distraction to keep your family and guests sidetracked (and satisfied) from asking, “Is it ready yet?” Try to have a few of these appetizers on hand:

Don’t forget to delegate some of your housecleaning, too! A few days before the big day, assign each person in the family a cleaning task so you’re not fussing and fretting about dusting the living room at the last minute.

Decorate for the holidays

A warm and pretty setting can be the crowning glory to your big meal. Make a plan to ensure you have at least a few easy ideas to help make your home and table inviting. This can range from something easy, like gathering a few pumpkins and gourds together in different spots, to creating a pretty centerpiece.

These are things you can plan for in advance and put together a few days before Thanksgiving dinner. Involve your family in the fun, too! For some ideas, take a look at these easy, festive decorating tips.

Safety first

What could be worse that being sick (or injured) at a time of celebration? Sure the flu can sometimes get you at a bad time, but we’re talking about illnesses and injuries that are preventable. Be sure to follow good food handling and cooking practices and you’ll definitely minimize your chances of missing out on dinner for all the wrong reasons.

Check out some of the Thanksgiving dinner safety tips to follow, along with reading up on food safety myths and info on how to prep safely at home.

Just about everyone looks forward to Thanksgiving. If you’re hosting the big dinner, avoid the stress and do what you can to plan in advance and prep safely for a wonderful holiday. It’s a time to enjoy yourself and your loved ones!

Try these Thanksgiving recipes

Gourmet mashed potatoes
Homemade rolls and bread
Scrumptious Thanksgiving sweet potato recipes
Healthy Thanksgiving side dishes

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