American families celebrated Thanksgiving this past week and the weekend after Thanksgiving is a time when many families begin preparing and decorating for Christmas. Although the big meal is over, there are a few easy tips you can incorporate in your planning that will help you improve your hosting skills each year.
Tip 1: Hosting dinners like Thanksgiving requires a lot of work and organization. To keep myself organized, I keep a copy of all the recipes I use in a plastic folder, together with a typed list of the ingredients I will need for groceries. The week before Thanksgiving I take an inventory of non-perishables in my pantry that need restocking, and cross off anything that I don't need to purchase.
Tip 2: I make versions of my Thanksgiving dinner two or three times a year. We usually have turkey at Christmastime, and perhaps once or twice more during the year. Regardless, it's not often enough to remember what works and what doesn't. I keep a little notebook with my plastic folder to keep notes, or I'll make a note on my recipe when I've made an adjustment. For example, I like to brine my turkey and last year I found a brine at my local grocery store (Harmon's) that called for soaking the turkey for 24 hours. However, I felt it was too salty so I made a note to reduce the time to soak to 12 hours. It turned out much better this year!!
Tip 3: Part of what I cherish about Thanksgiving is the time-honored traditions of family, and that means making grandma's dressing, yaya's yams, Tess's flapper pie, etc., but I also like to add my own personal flare. This year I baked my dressing in an angel food cake pan and it looked beautiful as well as tasted delicious. If you see or think of presentation ideas make a note, rip out a picture from a magazine, or take a picture, and put it with your folder for future reference.
Tip 4: No need to panic if you need an appetizer in a hurry. Here is a tip for a quick and delicious appetizer that looks as beautiful as it is tasty. Fill celery sticks with a prepared green onion cheese ball with almonds purchased from your grocery store. No need to stir or mix it, just use a butter knife to slice a small section and spread it across the celery sections.
Tip 5: So before you get too involved with preparing and decorating for Christmas take a few minutes to gather copies of your recipes together and put them in a folder, and jot down anything you'd like to remember for next year. Remember to put your grocery list in the folder - it really saves time!
Here are a few more pictures of my table for Thanksgiving this year. I didn't get a picture of the kids' table, but they had a great time together!
And that fast it's over...
and on to the next. I have my Christmas decorations up and will be sharing them this week.
Have a great week!