Tuesday’s Tip: Easy Peasy Holiday Preparation Tip #4: Plan it out

November 23,2010
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

We’re in Week Four of my list of Holiday Preparation Tips, and it’s time for the last pre-Thanksgiving Day tip. Next week at this time we’ll shift into full-on holiday/Christmas mode, since we’re only about a month away from the big day. But for now, let’s finish the kitchen preparations for Thursday. Whether you are hosting a big or small dinner on Thursday, or traveling to someone’s home for the meal, it is a good idea to figure out now which serving pieces you will need to use. This is especially important if you are hosting a large gathering, but even sorting out which dishes you will need to transport your one special dish to a pot-luck is worth your time now. If you are hosting a meal, whether it is a dinner you alone are preparing and serving, or a pot-luck adventure, it is a good idea to plot out where and how you will serve each dish. First, designate an area in your home for each of the following purposes: preparation and cooking areas (obviously, in your kitchen, but you might want to subdivide your kitchen into “zones” if you are short on space), a place to serve or plate the food and a spot for drinks. Once you have figured out where you will generally place each prepared food or drink item, get more specific. Take each dish you intend to use for serving or a scrap piece of paper to designate their spot on your table or buffet. After you do this, you can go even further and place a serving spoon or fork near it too. My mom is a veteran of hosting Thanksgiving, hosting nearly 3 decades worth of large gatherings at our home when I was growing up. Usually we have around two dozen folks at our home, and lots of dishes to juggle in our fairly modest kitchen and dining room. I used to sort of roll my eyes at her planning technique. However, like so many things with growing up, now that I too am a mom, I realize her wisdom. Oh, and one last tip that has served our large family gatherings well: don’t forget to use your slow cookers in a pinch. One year we had no less than 4 slow cookers keeping sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cooked corn and stuffing warm on the “low” setting. They basically served as make-shift food warmers for our family buffet. And with these last few tips, I wish you the warmest of Thanksgiving dinners. I’ll be back after the turkey holiday to share some tips to help de-stress December. Happy Thanksgiving! SPC