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HOSTING THANKSGIVING?? Your "Ten-Days-Out To Do" List

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, people!! If you’re hosting, here’s a quick checklist of things to take care of now, so that later you can focus on preparing your feast and enjoying your guests!

1. Get your turkey! I hear there may be a turkey shortage, so get to it! Either buy it frozen now, or order one—either fresh or pre-cooked. Also, now’s a good time to order a ham if you want one. To avoid a rush at the store, arrange to pick up items on the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

2. Buy fresh cranberries—Some grocery stores seem to be out of cranberries already, so if you’ll be making fresh sauce, best to buy a couple of bags now to freeze.

3. Get your knives sharpened. This is the beginning of lots of holiday cooking. Make your life easier by having sharp knives! You can go to a local dedicated knife sharpening business or try Sur La Table or Williams Sonoma. At the latter two stores, your first knife is sharpened for free, and they charge just $5 for each subsequent knife. Sometimes even farmer’s markets have someone who provides this service.

4. Outline your menu and figure out what dishes your guests have offered to bring.

5. Decide how to style your dinner table/s. This is my favorite part! We’re hosting twelve people this year, so that means two round tables of six each. I’ll need two tablecloths and two centerpieces. Traditionally I build my Thanksgiving table décor around orange linen tablecloths with natural linen toppers, brown placemats, gold napkins and seasonal chrysanthemums.

This year I want to go for a fresher color scheme. Keeping the tablecloths, toppers and placements, I’ll add green dinner plates topped with Thanksgiving-themed salad plates, homemade fringed white linen napkins tied with raffia and generous sprigs of garden thyme.

Centerpieces of white hydrangeas and Safari Sunset leucadendron with a few spears of bear grass in inexpensive 1-gallon glass jars, surrounded by a couple of fresh artichokes, a small Lenox fall-themed figure, and some acorns and dried leaves will add a simple but festive feel to our table.

6. Prepare your table linens. Inspect your tablecloth/s and napkins for stains, then wash and iron them if needed. (See my blog entry about making your own fringed linen napkins.) Or buy nice quality paper napkins.

7. Take stock of your glassware, dishes, flatware, serving pieces and chairs to be sure you have enough for all your guests. Consider your menu. Do you need extra soup bowls, salad or appetizer plates or even more seating? What about platters and serving bowls? A gravy boat? I just realized I’m short one wineglass. No worries now; I have plenty of time to replace it.

8. Dig out your turkey roaster, rack, baster, potato peeler and ricer, steamer—whatever tools you’ll need to prepare the meal. Make sure it's in good working order.

9. Clean out your refrigerator so you’ll have space for all your ingredients and leftovers.

10. If you’re making place cards or party favors, start now. These are nice additions, but you don't want to be working on these when you need to focus on shopping and cooking just before the feast! I’m making colorful little jars of pickled green beans (the last from our garden)for my guests to take home. (See my blog entry on pickled vegetables). I’ve already ordered the jars, labels, raffia and the spices. Since they last for about three weeks refrigerated, I’ll make them the Monday before Thanksgiving.


-Anchor Hocking Glass Heritage jars ($12 for a one-gallon jar)

-Safari Sunset Leucadendron is a sturdy multi-stemmed evergreen with reddish leaf bracts at the end of each stem.

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