Placing the turkey amidst a buffet of delicious looking dishes, she happily quipped, “No! It was already stuffed – it came that way!”
And all the people rolled in the floor as she pulled the neck and giblets out of the turkey cavity.
Do the thoughts of cooking a turkey overwhelm you? If “table for 15-20” makes you want to run away and bury your head underneath your couch cushions until after the holidays, maybe you’d better read this.
I used to be afraid of turkeys too. Several years ago, we felt it might be best if we held Thanksgiving dinner at our home.
So I bought a turkey, read the directions on the back, and the rest is history!
You can do this, mama. I got your back. C’mon, let’s get cookin’!
You can serve Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd simply with these 7 easy tips! Click To Tweet
1. Plan the meal
Now is when I usually dig out my list from last year. No list?
Time to make one!
The biggest thing to remember is that people have their favorites on Thanksgiving Day, so don’t mess with their favorites.
Do that, and you will be cooking for one next year.
(Unless that’s your strategy.)
Take a poll and find out what everyone wants to eat.
2. Divvy up the dishes
Who is going to make all this food?
Oh no, honey.
You’re sharing this load.
Ask Aunt Hazel to bring the corn pone and Cousin Sue the green beans. Most people will be willing to bring something (mine do) so give yourself a break and let them!
You don’t have to be a martyr. Get those reinforcements in there.
Here’s what our dinner looks like:
Holiday mashed pots
sweet pot cass
7 layer salad
another type salad
coconut cream pie
one other dessert
So these are our family favorites. Does your list look anything like it?
(Does anyone else use the abbreviation, “mashed pots”?)
3. Decide on the dishware
Personally, I like feeding my tribe on my nice dishes, but it does make for a heap of clean-up afterwards.
Lucky for me, I have three daughters and a dishwasher.
But you can also buy sturdy plastic dishware at Sam’s with turkeys on it.
We did this one year, and it did cut down on clean up. We also ate on turkey plates until Easter because you know, Sam’s doesn’t sell 20 of anything.
If you want to save yourself the headache of so much clean up, and if it is your first time, maybe you should consider your plastic options.
4. Decide on a table scape
Here’s my table scape: one autumn colored, leaf decorated table cloth.
I never do much with this because – well, frankly, I just don’t. Sandra Lee would be very disappointed in me, probably.
However, now that we’re discussing it, I could throw in a candle or two or maybe a fold-out paper turkey.
I think I’ll take a trek around the house and see what I can gather.
There are many fun, simple ideas on Pinterest, so check it out and have fun with it – but don’t stress.
It’s ok if you just have a leaf table cloth. Your family will still love you.
5. Buy food and supplies at least a week in advance
I always do this because I hate crowds.
And honey, if you wait until Thanksgiving week to go grocery shopping, you are gonna be in the thick of it.
Watch the sale ads for turkeys, the stores usually mark them down around this time of year. Click To Tweet
For 20 people, you will probably want a 40 pound turkey, but you can use this nifty tool by Butterball to calculate how much you’ll actually need, proportionate to children verses adults.
Keep in mind that if it’s frozen, you’ll need to set it in the refrigerator to thaw for about five days. (It’ll tell you on the back of the turkey how long, and also how long it takes to roast.)
If you get a turkey with a pop-out thermometer, this saves you on guess-work as to whether or not it’s done, but if you don’t, just be sure to have a meat thermometer on hand.
This link will show you how to check the temperature of your bird.
6. Serve buffet style
We clear all counters plus the island in order to serve this way, and it works well for us. (Might want to set aside some time the week before to declutter any counter space in preparation.)
Everyone gets to interact during the buffet line and this is where general mayhem and chaos prevail, but it’s better than passing heavy dishes around the table.
Plus the fact that my family has a “passing-deficiency”. We serve a lot of buffet style meals at my house for this very reason.
Plan the service route so that it goes smoothly – plates, silverware, napkins first, salads and side dishes, meats, and lastly, desserts and drinks.
7. Sit down and enjoy the feast
Yes, you are the hostess and yes, you will invariably pop up and down during the meal, assisting your guests and making sure everything runs smoothly.
But your people want to interact with you, too, so be sure to have a sit down and enjoy them and all that yummy food you’ve been preparing for days on end!
Later on in the day, you will have to do the dreaded de-boning of the turkey. It’s not really that bad. Enlist a few helpers if you like!
Enjoy preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year, mom! Plan the food, dividing the dishes among family members and guests. Decide on the dish wear and table scape, go shopping early, serve buffet style, and above all – enjoy this special time with your peeps!
You can do this! And to help you out, I’ve created a free, downloadable, printable list with a pretty festive theme! You can insert your dinner menu and stick it on your ‘fridge!
Enjoy! And next Thursday, I’ll be back to share a few of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving dinner!