We all look forward to the holiday feasts and time spent with family. Mothers and grandmothers sometimes dread the holiday season because of the huge preparation and cleanup involved while everyone else is lazing on the sofa watching the parade or ballgames or just chatting merrily away. The most important thing the holiday needs to accomplish is a family enjoying their time together and to reflect on their blessings. Do not feel guilty; an easy Thanksgiving meal is not going to get you ousted from the family tree.
Planning is an essential part of a holiday meal. Name your menu and make sure you have the appropriate serving dishes needed. Make your grocery list and check it twice to guarantee you have all the ingredients necessary for your holiday feast. Delegate preparation of a dish to each member of the family or each guest who will attend. One dish will not be a burden for anyone to prepare.
Try something new this year and have a theme holiday. Whether it is your family's favorite ethnic cuisine such as having Italian, Mexican, or tropical foods, or having a fun 50s theme or any other decade, theme parties are always special. Sport themes can be fun and you can serve the favorites at ballparks across America such as hot dogs, nachos, or ice cream treats.
If you have a group of high school or college kids who will be joining you, consider a make your own pizza fest. Purchasing premade shells, prepping a few of the ingredients, and preheating the oven are all that is necessary to make this party a success. Using an assembly line to prepare the pizza is a fun activity for all.
Your family's favorite meals can be a welcome substitute for your Thanksgiving meal. If having a shrimp or crab boil is something your family only gets to experience once or twice a year, why not do it on Thanksgiving? It is a one-pot meal and a crowd pleaser. Many people only enjoy crown roast of pork, or a thick grilled rib eye on very special occasions. Whatever the favorite is, prepare it on the holiday.
If you just cannot bring yourself to give up the traditional Thanksgiving fare, at least make it easy. Already prepared stuffing and turkey can be pre-ordered and brought home the night before or the day of your feast. They may cost a little extra but they are well worth it in the time and hard work you save. You can now purchase already prepared turkeys. You just pop these into the oven, with no need to wrestle with thawing the bird and taking out the giblets.
Many desserts, pies, cookies and cakes can be made two or three days ahead and remain fresh. Freezing desserts a month or two ahead is a great way to save on holiday chores. Bakeries, grocery and discount stores all have a wealth of baked goods that you can purchase the day before your celebration.
Have a buffet instead of a formal sit-down dinner. Have everyone bring his or her favorite appetizers and finger foods and just let everyone graze all day.
The restaurant.org website reports that 53 percent of all Americans add to their Thanksgiving feast by purchasing already prepared foods from restaurants and other sources such as discount stores. In 2003, 11 percent of Americans dined at a restaurant on Thanksgiving. The holidays do not have to mean slaving over a hot stove or soapy dishwater all day! (see Reference 1)