Real Answers From Real Ministers' Wives

Holiday Meals

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Q. Does anyone have any secrets to keep Thanksgiving (or Christmas) Dinner simple and stress free (yet, beautiful!)?

  • I make all my pies about a week before Thanksgiving and freeze them. Then I just take them out Thanksgiving morning.

  • I make Pumpkin and Apple. Then I always make a Cherry Yum Yum dessert the day before. It so much better if it's been in the fridge 24 hrs. I also get my casseroles ready the day before.

  • All I have to do is pop them in the microwave. I have a convection/micro oven and another microwave. That helps so much in not getting stressed. I start my Turkey the night before also so as to cut down on cooking time on Thanksgiving. -Skilight33PW1

  • We always have my husband's whole family to our house. I make the mashed potatoes (peeled 15 pounds of spuds last year, but we had enough!). And about a week before, I call everyone who is coming and ask what they are bringing or instruct them what I need them to bring.

  • I usually make some cookies too. And since there are about 40 of us, I provide all the plates, cups, napkins and plastic ware. No way we can use real china, etc. with that many people. I make the coffee, provide the ice for pop. Everything else comes with the family! -KarenR

  • Don't save leftovers the week before Thanksgiving. Eat what you can and throw the rest out. Chances are they'll just sit there through Thursday and then you'll have to spend time cleaning out the fridge so you can get all the yummy Turkey day leftovers in there. If you just can't bring yourself to throw them out, freeze them.

  • Purchase those disposable/reusable Ziploc brand or Glad brand servers to send home food with people. They are relatively inexpensive (you can pick up a 30pc set for under $8 at Sam's Club) and this way you won't lose your favorite casserole dish or Tupperware bowl. -Rebekah

  • Plan ahead to do ahead. I am putting together my menu this week (first week of November), and next to each menu item is which serving dish, writing how many days ahead I can do it, what pot/pan/crock pot I will cook it in and what serving dish I will put it in.

  • Explore every cooking method you have in your kitchen and use every crock-pot you own, and maybe some of your neighbors! LOL On Thanksgiving day, all I cook is the turkey, and brown the rolls. Everything else gets heated up either on the stove, a crock-pot, or the oven; and garnished. (I cut up & label garnish a few days ahead----I never remember that kind of stuff when the time comes. -ScoobyDoobySue

  • I also plan ahead for every dish and what I'm going to serve in which dish and I start EARLY! That way I can buy what I need.

  • Make up what you can ahead of time if possible. Make your pies and freeze them. The night before, put anything that is going to be microwaved into the right containers and store them in the fridge so all you have to do is pull them out and pop them in. I counted a couple years ago - I spent THREE hours just getting the food ready to cook. -Rebekah

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