Real Answers From Real Ministers' Wives

Holiday Meals Page Two

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

  • If you have a roaster (plug in kind) - USE IT! It frees up so much room if you don't have your turkey in the oven. And your house stays cooler because the oven isn't on all day - just for the hour or so before the meal. 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.

  • Set your table the night before if possible. Even if it's just with plastic silverware and Dixie plates. This will keep people from walking in and dumping things on the dining room table that you'll just have to move.

  • Ok, one more... Think of things that people can do that will keep them out of your way. You know that the women are going to come in and want to help. So instead of them standing there asking and you saying, "I don't know" and trying to come up with something, have a list ready. If you give them something to do they are less likely to "help" with that special dish that only you can prepare correctly. -Rebekah

  • Hubby and I do the turkey together. We had so much fun when we did our first turkey. We were talking like Julia Child and just enjoying each other's company. It's still fun but we no longer talk like Julia Child. LOL.

  • I don't let the holiday dinners cause me stress. What's done is done and what isn't done, well, no big deal. Keeping the menu simple works well for me also.

  • I also set my table early in the morning, and do all those little things that can be done early.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone. -Glory

  • I buy aluminum, throw-away pans throughout the year. That way, I can bake several dishes in them and dispose of them when I'm done. It helps so much not to have tons of big pans to wash after a big meal. I also line the oven with aluminum foil before I start baking pies, etc. That way I don't have an oven to clean at the end of the day.
    ;) -SavedByGrace

  • Leave as little as possible to Thanksgiving Day, but be sure to not leave everything until the day before, either. Many dishes can be prepared two, three or more days ahead, then frozen or refrigerated and just reheated on "the" day.

  • If you are peeling lots of potatoes and plan to put the peelings down the disposal, you could be better off just putting into a bag and into the garbage can. Potato peelings take a long time to grind up and if you put too many down (usually more than about a 1/2 cup) your sink will clog. Not exactly a fun thing to have fixed on a holiday. -ScoobyDoobySue

From Sue: Here are some cool sites to check out...

    * Go to the Food Network Turkey Calculator Page to find out how large a turkey you need in order to feed your crowd, and to find out what time to put it in the oven (based on 350 degree oven) so it will be ready when you want it.

    * USA Weekend magazine (it comes in the Sunday newspaper) had a great article on a Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner: Do Ahead Thanksgiving Shows how to do two turkeys, so that you can have that nice looking one on the table for folks to see.

    * Thanksgiving Day wouldn't be complete for some of us without an impending disaster, so you may want to write down the Turkey Talk-Line from Butterball toll-free telephone number: 1-800-Butterball also known as 1-800-288-8372

    * Butterball also has a great site online with TONS of great information about cooking turkeys--how, when, where, and why! The Butterball Holiday Guide can tell you everything you want to know.

    * There is more to hosting a holiday dinner than cooking a turkey, and that is where the Home & Garden Channel comes in to fill in all the blanks. Their "Thanksgiving Style" page has more to do with hospitality and ambiance than cooking.

    * And what feast would be complete for any hostess without at least thinking of Martha Stewart. With the help of her "Thanksgiving Made Easy" page we can all learn a "good thing" message board smiley with tongue sticking out for making the day prettier or tastier. (Please pardon my note of sarcasm. I actually find myself at her website fairly often to see "how Martha does it"!)

Thank you to all the contributors. These are suggestions posted on our Message Board and used by permission. The name you see on many is their "message board identity".