How to Plan the Perfect Holiday Meal

With just a few weeks away until the holiday feasts arrive, it’s a great time to start preparing. Want to ensure a meal everyone will enjoy (including you)? All it takes is a little planning. Use our holiday meal countdown to get everything you need:

Three Weeks Out

Start gathering your favorite recipes and look for new recipes you might like to try. Having a mixture of things you know you make well will put you at ease around the dinner table. But, don’t be afraid to try something new to spice up the meal and possibly start a new tradition. This is also the best time to make a rough meal plan. Keep in mind any food allergies while covering everyone’s favorites. Offer a variety of fruits and veggies in the dishes you prepare.

Two Weeks Out

Decide on what items you will make and what items you can ask others to bring. Desserts, breads, drinks, and appetizers are typically easy items for others to tote, so keep that in mind. Once you've chosen what you will prepare, make a list of all ingredients you will need, or items that you plan to purchase pre-made. Go shopping for all of the ingredients that don't need to be refrigerated and set them aside in your pantry. Plan your main entree. If you are cooking a turket, buy it this week to ensure you will have the size you need.

One Week Out

Decorate your home and finalize the guest list. If you plan to offer games after the meal, plan those as well. Board games, puzzles, and football are all holiday favorites and easy on the host.

Three Days Out

Set up your tables and put out place settings (if using them) to ensure you will have enough for everyone. Check the number of chairs against the guest list as well. Purchase refrigerated ingredients you will need for the meal. If you are cooking a turkey, begin thawing it today.

Two Days Out

Make all cookies or candies, or purchase pre-made. Purchase all beverages and check to ensure you will have enough glassware for each guest.

The Day Before

Prepare any dishes ahead of time that you can. For those that you can’t prepare in advance, chop up all ingredients if possible. Create an hour-by-hour timeline of what items will need to go into the over at what time, and when they will need to be removed. Place this timeline in a spot that is easily accessible.

The Big Day

Get up early to finish the final prep work so all you have to do is place items in the oven and pull them out. Set out all desserts, with serving utensils. Set up a drink area where guests can easily serve themselves on refills.

Enjoy your guests! Remember, the whole point of a holiday gathering is to enjoy each other. Don’t let the meal itself stress you out to the point of not being able to relax and build memories with the ones you love.

Posted: Tuesday, November 05, 2013 | Tagged as: Meal, Perfect, Thanksgiving