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Thanksgiving Checklist

Posted on November 17 2017

Thanksgiving Checklist


1. Put away Halloween decorations
2. Put up Thanksgiving decorations
3. Cook like crazy
4. Eat like crazy
5. Shop til you drop

It's a good thing that Halloween decorations are orange and black, because you can use that orange as the transitional bridge from Halloween to harvest decorating. I've always thought that a good Jack-o-lantern should have a longer shelf life than just one day. Put away all things zombie apocalypse and save the rest.

As we awaken from the sugar rush hangover, it's time to plan for the biggest holiday of the year. Thanksgiving. The air is crisp, leaves become vibrant and summer days already seem like a distant memory. It's time to discard the tired planter arrangements and bring in some Mums and decorative cabbages with your pumpkin collection.

There is so much colour and texture outside, you don't need to do a lot to make your front facade look welcoming and seasonal. This is the time to eagerly welcome back your kids from their freshman semester at university. This might be the year that your favourite aunt and uncle can join you at the dinner table or you take in strays - a lonely neighbour, friend or co-worker. Prepare the guest rooms for the grandparents and beg, borrow or steal cots or hide-a-beds as needed. This is the time for togetherness, like no other. Don't mind the small stuff - like that DIY project that didn't get done. It's about the smiling faces and the coming together to be thankful and grateful.

Not being too ambitious is the way to be. Setting aside last minute projects doesn't mean you shouldn't rethink your space for the upcoming Tryptophan-tastic long weekend. Moving a few key pieces of furniture could really make your time hassle free and more enjoyable. Understanding and accommodating for 3 or more generations under one roof will allow for your togetherness to work for all.

Let's look at creating the zones:

  • General visiting area - multigenerational chill-out space for quiet time and conversation
  • TV area - enclosed for loud cheering on for the game
  • Dining area - extended table and chairs with enough circulation space around them. Set the furniture way in advance of guests descending on you
  • Small children's' games area - contained for minding small ones, both human and animal, quiet without a lot of surrounding stimulation

With family and friends comfortably settled into their zones of choice, you can then get to the job of preparing for the big meal. Sometimes the best way to help is not to help at all! These zones will keep people occupied, so as not to be underfoot.

Time to tackle that bird. One year, my brother in law decided to deep fry a turkey. I must say that was a unique experience to watch. In the front yard, he set up a propane fryer kit. We brought out all the lawn chairs that had already been put away for the winter.

"Wow, it's like Thunderdome in here. He should've just driven it out on a monster truck.
He's shamelessly catering to his demographic." - Gilmour Girls

It felt like a tailgate party with a floor show. The cheering grew to a roar when he proudly held up the sacrificial bird skewered with large prongs. The countdown made the whole scene more exciting.

"It's in the vat. It's like a death in the family." - Gilmour Girls

Thanksgiving Decorative Pilgrim Turkey
While the bird was getting its bubbling 45 minute bath, my mother in law was in her kitchen, quietly working on the sides. Would I recommend this method of cooking? I think that depends on your personal preference and yard size! The meat was really juicy and crispy on the outside. 

Such a short cooking time meant the house didn't overheat and the kitchen was free for other tasks. Any negatives? There was no delicious stuffing which normally cooked inside the turkey to get its enhanced flavour. There was also no gravy from drippings. These items had to be made separately and to be honest, lost their luster without the meat juices.

The worst part of a deep fried Thanksgiving was the cleanup of the fryer. We had to wait hours for it to cool. By then, everyone was full and sleepy and not in the mood to tackle the joys of congealed fat. To reuse the oil (usually high smoke point varieties such as Canola or Peanut), you need a fridge big enough to hold it for a shelf life of about a year.

To avoid unexpected explosions unrelated to holiday fireworks, warm the oil to room temperature before heating up again.

"I can't cook a Thanksgiving dinner. All I can make is cold cereal and maybe toast." -
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

If you are like me, tackling a large turkey dinner is out of the question. We have a 24" wide
oven and more importantly, I don't have the courage nor the skill set! So what I do, is play to my strengths, which are to organize and to decorate. Don't sweat the big stuff - have a turkey made for you or you can opt for a couple of roast chickens. Ask family members to bring a dish each and you can do nice hors d'oeurves.

A signature harvest cocktail also goes a long way. Mine is a citrus apple cider, which can be left as is for kids, or spiked for the grownups.

I love decorating the table. I can savour those quiet moments before the rush of hungry people. The table will be full of dishes, cutlery and stemware. So don't be too concerned about creating a spectacular cornucopia. If there isn't enough room, consider having a buffet style dinner. That way, you have the opportunity to decorate 2 tables.

Don't forget about vertical space. Bring out all your compotes and multi-tiered serving ware. Like any room in your home, most of us tend to forget about the abundance of space above. Layering your food display can have great impact and work practically for all of those delicious dishes. Remember, there is no such thing as going against tradition, veering off script. Tradition is what you make of it and what works well for you.

"It's not too much food. This is what we've been training for our whole lives.
This is our destiny, this is our finest hour." - Gilmour Girls

After all this togetherness, you will be ready for some retail therapy. And what better way to pay homage to that than with some serious Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. Face to face can't be beat. But what is more convenient than being able to do some serious shopping in the comfort of our homes, donning fleecy pj's and fuzzy slippers, without a care of a good hair day or even cash in pocket.

I think that it's very clever that the dark history of Black Tuesday 1929, has been positively transformed into a happy, albeit frenzied, opportunity to shop at a discount on Black Friday. And Cyber Monday became a game changer.

Do we still need brick and mortar buildings to guide our ways to retail nirvana? I think that we can answer that timely question by comparing cocktails with friends versus a quiet Skype conversation. We couldn't have one without the other. This symbiotic relationship keeps both alive. So hug your grandmother, kiss a cousin, eat some great food and catch up on each others' lives. Go out and try out some sofas and jump up and down on a mattress. Then switch gears and have some alone time with your retail device of choice and enter a world of  endless possibilities without the maddening crowds.

And remember, the diet can start after Thanksgiving.

"An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.” -Irv Kupcinet

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