With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I already feel myself turning into a nut! For those of you hosting it at your place this year, is it just me or does Thanksgiving force you into an anxious-ridden, enraged worrywart perfectionist akin to that of a bridezilla? Maybe it’s just me, but the preparations for this day always brings out the worst. I suppose I get the party planning hysteria from my mom (and mom if you read this I love you anyway ) who works until the very last minute, fretting about how everything has to be absolutely perfect for the huge number of guests coming. And if anything is out of sorts, i.e. no napkins, mashed potatoes lukewarm instead of hot, Sprite instead of Coke, then all hell breaks loose. Growing up I just thought this woman was crazy, but in the past couple of years that I’ve actually been engaging in the Thanksgiving cook-fest, I can see where she is coming from. For you to spend all this time and money for this beautiful feast you have pictured in your head, only to be 1 egg short for the quiche pie or to run out of wine in the end is just devastating. As for my part, I take care of the desserts, which is admittedly less than the savory counterparts my mom takes care of, but even I am on edge to get it all done and especially, done well.
I think it mostly comes from good planning. I never was much of a planner, always choosing spontaneity over mindful order. Recently, however, and by that I mean in the past couple of months, I’ve learned that without delineating your time to create a wonderful end product, you might just wind up with disaster. This is especially true for baking, even more so if you have big orders and a deadline. And being that I do want to get into the business side of baking, I’ve had to get into the habit of planning out my days; I’ve even purchased a planner, which makes me feel important and almost like an adult!
Here are a few other tips I can offer up, merely based on my personal experience:
1) Make a list of all the recipes you plan on making for the big day. Include every ingredient (make a bulk master list) and the time everything takes you so you can better divide up your days.
2) Once you have your master list of ingredients, buy everything at the very least a week before you start on cooking/baking your recipes. Don’t leave it to the last minute! I don’t know about you but I cannot spend all day at the supermarket, especially not with every other last minute shopper scrambling to buy everything they need. Also, whatever ingredient you need a lot of try and buy in bulk at a wholesale food store since it can save you money.
3) Start a month ahead! Certain things like some cookie doughs or pie crusts hold up well in the freezer and are easy to pull out and pop in the oven a day before you need them. I’ll blog more about this in the future, but do your research and you’ll find many things can be prepared well in advance!
4) If you decide you want to dazzle your family with new never-before made dish, DON’T wait until the day to try it out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought “Oh, it’ll be okay, easy recipe I’ll make it the day before,” and wound up with something I wasn’t completely satisfied with. Not every recipe is perfect as is and you should really try it out at least once, making alterations if you need so you wind up with something great instead of just okay .
5) Accept any and all help if it’s there. I should really take my own advice, I’m guilty of being too much of a nit-picker about things, worrying that if I allow someone else to mix a batter here or frost a cookie there, they won’t do it right. Be there to supervise of course, but if anyone wants to help, let them! The holidays are all about family anyway, and with more hands things get done quicker, and it’s more fun if everyone is involved.
6) Most importantly, have fun! Even with careful planning things do go wrong. If you can, fix it. If not, it’s not the end of the world. This may not be true if you’re filling an order for a client, where you sort of do have to fix it, but you shouldn’t be as stressed out when you’re cooking/baking for holidays and family and friends. Like I said the holidays are all about the family anyway, and if something goes wrong at least it’ll give you guys something to laugh about later. After all, everything is a learning experience, just do it better next time.
Hope all this helps, and I’d love to hear how you plan or what you do to prepare to feed a crowd. As for me, I’m going to try out a new pie and cookie recipe I might just make for the big day.
Love & Sweets,