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Old 10-06-2005, 09:22 AM   #11
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My tip is if others offer to cook or bring something, take them up on it. There is no reason one person needs to make everything. People will usually volunteer to make something that that is their specialty so you get the best dishes that way.
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Old 10-06-2005, 10:19 AM   #12
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Planning and orginization is everything. When it gets down to the wire, you want everything to flow smoothly, and you DON'T want to be so over-worked and flustered that you can't enjoy your guests.
I start way ahead planning my menu and who will bring what. Then I go through my recipes and make my shopping list.
I prepare and freeze or refrigerate anything ahead of time that I can. I also do all my chopping and dicing, and put in ziplocks in fridge.
Then I get a game-plan in mind and make notes for myself. (Since I like to drink a wee toddy while I cook, I've found that very helpful. )

My mother used to set her table the day before, using all her prettiest crystal and china, but I can't do that, as I have a pair of Siamese cats who are very curious, so that job goes to my daughter just before we eat.
And I don't hesitate to ask for help from any of my guests...stirring a pot, taking up ice, watching the rolls, etc. Our kitchen/living/dining areas are all combined in one big L shaped room, making it easy to keep everyone involved.
One hint about your table setting...I have bought several sets of pretty dish towels to use for napkins. They are nice and big, and easy to wash.
Depending on how big the crowd is, sometimes I set up a separate table for the kids at our big round coffee table (cut down from an old round oak table.) They get candles and flowers like the grown ups, so they think it's pretty cool, and we get their plates fixed first, so the adults can relax and have good conversation with their meals.
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Old 10-07-2005, 05:30 AM   #13
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I love that dish-towel as napkin idea! I have used dishtowels as napkins when doing an on-hands meal (chicken on the grill, lobster, etc) but it wouldn't have occurred to me for Thanksgiving. Right now a lot of stores have those holiday-themed towels out and they usually are very pretty and not-too-pricey. My husband is in charge of table setting in our house -- after all, the china and silver were his when I married him -- so that's one less thing for me to do. We're already planning our holiday meals in our social group. Not quite at the stage of planning the meal itself, mind you, but at which house. I have Thanksgiving.
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Old 10-07-2005, 07:48 AM   #14
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I like doing as much as I can ahead of time. My first step is to clean the refrigerator in the garage so I can keep whatever I need there. I can thaw the turkey, store the ham, chill the pickles, relish, etc. It makes the job in the kitchen much easier to have some of the stuff out of the way. As the time grows closer, I put salad, rolls, pies so I can still find things in the fridge in the house. I don't think I'm as organized as some of you, but I do live by lists for the preceding weeks of a holiday. I will make my fruitcakes (no comment) by the end of this month so they will taste great by Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our biggest problem is deciding where we will spend the holidays. My sister likes us to go to the farm and the kids each want to have it at their house. I suppose we will come to a decision before long and make plans accordingly. I no longer feel it is my duty to have the family come to my house every holiday and it seems to suit them as well.
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Old 10-08-2005, 06:44 AM   #15
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I have to confess that planning isn't my strong suite. Thanksgiving dinner is a formula as far as I'm concerned, so it doesn't really require as much planning, I've been doing it, all or part, since I was quite young. BUT I have to admit that at then end of almost every meal I find I've forgotten something. Usually desert, since I don't care for any (not at holidays when it's pie and everyone expects it ... part of the formula). And I often burn the rolls/biscuits. So often that about ten years ago I learned to sit a guest down at the kitchen table with a timer and a potholder, and making sure the bread doesn't burn is that person's sole job. No burned buns since.
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