Countdown to Turkey Day 2011: November 1

Heather says:


Thanksgiving Dinner

It’s time to launch Countdown to Turkey Day 2011. Why yes, I am ridiculously excited about it this year. Oh I know, it’s hard to tell, since I get excited about Thanksgiving every year, but this year?

Well, it has been even more exciting as I have had the fantastic opportunity to work with Butterball.  Yes, gobble gobble, the turkey people.

This year I am one of the Butterball Bloggers* and I have had an absolute blast. I even had the opportunity to attend a day (Turkey Talk-Line Experts get more than a day) of their training in Naperville, IL. I had a wonderful time and learned more about turkey in one day than I have in my (no, I’m not going to say how many) years of cooking it.

*The blog goes live with 2011 content later this week.

I have already been teased about my enthusiasm for the project by friends and family, but oddly enough they didn’t mind eating the results of said enthusiasm. So who was gobbling? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

This year, I’ll be posting: recipes, shopping lists, instructions on how to coordinate the cooking times of your meal, and cleaning checklists -broken up over the month so you aren’t scrubbing toilets while stuffing turkey.

Today you have three tasks.

1. Decide – When and Where

Sit down with pen and paper and decide where and what time dinner will be served. Create a tentative guest list that notes any allergies or dietary restrictions. It’s easier to plan around a gluten or nut allergy than it is to rework a menu.

2. Figure Out – Seating and Serving

Before things get crazy look at your guest list. Do you have enough chairs and place settings? Are you serving a casual enough meal that sitting on the floor and using Chinette works? No? Party rental stores often allow chair, china, and glassware rental in lots much smaller than you’d imagine. I’ve rented as few as ten chairs in the past for parties. Reserve what you need ASAP.

3. Find the dining room table.

Hey, don’t look guilty, we all do it from time to time. Horizontal surfaces are a magnet for paperwork and odds and ends.

Clear it off today. Yep, that means getting rid of the Halloween candy, too.

Give it a good polish. If you have placed any leaves or extensions in storage, pull them out and check for spiders or other unexpected friends. If it doesn’t cause problems go ahead and install them. Otherwise, place them in a convenient location, and while you’re at it,  you may want to write that location down.

How many of you are considering hosting Thanksgiving for the first time?

What intimidates you the most about the event?


  1. deneicer1 on November 2, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I LOVE THANKSGIVING! It and New Year’s are my favorite holidays! (Christmas is just too, well…not Christmas anymore.) Anyway, the thing that is so intimidating to me is that I never know if my in-laws will be attending or not. We have invited my husband’s brother (+fam) so it is very possible that my m-in-l and f-in-l may just show up, invited or no. They tend to bring with them their own brand of drama so it is just a bit stressful. I think I have the menu down pretty well…I just have to do less because my two boys are grown and gone. This year we have more friends and family than in a long time…so it will be a bigger production. Darn…I sure will miss those leftovers! LOL!

  2. KeterMagick on November 2, 2011 at 11:27 am

    At this point, it’s just my husband and myself, and sometimes a friend, so I keep it small. Cooking feast food on a small scale still weirds me out. I just reserved a small organic turkey – last year we just had a commercial frozen turkey breast and it turned out to be quite old and not very good, so this year I’m splashing out for better.

    The thing that intimidates me is pie. I love pie, but consistency in results – unless it all comes from a can – still eludes me. The recipe that came out gourmet quality one time turns into a soupy mess the next time, and the same crust recipe might be fluffy and flaky one time and shrink like a shrinkydink the next time (no, I’m not overworking the dough). I’m guessing it’s due to inconsistency in ingredients, but whatever the adjustments are, I don’t know ’em yet, so pie is always a gamble.

    • deneicer1 on November 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm

      @KeterMagick Marie Callender’s makes our pies…and she does a great job at it, too! (Hey, I can admit when someone else’s is better than mine….and I can always slip it into a lovely pie plate and rework the edges of the crust, too…. its our little secret! 😉

  3. Kellyology on November 2, 2011 at 8:09 am

    The hardest part of planning for me is scheduling (not finding my dining table contrary to what my mother thinks). Can’t seem to get the family members to agree on one place/time, so I always end up eating turkey for 3 days.Really looking forward to your turkey/meal prep tips. Always looking for new recipes/ideas as I have the cooking attention span of a gnat. I never want to cook the same thing twice.

    • deneicer1 on November 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      @Kellyology I have had the same problem, Kellyology. I finally decided that I will set the time (the date is always the same!) and if they show up they show up…if they don’t then I freeze turkey in quart sized zip bags and make white chili with the leftovers (and anything else I can substitute turkey for chicken!) I also freeze any leftover broth, gravy, mashed potatoes, etc. because they go great in soups! Easy potato soup with leftover mashed potatoes: just boil a few potatoes in chicken or turkey stock add in mashed potatoes and Velveeta cheese…YUM!

  4. on November 1, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I can’t wait to host a Turkey Day but the Grandma’s have the Monopoly on the Holiday for now. The day I host it is the day I will know I’m officially a grown up.

    • deneicer1 on November 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm Enjoy it while you have them. I promise one day you will miss them.

  5. Rachel@FoodFix on November 1, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Love that…find the dining room table! So true!

  6. beccabernstein on November 1, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I always struggle w/ seating. Each time I try and plan out where our family sits, someone objects. We have over 40 that attend our family event so seating is important. When I don’t plan a seating arrangement, everyone stands around until I tell them where to sit. It seems like I just can’t win.

    • HeatherSolos on November 1, 2011 at 11:15 am

      @beccabernstein do you host the event in your home or rent a hall? In either case, I’d take a tip from wedding planners and just go ahead and use place cards. If you’re busy in the kitchen, the last thing you need to do is do is deal with those kind of nit picks. :/ That does not sound fun.

      • deneicer1 on November 2, 2011 at 4:45 pm

        @HeatherSolos@beccabernstein I agree whole-hearted-ly with Heather! OMGARSH! The last thing you need to worry about it where everyone will sit! Let them play musical chairs with the place cards whilst you are joyfully finishing up your last details in the kitchen!

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