Turkey - This year we opted for a fresh turkey, not because of preference, but because Aldi had run out of Butterballs by the Monday before Thanksgiving! I'd say it was a success in that we didn't have to stress about the turkey being thawed in time, the taste was very good, and the leftovers were very tender.
Gravy - we are terrible at making gravy, there is so much to do right before we eat and the few times we've tried the process was too long, delayed dinner, etc. so I've started buying packets. Note to self for next year - buy them several weeks in advance as they are not in stock the week of Thanksgiving and we used Chicken gravy this year.
Cornbread Stuffing - I dream of this days before Thanksgiving, it's truly a favorite but for the love all all that is great and wonderful in this world, stop making a double batch! It doesn't get eaten, doesn't taste as good as leftovers so just stop doubling it!!!
Mashed Potatoes - I added one potato per adult and it was enough for one day of leftovers.
Green bean casserole - we followed the recipe on the back of the crispy onions, it was wonderful.
Butternut Squash Casserole - I made a double recipe and due to it's popularity with my kids, this definitely gets eaten by the weekend.
Corn and Jalapeno Dip - this was a hit throughout the afternoon.
Pies - made Pumpkin and Strawberry Cream, neither got completely eaten but both were delicious and gone by the weekend.
Cookies - we had Mint Chocolate Cookies from a few days prior, they seemed quite popular.
We forgot to serve the Cranberry Sauce!
Might consider shells and cheese for the kids next year.
I made a lasagna several days in advance and popped that in the oven right around 5pm, it was delightful. I've always wanted to have a lasagna in the evening and this year I finally pulled it off. My cousin called me an over-achiever. Ha, you have no idea!
I used cardboard to lay over casserole dishes, right on top of the foil, this helped me to stack items that had no lids all the way to the top of the next shelf.
It is also critical to clean out the fridge first, it's quite a massive amount of food that needs to fit in there right before Thanksgiving day!
Practical suggestions for next year:
- Paper plates for dessert
- Need more glasses for adults (labeled with names would be helpful)
- Try pizza rolls for kids in the evening, sadly they do not like lasagna
- Buy a 6' table to extend our dining room table - we keep using the 8' table from game room and I'd rather leave that alone for games and not have to shuffle tables.
- I made the butternut squash 3 weeks in advance and froze it
- I made the cornbread about 2 weeks in advance, the meat was cooked several days prior along with the veggie mix separately and each saved in separate containers to be combined the morning of Thanksgiving so nothing would get soggy
- Pies and Cookies were made 2-3 days in advance
- Lasagna was made a week in advance and froze
It's our biggest guest day of the year so we like to go all-out!