Friday, October 31, 2008

Panic Season Has Begun

Halloween is upon us, so the countdown to Thanksgiving has begun.


(Okay. Got that out of my system.)

I'm actually more relaxed this year than I was last year, because I know I survived hosting my first one, so I know I can do it again. I just hope I don't get overconfident and mess something up.

I saved my lists and planning pages from last year, so at least I know I can stick to a game plan. I'm only making a couple of adjustments to the menu this year. Last year I served turkey, gravy, apple cornbread stuffing, green bean "casserole" (green beans and mushrooms in a red wine sauce topped with fried shallots), corn pudding, and pecan sweet potatoes. I made a pear and mixed green salad for an appetizer and chocolate cream pie for dessert. This year I'm swapping out the salad for the sweet potato soup and the pecan sweet potatoes for regular mashed (Kevin really missed having mashed potatoes last year).

My biggest problem this year is head counts. I don't like not knowing how many people are coming ahead of time and unfortunately, I'm not going to have a final headcount until a week or two before Thanksgiving.

My brother's stepson is a Marine drill instructor stationed at Parris Island. He may or may not have leave for Thanksgiving. If he does, he will only have time to visit his in-laws in Virginia. That means bro's family will go down there. It's been a long time since my sister-in-law has been able to celebrate a holiday with her son and she hardly ever sees her new granddaughter. I don't blame them for wanting to go, but I wish I could know sooner. If he doesn't get leave, Bro and family are staying in NY and are having Thanksgiving with me.

If my brother comes here for Thanksgiving, the guest list will come to 17 people when you count Bro, SIL, and their two kids. It's going to be a tight squeeze. I think space is my number one concern. I have a folding table and will have to borrow a second one. I don't think anyone in my family has ever hosted a family dinner that was this big. A few years ago my brother and I decided that we were tired of shuffling back and forth between Mom's and Dad's over the holidays, especially since he now has an extended family of in-laws to visit (I'm glad I didn't marry into a big family. My Mother-in-law just spends holidays with Kevin and me). We realized that it was time for us to start doing the family dinner hosting and that Mom and Dad would have to get over themselves and both attend. Now we're stuck hosting gigantic parties.

My other concern is food. How much do I make for 17 people? I'm looking at my recipes, some of which are my own creations, and wonder if I should double them or at least 1.5 them. Then I remember that last year I had leftovers of everything (with 14 people attending) and sent two people home with care packages. Maybe the same amounts will be okay. My mother-in-law, stepgrandmother, and mother all have fairly petite appetites. None of them will be piling up their plates multiple times. Last year my uncle brought a cheese tray and shrimp ring that we ate prior to the first course. People filled up on that so they ate less dinner (or so I'd like to think). Maybe he'll do that again.

Then of course I have to worry about the expense of it all. Hosting a nice dinner does mean a bit of a financial outlay. I don't like to ask people to bring everything because I feel sort of bad saying, "You're invited for dinner - now feed yourself."

I do plan to delegate some of the food and beverages. I have asked Mom to make her delicious orange and ginger cranberry sauce. We just have to hope she avoids human-flesh-eating ponies.

Blood Blood Blood Blood Blood Blood Blood Blood Blood

Another great moneysaving tip is my brother said he would be happy to give me some of his mushrooms for the green beans!


We Are Never Full said...

you go girl! that's a big feat, doing t-giving for 17. but it's totally do-able. my mother (who isn't that much of a cook) cooks thanksgiving for 30 every year. You wouldn't believe how much food you SHOULDN'T make. Don't expect that every person will eat a portion of each thing. You will have so much leftover, unless you have a bunch of gigantic eaters who fasted the day before.

have a blast! i give you credit.

Adam said...

17 people? Sweet lord! I haven't been to a dinner that large in ages. You must get a 50 pound mutant turkey :) Well I'll try and let you know if I can make it... at least a week in advance :)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

WANF - 30??? I am impressed! 14 people last year and I still had leftovers, so I'm thinking if I cook the same amounts, I should have everyone covered. 3 of those 17 will be children and my niece and nephew don't eat anything but turkey on Thanksgiving.

Adam - You're welcome at my table even as a last minute drop in!

noble pig said...

You can do it, good planning will make it easier! Enjoy the season, it goes by too fast!

Emiline said...

Man, that's a lot of people. I think we might have 12. Not sure.

Hmmm, I think the more food the better! You know? You could always freeze some leftovers.

Are you doing chocolate pie again?

cook eat FRET said...

well this year we are traveling so i am expected to do nothing but last year we all chipped in and did a bunch of differet dishes, all delegated. i did 3 dishes and it was fun. 6? would not have been so fun...

Lo said...

Yeah -- that's quite a group. But, you can handle it! I'm with everyone who mentions not to make SCADS of food... well, unless you want Thanksgiving leftovers for Christmas.

Remember to *breathe* and enjoy.

Dee said...

Wow, that sounds like a fabulous spread you're planning! Can't wait for the recipes *rubs hands in glee*

CECIL said...

I can feel your pain about space! Our place is super tiny and when the weather is warm, we can peruse the balcony. But now that winter is kinda peeking around, err..*sigh*

You really should join DB!!! :D

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Em - It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the chocolate pie! You seem to be the dissenter here about making lots and lots of food.

CEF - One of the key ways to manage multiple dishes is to take a day or two off from work and make as much as possible in advance. It also helps to have a mother who lets you use her refrigerator to store the stuff! Everything just gets reheated on T-day.

Cathy - thanks for the kind words. Yeah. Considering the amount of time and effort and planning that goes into it, it really does end too quickly!

Lo - *inhales deeply* I'm actually contemplating the pros and cons of a month of leftovers. It would make more time for Christmas shopping...

Dee- I will definitely be posting my recipes (and the links to some of the online ones) in the near future. Stay tuned...

Cecil - Maybe one day I'll get daring and join. I've been trying to expand my horizons in the baking territory lately, so we will see.

Mansi said...

hehehehe, funny post! but I totally share your panic rachel!! in fact, I just realized I don't even have the proper tools for all the holiday cooking!:)D

Maria said...

You are going to have a houseful!! It will be fun though. You can do it!!

Bellini Valli said...

Thanksgiving has come and gone here in Canada, so all there is to think about is the Christmas holidays:D

Sue said...

I'm not at all worried. You are soooooooooo organized. I forgot you didn't have mashed potates last year. THAT was just wrong. (BTW, they keep beautifully in a stainless steel mixing bowl, over simmering water...Just don't make the bowl fit too perfectly or it may be permanently sealed - I'm speaking from experience.) I'm sort of with Em about tons of food, even though I know FOR SURE that people just don't eat that much. Turkey with gravy is filling!

Are you buffeting it or having a seat a table for each person? THAT's the tough trick. Can't the kids eat in the bathtub? Cleanup is so much easier that way. You could call it Naked Thanksgiving.