Now is the Time to Shop, Don’t Wait Any Longer
Here we go Boomers, Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. Everything I want to share with you this week is designed for organizing and preparing for the granddaddy of all meals, but most important, will save you time and money in the long run.
My BoomerGuy is my big spreadsheet and checklist maker for the family. I always have a notepad at the ready, but he takes it beyond my shopping list to a well-designed print out from his computer. Top chefs always have a detailed checklist for their parties and events, regardless of whether it’s home entertaining or a large gathering.
I truly love entertaining small and large groups, family or friends. Doesn’t matter. Having that checklist in hand gives me the confidence that most everything will go off without a hitch instead of going into complete chaos.
Furthermore, after you have created and then shopped for all your products and ingredients, the next step is what the French call “mise en place.” This is where you have all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. all before you start cooking. Pans are prepared, mixing bowls, tools and equipment are all set out. It’s a great way to feel in control and organized before it’s launch time.
Just before you do all of that, one of my favorite loves is to decorate and set a festive table.
Check your linens. Seems like the older we get the harder it is to even remember what we had for dinner last week, much less remembering if the table linens survived the holidays from 2-3 years ago. Don’t wait until the morning of Thanksgiving to pull out those linens. Get them out now and leave yourself time to replace anything that can’t be washed, ironed, and ready to go. I love using cloth napkins for special occasions, and T-Day certainly qualifies. World Market www.worldmarket.com has a great selection of napkins, glasses and miscellaneous entertaining pieces while maintaining a great sense of style, for a great price should you need to replace and buy new.
There’s no question we have all gotten more casual in our day-to-day, so let’s make these holidays something a little special.
Plan your centerpiece and table décor. Spend some time planning your table scape, so you don’t have to worry about it the day of. You’ll also have time to hit the discount stores should you need to purchase new items. Most are having great sales right now, but perhaps not so much in the coming weeks with the supply chain causing grid-lock for all stores.
If your meal is planned for the evening affair, make sure you check your candles well-before. You don’t want that nasty surprise to find them melted together from the summer heat. I happen to enjoy scentless because they don’t fight with the food flavors, and also will use battery operated candles which are more the rage these days. I’ve even had artificial candles melt if they had a wax outer shell. It happens.
Pull out your Thanksgiving decorations for around the house. Perhaps you have some already set out celebrating the fall season, but make sure you retrieve the rest and not let them sit idle in the closets. Hobby Lobby www.hobbylobby.com has a full display of fall and Thanksgiving decorations with large, discounted pricing. Get ready because many of the shelves already have Christmas décor.
Here are several tips from one of my all-time favorite cooks and entertainers for setting your table. Ina Garten is a true joy to watch and read her books, as well. You can catch her on the Food Network, www.foodnetwork.com, Combine her ideas with a few of my own and I think you will find this list of fool proof tips most helpful.
- Use non-skid rug mats (yes, you read that correctly) as table protectors. They will safe guard your table surface and prevent slippage…and, they are easy to cut to size.
- Arrange one flower in abundance down the middle of the table. Costco and Trader Joe’s have the best pricing on fresh flowers.
- If you find you don’t have enough of one kind of glasses, use mismatched glasses in the same shade.
- Try to choose one color and follow through with the flowers and the glasses.
- Make deconstructed bouquets—lots of small vases with one type of flower in each vase.
- Think outside the box. Mix pumpkins with greenery or fall leaves, either real or faux will work nicely. Also, tangerines, tangelos, cumquats with their orange color complement any pumpkin décor; they can then be eaten by your guests afterwards.
- Mix modern with flea market linens and china.
- Use kitchen towels for casual napkins.
- If you’re using square plates, line everything up squarely and evenly.
- For fancier settings, use elegant French kitchen towels for napkins.
- Use oil cloth fabric for tablecloths—it washes off with a sponge and you can cut the edges with scissors to fit your space.
- Use runners as placemats.
- Your colors of orange and yellow (both fall colors) can be extended by simply spray painting your pumpkins and a few pinecones with gold to add sparkle.
- A popular new look is to use blacks and creams. White pumpkins are an elegant touch along with gourds mixed in with candles and other items you find to make your table scape.
- The goal here is to save both time and money and still have a terrific look for the holiday meal. So, shop your house first to see what you have, then mix and match to the number of guests you’re having, then go forth and conquer.
And most important have fun while putting all this together.
Hey Boomers, I know this is a lot to think about, but if you’re hosting, make it memorable and extra special. We have all missed too much these past several years. The countdown list will be posted next week.
As always, your #1 BoomerGal, Connie.
Select photo content provided by Ina Garten.