On Monday I covered the initial planning stages of my Thanksgiving luncheon. Then I got excited and distracted by my feature on The Little Big Company Blog. Now, I’m back to thinkging about Thanksgiving and we’re onto talking about planning menus and structuring your pre-event time.
Most importantly, when people are coming for a meal, is the food. I’m not going to post the exact menu that I’ve chosen for the weekend here because some of my guests are readers and I’d like some surprises! But what I’ve gone with is a balanced menu that consists of lots of things that can be made in advance during the week before to save myself stress on the day before and the morning of the lunch. I’ve got:
- A cocktail on arrival
- Entree of soup (no bread — I want them to eat dessert!)
- Turkey and two or three vegetables (still haven’t decided) – with gravy and cranberry sauce on the side
- 2 homemade ice-creams and pumpkin pie
- Cupcakes and biscuits to take home
So, looking at that list, the only things that need to be prepared on the day are the cocktails and the main meal. I work 5 days a week full time and casually most weekend days as well, so my next step was to look in my diary, see what I had on after work on both days and block out time accordingly. I also need to leave time for cleaning — running the vacuum over the floors, clearing papers off my desk, making sure the bathroom looks lovely and clean and so on — as well as decorating my apartment and setting the table. I wrote myself a list of every day from this past weekend until the day of the lunch with things I have to do, appointments I’d made and so on, and then fit baking and cleaning in around those existing commitments.
Here are a few things that I’ve done so far this week:
- After work on Sunday I headed out to buy my groceries and then spent a couple of hours in the kitchen making my entree soup (which I then cooled and froze), and boiling pumpkin down to for the pumpkin puree that will go in my pie, biscuits, cakes and one of my ice-creams. Once it was done, I measured it out into the quantities needed for each recipe and put them separately in the fridge with labels on the top.
- When I was done for the night, I sat down to watch some TV and cut out my Thanksgiving printables (I got these from The TomKat Studio) and measured out lengths of ribbon for my bunting.
- On Tuesday night, I got straight into making the pumpkin flavoured things, mostly so I could work out if two whole pumpkins were going to yield enough flavour for all my desserts. I’d already measured out for the biscuits and the pumpkin pie the night before. I made the biscuits, prepared a slice for a separate event, and then made one lot of ice-cream. While I was waiting for the oven and the ice-cream maker, I did some of the cleaning tasks like dusting and tidying. Once the kitchen was cleaned and the washing up done, I hung my bunting.
- Last night I made my second flavour of ice-cream, made my pumpkin pie and baked a cake for the separate event (a Birthday). I also made progress on my dusting and tidying and finished hanging decorations and washed the floor in the kitchen.
My advice to anyone planning any sort of event, whether it’s a huge party or a small luncheon like this, is to plan ahead as best you can. You need to take into consideration other commitments: I had two other parties to supply cakes for in the same week as this luncheon, so these, plus work days and grocery trips needed to be accounted for. If you can, start setting up while you have time. Once the pie was done last night, all the really advanced pre-baking (the things that would be fine in the fridge until the weekend) was done. So tonight when I get home I can focus on finishing the cleaning (vacuum, do the bathroom, wash the floor and sweep my balcony). It’s my plan to spend a bit of time this week (even if it’s Saturday night) setting the table, setting out the plattters and stands for the dessert table and laying out the glassware so all I have to do on Sunday is cook the Turkey and vegies, set out the desserts and make the cocktails.