Parent to Parent

Have a Perfect Holiday

by Patti Hermes

thanksgiving dinner menu planning familyInstead of the usual recipe for success, I offer a recipe for failure. Because every year, no matter how much planning you do, failure happens anyway, doesn’t it? So let’s get organized and do it right this year!

Most important, you must strive for absolute perfection. Sure, nobody’s perfect all the time, but for just one day your family, your friends, your home, your dinner will all be perfect. It will be a perfect holiday. Make it so!

Insist on doing everything yourself. It’s your holiday, so it’s up to you to make it perfect. And the only way to make it perfect is for you to do everything. You can’t possibly expect others to live up to your impossibly high expectations, so from the shopping and decorating to the meal planning and cooking, you must do it all.

Make a perfect centerpiece for the table, preferably by copying the cover of a magazine you saw in the grocery checkout aisle. Perfectly coordinating place cards will most likely be found inside that same magazine, so make sure you’re waiting in a long enough line so you have time to find the directions, or at least another picture. Make sure it’s all ready at least a couple days in advance so you can set up your table before the real preparations begin. Plan on spending at least two, maybe three days in the kitchen before the big day.

Who’s coming to celebrate with you and your family? Invite anyone you can think of that might not already have plans. That nice couple across the street that still waves hello might be planning a nice quiet celebration, so send them a special homemade invitation to join yours. Make sure all your in-laws make your place their favorite destination for every holiday (drape on the guilt if you have to, they really don’t mind). Don’t forget your niece’s ex-husband who just got out of jail, he definitely isn’t getting any other offers this year!

What to do with your guests when they arrive? Appetizers, you must push the appetizers. Have plenty of breads on hand, you know, like banana bread, cranberry bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread. Make that chocolate zucchini bread, for a little variety. And don’t forget an assortment of spreads for the breads: butter, cream cheese, apple butter, almond butter, jellies, jams … etc. Must have something for everyone, even the dieters amongst us, so be sure to put out the fresh veggies with dips, along with the crackers and cheeses. But not so much that they gorge themselves and get too full for dinner.

Now for the menu. What should you have for dinner? Every single favorite or traditional dish your family and guests request. To make sure each one comes out perfectly, make everything yourself, from scratch. Should the potatoes be mashed or whipped? Both! Squash or turnips? Yes, yes! Green bean casserole and sweet potatoes with marshmallows? Yes! What about the scalloped pineapple favored by Great Aunt Martha? Should you bother with the pearl onions that only Uncle Fred will like? Of course, why should they suffer without them? Let’s not forget about the dinner rolls. And what about the turkey? The bigger, the better. How about two? Roast one and fry the other. Whatever your family favorites, don’t leave anything to chance.

Now, should you serve wine or beer? But of course! Make sure you have a full bar ready to accommodate your guests. And for those who prefer not to imbibe, there’s always sparkling cider and grape juice, and good ole milk for the kiddies (don’t forget the chocolate syrup, and maybe strawberry and coffee syrups, too, just in case). For after dinner, fire up the cappuccino machine so you can wow your guests with an assortment of lattes, cappuccinos, or just some really good coffee or teas (black, white and green!).

Now what about dessert? And who’s taking care of all those dirty dishes piling up in the kitchen? You are, of course! You don’t want your guests to be nosing around your kitchen, man-handling your good china, or accidentally putting some silver pieces in the dishwasher, do you? Send them off to watch the big game, while you clear away the mess in the dining room and set up for the final course.

What would Thanksgiving be without pies? Apple pie, pumpkin pie, squash pie, sweet potato pie, Italian cream pie, strawberry-rhubarb pie, and, for those who don’t like the traditional, chocolate silk pie. Make sure you have plenty of chocolate chip, oatmeal and sugar cookies on hand for the little ones. And any other kind of pie you can think up, just make sure everybody’s covered by a favorite or two. And what goes better with pie (and cookies!) than a dollop of vanilla ice cream? Maybe French vanilla ice cream? Just remember that some people like plain old whipped cream topping their slice. Choices, choices, just have a little of everything on hand and nobody will go home unsatisfied.

Now have I forgotten anything? Oh no, I forgot the gravy! Now the whole day is ruined! Oh well, it was a perfect try. Better luck next year, unless you want to give it another try come Christmas/Hanukkahh/Kwanza. Until then, have a Perfect Thanksgiving!

Patti Hermes

Patti Hermes, Parent to Parent, is living the dream with her high school sweetheart, raising their boys in the Midwest because it's a good starting point for epic road trips. While writing, reading and homeschooling take up most of her time, she still blogs at HermesParent to ParentParentingParent to Parent Have a Perfect Holiday by Patti Hermes Instead of the usual recipe for success, I offer a recipe for failure. Because every year, no matter how much planning you do, failure happens anyway, doesn't it? So let's get organized and do it right this year! Most...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids