Thanksgiving is the iconic American meal. Charleston is famed for its food and culture. Put the two together, and anyone would be concerned about measuring up. Just thinking about the cooking, decorating, and cleaning that will be involved is enough to send anyone’s blood pressure skyrocketing. Stop. Take a deep breath. Here are some tips that will help:
Don’t Let Your To-Do List Overwhelm You
You don’t have to own house with a double stacked porch in the historic district to make your home a welcoming place for your guests. Go for warmth, not glitz. Take a page from the earlier residents of the area and use nature’s bounty to decorate. Gourds, pumpkins, magnolia leaves, and dried grasses will set the mood without breaking the bank. You don’t have to decorate every surface. An autumnal wreath on the door and a statement centerpiece will set the mood.
Skip Formality: Try a Buffet
Southern hospitality does not have to equal formality. Why not give a Thanksgiving buffet? Layer tablecloths over a folding buffet table or use a dresser or console table. Put the utensils and napkins in baskets, arrange the food, and let your guests serve themselves. For a really informal dinner, and much easier clean up, look into Thanksgiving themed paper plates and plastic utensils that can be disposed of after the meal.
Prepare Ahead of Time
For Thanksgiving, you want to visit with your friends and family, not spend all day hovering over the stove. Fortunately, much of the meal can be prepared ahead of time. Even the turkey can be baked the day before. Many side dishes can made two to three days ahead and refrigerated until the big day. Pies can be made weeks ahead and frozen. Cakes can be frozen, too, without the icing. They can be thawed the day before and iced.
Don’t Bake? Fake It
Maybe baking just isn’t your thing. Thanksgiving is not a test. You won’t fail if you purchase your desserts from one of the many wonderful Charleston bakeries. In fact, you’ll be doing your part to support the local economy. Transfer them to a beautiful cake plate for all to admire. Adding whipped cream or drizzling chocolate sauce will dress up some of the desserts as well.
Stay on Top of Clean Up
Don’t let dishes pile up while you’re cooking. Fill the sink with hot soapy water and wash the dishes and pots as you go. Line your pans with foil and throw it out after you transfer the food to the serving dish. Put dishes directly into the dishwasher instead of stacking them on the counter.
Enjoy the Holidays without the Stress
Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be a stress filled affair. With a little planning and organization, you can enjoy a time with your family and friends and create memories of a Lowcountry Thanksgiving that will last a lifetime.