Here is my take on suggestions from The Simple Dollar for a sane and thrifty Thanksgiving.
Serving a raw veggie tray as appetizers is great for everyone watching their diet. I don’t find that raw veggies really fill you up for long. You need something with fat and/or protein in to do that. How about a cheese dip for the veggies?
I find that a cheese ball helps keep people from being too hungry much better. You can buy cheese balls or easily make them for not much money. Just serve them with crackers or small toasts. You could even spread the cheese on celery sticks to combine the 2 ideas. That’s pretty tasty too.
For kids you could spread some peanut butter on the celery sticks & add raisins for “ants on a log” or add dried cranberries for “ladybugs on a log.” Adults like them too. The peanut butter adds fat and protein, so it helps fill people up like the cheese does. You can also ask some guests to bring appetizers to add variety.
Do as Much as You Can Before Thursday
I like the idea of setting the table the night before. You can even put little notes in the serving dishes saying what food will go in them. It’s easy to forget otherwise.
Making as much of the meal in the days before is usually a good idea. He says to make the turkey on Tuesday and slice it, so that you just warm it up on Thanksgiving Day. Works for me. We always bake pies on Wednesday because the oven is busy on Thursday. Refrigerate the pies after they are cool.
Sweet potatoes and potato dishes (including mashed potatoes) can be made on Wed. and warmed up on Thurs. for the meal. Rolls from the bakery can be put in a crockpot on low on Thurs. to be warm. If you can get extra crockpots from guests, it helps to keep the dressing, potatoes, and many other dishes in crockpots to keep them warm for serving. I love using crockpots for big meals like this.
Make It a Potluck
Try to get guests to bring food if they live nearby. Tell them it’s a potluck & you would love it if they would bring their “famous cranberry salad,” “that green bean casserole everyone loves,” “that great veggie platter we love so much,” “your wonderful pecan pie” etc. If they have traveled from a distance, use your judgment about asking them if they would mind bringing some beverages: wine, juice, soda pop, etc.
Keep a list of your menu & who is responsible for what posted on the fridge or on a clipboard in plain view in the kitchen. Phone people a day or two before to remind them of what they agreed to bring. Ask them if they are still bringing it. If they can’t make the dish, ask them to bring a bag of pretzels/chips or drinks instead. Then you can decide if you want to make the missing dish yourself or if you can do without it.
Have Too Much Food
One tip I really agree with: it’s better to have too much food than too little. You can always eat the leftovers. If you are not sure if you have enough add some corn or other vegetable to the meal even if it’s canned or frozen. Extra desserts seem to fill people up too. And many leftovers, including the turkey, can be frozen to use later.
And the day after Thanksgiving you can enjoy all the leftovers with no work! I try to make notes the day after as to what worked well & what didn’t/needs to be improved. That way, each year it gets easier and easier. You just have to remember where you put your notes! lol