Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to gather one’s friends and family near and celebrate the good things in life. It’s a time to, yes, give thanks and express gratitude and goodness. The fact that a feast is an integral part of the celebration is hardly something to frown about. However, it is very easy to go all-out with the festivities, and if one doesn’t make space for Thanksgiving in one’s kitchen, the day can be overwhelming.
If you are on deck to host Thanksgiving this year, preparing ahead of time is a helpful way to not be swallowed up in the tasks of the day. You’ll also find that you have more room than you think, but only if you maximize what you have. Consider these suggestions to make space for Thanksgiving in your kitchen this year.
Take Stock of What You Already Have
Thanksgiving dishes are often the recipients of a very specific set of spices. No need to buy more (and fill your shelves with them) if you already have them. This rule also applies to edibles beyond the spice rack. As you make your other Thanksgiving preparations, make a thorough list of what’s needed for the menu, then go through and check off what you already have. This relatively easy hack prevents the waste of money and food.
Clean Out the Freezer and Fridge
No matter how many people come over to celebrate the day, there are always leftovers. While this is great for meal planning for subsequent days, there must be space to keep that food. Long before the feast begins, consider clearing out the sauces and garnishes you tell yourself you will use but never do. Doing so is a simple yet dramatic way to make space for Thanksgiving leftovers.
Those who really want to be on the top of their game will also make space in the freezer. That way you can store some of the food for longer than the three days it takes for turkey to become questionable. If you don’t want to eat leftovers every day until December rolls in, free up the freezer too.
If your best efforts to make room are not enough to accommodate the cranberry sauce no one really wanted, there are other ways. If necessary, you can use cooling racks or cooking sheets to add de facto shelving in the fridge.
Clear Off the Counters
You always need more countertop space than you think you will, whether that be for preparing food, presenting food, gathering and playing games, or sitting around and chatting with drinks. Make space for Thanksgiving food and festivities by clearing away anything that doesn’t need to be on the counter. Store large appliances you won’t need for food preparation the day of (like toasters) and those you will after they are used. If Thanksgiving decor takes up a good amount of countertop real estate, consider removing it until the food is finished.
Turn to the Tabletop
As you make space for Thanksgiving preparations in your kitchen, the table may be an asset or a liability. Depending on timing and how involved your table setting is, you may be able to utilize the table in your food preparations. It can be a great spot to sit with others as you cut meat or peel vegetables. On the other hand, you may want to leave the table open for dishes to wait after they’ve been prepared but before the meal starts.
Unless you really love the ceremony of carving the turkey at the table, do so in the kitchen. The massive bird takes up quite a lot of valuable table space, and if you want the rest of the food close at hand, just plate enough turkey to satisfy and leave the bulk of the bird out of sight.
If you have more vertical space than real estate in the cabinets, try installing hooks or rods to hang your pots from by their handles. This keeps them readily at hand without filling up countertop space. We recommend doing this only if you like the look of hanging cookware since it’s a relatively permanent trick.
Be the Early Bird
If you have a lot of food to prepare, consider splitting up the task. Prepare whatever meals you can the night before. These may include desserts or foods that aren’t served hot. Breaking up overwhelming meal prep can clear up counter space on the day itself and minimize foot traffic during other preparations.
Take It Outside
Speaking of traffic, the challenge to make space for Thanksgiving preparations almost always means making space for the people doing the preparing. If the weather is amenable, take advantage if you have a deck or patio. It will help ease the chaos of people underfoot. This hint is really more of a backup and you shouldn’t depend on it, especially if you live in an area where late November is a roll of the dice weather-wise.
Get Ready, Set, Go
As you make space for Thanksgiving in your kitchen this year, remember that luck favors the prepared. Organize your utensils so you know where all your spatulas, serving spoons, and ladles are. Have your Tupperware and other storage containers ready for leftovers. Consider investing in a lazy Susan since they’re great for serving and for storing food in an organized way. Above everything else, enjoy your holiday and the people around you. Amidst the stress of the day, make space for gratitude and joy.