November 3, 2008

Can you believe that we find ourselves in the throes of November and quickly approaching the holiday season?

It seems that only yesterday that nature ushered in the beautiful colors and vibrancy of Spring. Not to be outdone, Fall has burst onto the landscape with its own personal "bling": varying hues of orange, yellow, brown and green. Who doesn't love it?

Alas, it's time to begin the planning process for holiday dining and entertaining. I've begun to think a great deal about my Thanksgiving menu and, this year, I think I'd like to do things a little differently. History shows that I am a traditional Southern Thanksgiving type of girl. You know: Turkey, Dressing, Collard Greens, Ham, Sweet Potato souffle... This year I am going to try holiday culinary sacrilege something a little different: no turkey!

The Broke Socialite's 2008 Thanksgiving Menu
Corn Chowder
Mixed Baby Greens with Warm Bacon Dressing and Candied Walnuts
Herbed Lamb Chops
Lobster Tails
Potatoes Au Gratin
Oyster Dressing Muffins
Garlicky Green Beans
Coconut Cake
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Double Death by Dark Chocolate Brownies
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Peach Bellini Iced Tea, Wine, Champagne, Coffee
Have you decided your menu? Won't you share?

I've compiled some tips to help you create a memborable and cost-efficient Thanksgiving experience:
Consider partnering with friends and/or family to share some of the costs. Even in our current economic climate, you can still have a grand celebration if you pool resources.

Start planning your menu...NOW!!! It will be here before you know it. If you share in meal preparation with others, jumpstart your communications. This is a great time to research new recipes and conduct a trial-run, if necessary.

After you've planned your menu, develop your shopping list and calendar. Be sure to include specific action items, too. Example: if you're ordering dessert from a bakery, you'll want to put it on your calendar immediately.

Now is also a wonderful time to clean your pantry and refrigerator; you'll certainly need the extra real estate.

Clip coupons and grab weekly grocery store circulars for items from your shopping list. Purchase those items that might be on sale already. Try to wrap up all food shopping by the Saturday before Thanksgiving, if possible.

Take an inventory of all preparation dishes and cutlery, place settings, serving dishes, silverware, and stemware. If it's in your budget, invest in the missing pieces. Ikea, TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning and other discount stores are great for shopping. Do also consider borrowing from family and/or friends.

Dependent upon how formal (or not) your table decor might be, look for centerpieces. Nature can be a phenomenal source. A few gourds, leaves and candles can be elegant.

Should you decide to order from your local butcher, bakery or restaurant, do allow two weeks to avoid the holiday rush. Remember to record the name of the person who receives your order and ask if there are any special instructions necessary when you pick up.

Think about your entertaining space and backdrop. If you need additional chairs or a kids table, check out your local party rental store. Chairs can usually be rented for under $1 per day or less and tables typically under $10 per day. An iTunes mix (it's tried and true) is always fun; consider multi-generational selections if your guests' ages vary.

As you move closer to Thanksgiving Day, remember that it is a time for gratitude. Should you begin to feel overwhelmed by the tasks, reach out to friends and family and solicit their elbow grease.

Saving time and dollars are the fruit of deliberate planning and time management.
Enjoy the excitement of this looming holiday season!

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