I worked far too long in catering to let something as wonderfully complex as Thanksgiving dinner just evolve.
I must have planning, and well before the launch of the event. Into a binder goes dividers with tabs labeled:Guest list: complete with addresses for invitations, phone numbers in case I need to call, personal preferences about food/drink and any allergies including environmental. I’ve found it far easier to find out if someone is allergic to cats before they start sneezing because of mine.
Menu: from the first nibbles in the midst of food preparation through the after dinner mints with all the recipes scaled to the size of the party printed out and slipped into plastic sleeves so I don’t ruin an inkjet copy just as I’m trying to make it.
Drink menu: both alcoholic and non-alcoholic including recipes if needed along with all the needed decorations to make them fun.
Decor/event necessities: I am a real slacker in this department. I manage to get clean starched linens, nice candles and some sort of centerpiece on the table. My friend Sandy would have lights, cameras, and all sort of action for her parties. Costumes were always a requirement. I’ll miss those parties now that she has moved away.
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Needed purchases: with sub categories of food, booze and disposables AKA a shopping list but broken down by stores so if I happen to be near the right place in the weeks leading up to an event, I can just zip in for the right things.
Equipment – especially if I am catering off-premise (anywhere other than my kitchen) because there will be a missing mixer, spoon, knife or peeler in the kitchen where you are supposed to be working, even if it is your Mom’s.
A Timeline: This one document lets me know my deadlines for gathering, responding and having all my ducks in a row.
Ok, so I’m a bit compulsive, but years of working catering gigs in weird places with equipment malfunctions, temporary kitchens set up in museums, on ships, tennis courts or gardens have taught me the benefits of planning.
This year I thought that maybe sharing a bit of my planning background might help folks just getting used to a gluten-free diet to enjoy their first gluten-free holidays.
I've graduated to multiple spreadsheets to keep the information year to year.
So sharpen your pencil, make your lists or just follow along as I plan a Thanksgiving Dinner for 8 .
If you have a specific question or a hoped for recipe, feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to find you an answer.