Setting up for Thanksgiving

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Setting up for Thanksgiving - Easier holiday setup

Setting Up For An Easier Thanksgiving

Here are some easy tips to make setting up for Thanksgiving go a lot smoother:

Short of seating space for your holiday dinner? Pull out your ironing board (some of you may not remember what that is. HA!HA!). Throw a table cloth over it and it works great as a kids’ table. Because you can move it up and down to different heights you can adjust it to the height of the chairs that you have or to the heights of the kids.

No kids coming to your party or dinner? Use the ironing board as a buffet table. Once again, cover it with a table cloth and use it for platters of cookies, bowls of Chex Mix, etc.

The ironing board can work well as a serving table, too. If your dining table has room for everyone to sit but not enough room for all of the food, set up the ironing board close to the table (being narrow means it doesn’t take up much space) to hold the serving dishes. Then mom or grandma won’t need to jump up and run to the kitchen every time someone needs seconds.

Some ironing boards are a little wobbly but if you put your ironing board on a hardwood or tile floor or up against a wall, that will help. Use your own judgment in setting it up and determining what is light enough to put on it. I probably wouldn’t put my heavy crystal heirloom punch bowl full of punch on it, but a basket of dinner rolls, chips or cookies would work fine.

It seems that no matter what you do when setting up for Thanksgiving, there are always so many last minute things to do the moment before you get ready to set everything on the table. One of those last minute things is mashing the potatoes. This year, you can stay ahead of the game by mashing them early and keeping them warm in your crock pot. They will keep up to 2 hours on low in the crock pot and will be just as fresh as if you had just mashed them. Put them on low and grease your crock pot. They start going down hill after two hours, so don’t leave them in there any longer.

Cranberry sauce is always on sale for a very good price this time of year. Stock up on it and use it through out the year. You don’t need to save cranberry sauce just for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. It makes a nice change from the usual side dishes you serve with chicken or ham in February or August. As an added bonus, it is really good for you. Don’t forget dried cranberries, too. They are great in homemade trail mixes (mix up some trail mix for Christmas gifts), or tossed into your favorite quick bread.


photo by: hitokiri


  1. Donna B. says

    I actually mash my potatoes the night before, refrigerate overnight. Then I heat in the microwave and then put on low in the crock pot. It worked fine for us, no one knew I’d done them the evening before.

    We love to have white turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce in a sandwich the next day!

  2. Sandi says

    I like to stock up on whole cranberry sauce while it’s on sale. I use it to make a type of cobbler, using any kind of crumble topping on top. I sometimes use a little additional sugar or sweetening in it, since the cranberries are so tart.

  3. Grandma says

    I do the whipped potatoes while other things are getting done. I put them in the bowl for my stand mixer and get the youngest helper to watch them.
    They are pleased that they helped and I have one less job to do.
    I enlist the little ones since by dinner time they are bored and looking for mischief. Give them a job and problems are solved before they become problems.
    I open tins of cranberries on both ends so even a 6 year old can push the berries into a bowl.
    5 year olds can arrange fresh vegetables or cookies on a plate.
    Set up some space on the table for the young ones to do the jobs away from the hot pans in the kitchen. It only takes a min or two to get the mess gone and plates put there instead.
    Use the not quite teens to carry dishes to the table.
    Use the teens to stand by the table and take the dishes from the younger ones and put them further back on tables.
    Get the men to carry chairs from other rooms and place them at the table.
    Involve everyone and nobody has to be exhausted and too frazzled to enjoy the meal.
    My grandmother did this type of meal serving for about 80 years and she got the idea from her mother. So I guess it works. Always has for me.

  4. Jane says

    I wanted to take a moment and express my gratitude to you for all the helpful hints that I get to enjoy almost everyday. Just reading them (not counting using them) puts me in a cheerful mood to know that we can have so much fun with our everyday chores. Your holiday ideas just express the season and help in tremendous ways to make my life easier and more enjoyable in my day to day tasks. Thank you and God’s Blessings!

  5. Maggie says

    Our Thanksgiving table used to be so full of family and this year we are down to my husband, my son, and me. I am so glad that over the years we took pictures of the crowded tables. It’s nice to remember the days when both our parents were alive to share the dinner. Last year, we did not get a picture of the table with my mother-in-law and this year she is no longer with us.
    I would recommend that you take a picture every holiday dinner so you have it. I am going to find all our yearly pics and put them in a frame and bring them out every Thanksgiving as a remembrance.
    Happy Thanksgiving and God’s Blessing for Everyone.

  6. barb~ says

    Taking a picture is a super idea! I have a white tablecloth that I have everyone sign each we are together, and I write the date beside the names. I’ve done this six years. The first year we put my newborn grandson’s footprint on the cloth. Now he’s almost seven and he can’t believe he was ever that small!! It’s been really fun to do this for our whole family.

  7. Kris says

    The ironing board idea is brilliant! Love it!

    We buy whole cranberries and freeze them to use throughout the year. Making homemade sauce is super easy and quick and can be done several days ahead and refridgerated. Just follow the directions on the back of the package (use more sugar if you’d like!). I put homemade cranberry sauce over turkey meatballs during the year for a change of pace in our meals.

  8. Ann says

    Thank you both for all the wonderful help you give us all year. I have learned so much from you and the readers who comment.

    • says

      Thank you Ann. We do so appreciate our readers when they take time to post a comment. I know I say it all the time but we really do have some of the nicest and kindest readers.

  9. d. tallent says

    my friend makes jelly with crannberries that she buys and freezes, while in season. It has the flavor or tanginess of wild plum jelly. A real treat.

  10. Mary Jane says

    I had a good laugh about using the ironing board as a side table. I really have found my people on this site! We have a tiny kitchen, and when all 6 of us sat around the only dining room table in that kitchen, things got pretty tight, especially if we had company. My husband and son made me a fold down ironing board that was housed in a tiny, grandfather-clock-like cabinet that sat on the edge of our dining room. At big functions, we always pulled down that ironing board to use as extra table space. I was also not above putting a clean cutting board over the lidded garbage can, covering the whole thing with a fresh cloth, and using that as a side table to hold drink pitchers, or an extra bowl of veggies. My family still jokes about putting out all “our best of the best” items for when company came. Somehow, we always managed. Thanks for the memories.

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