Today's entry will be a brief recap of Thanksgiving 2015. It's very important to stress the process of getting Thanksgiving 2015 up-and-running started sometime around February 2015.
If you are lucky, you will have a stationer nearby which carries Crane & Co. or similar. If you are diligent you will be popping by on a semi-regular basis, and if you are assiduous, you will head directly for the clearance bin to the exclusion of all other temptations.
For it is there, the clearance section, on some fine day/evening in February when you will find Thanksgiving stationery, forlorn and forgotten-ish, at +/-90% off. You should pounce.
The same applies -- should you not have such accouterments at your disposal -- to tablecloths, napkins and serve/flatware (disposable is fine, provided they are attractive enough). (For these, I scour Williams-Sonoma, both my nearby stores and online, as they sometimes have different pricing and selection.)
February is the time to get this at ridiculous prices. If the inventory on clearance is large enough, and the prices low enough, you have my blessing and my example to grab every single last one of them. You may be unable to score such a bargain for Thanksgiving 20XX and then where will you be?
Weeping bitterly, as Scripture saith, leading a life of regret and remorse.
From such a happy February day, until November, you may rest easy; do try to put all of these where you won't forget.
Then, when Halloween is gone, you can start rehearsing. I normally make one of the components for a given dinner or lunch, and put my family through the test panel process for this year's variation on turkey (get a small breast, not a whole critter) or stuffing or mashed potato, etc. This will allow you to hone in on what you want to slap on your menu cards which you bought back in Feb. for 74¢ for a box of 12, instead of $16.99.
It's an inexpensive thought, but it lets people know, at an instinctive level, that you are going to give them a real treat and that you as host(ess) really care about them while they are under your roof (or airspace).
There are a couple of things to note from my previous Thanksgiving thoughts of 2006(!)...and they mostly center on the turkey.
This year, one of the turkeys proved to be the single best turkeys I have ever cooked. In fact, it's one of the best things I have ever cooked. So here is that, the abbreviated version:
Brine the turkey 24h. (If you have a frozen turkey, brining and thawing simultaneously is a GREAT way to do two things -- quickly! -- at once.) My brine is 1½ gal. water, 1 gal. ice (8 lb.), 2 c. kosher salt, 1 cup sugar)
Remove from brine and air dry in the fridge another 24h.
Mix some of the herb rub (Incidentally, for oven roast turkey the seasoning rub is 50% kosher salt, 50% dried herb mix [3 parts sage, 2 parts thyme, 1 part marjoram] with a teeny bit of baking soda added in to the skin side to help with browning and crisping of same.) with about 3T of softened butter.
Apply this between the skin and meat.
Season generously with the rub, inside the cavity and outside.
Sprinkle ¼t baking soda over the skin.
Place in the oven at 425°F (220°C-ish?) for the first 30 min, then drop the heat to 250°F (120°C?) and continue to roast until the white meat registers 160°F (70°C?) and allow to rest until the internal temperature drops to 130°F (55°C or so).