Avoid Turkey Day Stress: Plan Your Dishware
By Franki Hanke
Thanksgiving parties ask a lot of your kitchen. Most years, we use all of my dishes in the day leaving multiple runs of the dishwasher. Streamline your day by pre-planning your Thanksgiving dishware ahead of time by dish.
How to Plan Thanksgiving Dishware
First, you’ll need to know your Thanksgiving menu. Reference your recipes and table when planning your dishes.
Dishes for Cooking
Pair each recipe with its appropriate cooking pan or pans. I recommend writing each dish out on a Post-it note and sticking it to the main dish as a landing place. Remember to look at all the cookware required as many recipes will require a stovetop portion and a baked portion like a saucepan on the stove and a baking tray in the oven.
It may be possible to re-use some pots if they only sit on the stove for a brief prep window, but it’s often harder to re-use baking dishes as the food remains in those to serve (or until serving).
Referencing your recipe, ask Do I have enough cookware for all of my recipes? If you don’t, buy more ahead of time or adjust your menu plans.
Dishes for Serving
The best cookware transitions from the oven to the table as cookware and serveware, but not everything can, so once you know all your cookware, look at the items you’ll move for serving. Most items cooked on a baking tray look nicer moved to serving platters or serving bowls.
Thanksgiving Tip: Keep guests happy during cooking by serving something that sits ready all day. Include some appetizer plates in your counts for this!
Our Recommendation: Investment Pieces
For stunning, long-lasting (dishwasher-safe) cookware that you can bring to the table, consider Le Creuset. It’s expensive, but backed by years of reliable quality and devoted fans, plus their color offerings can become a staple part of your kitchen’s style. To determine if the brand lives up to its price, Maxine Builder ran interdependent tests for The Strategist and found it did perform the best in heat-retention and in-person side-by-side does look the most attractive from the counterparts.
If you already own a few pieces of them, consider intermixing two to three colors together for a more varied, flexible color palette than sticking to only one colorway. Mixing colors looks especially sophisticated in open storage as there’s more variety for the eyes to look between.
If you lean towards a neutral color year-round but need more Thanksgiving dinnerware for holiday meals, consider mixing in a bolder extra color that fits the mood of Thanksgiving and/or Christmas meals you may host.
Build a neutral base with optional holiday flair by selecting cookware in the colors Shallot, Meringue, and Rhone. Shallot and meringue nearly meld together with a neutral pink and a toasted tan hue, but mixing in Rhone adds a seasonal brightness and melds with the pink undertones in both neutrals.
By picking up to three colors and sticking to them, you can grow your multicolor collection over time with timeless, home decor pieces. If mixing metal knob colors bothers you, they do sell replacements that can be swapped for cohesive metals.
Our Recommendation: Affordable Alternative
For a comparable alternative, look to Lodge. Their brand recognition rivals that of Le Creuset with a similar long history of quality. Their performance is similar, but they lack some of the refinement in their colors. That’s the trade-off for better price accessibility!
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Check that you’ll have enough spoons and servers to dish up everything you’re making from sauces to pies. Set each one out with its dish so you can visually count.
Thanksgiving Tip: Don’t worry about a gravy boat if you’ll never reuse it! A small ramekin and spoon work just as well for serving gravy!
Check Counts for Dinnerware
Along with your serving ware, you’ll need enough dinner plates, cutlery, and napkins for each guest. Don’t forget to consider if you need salad plates for bread or salads or dessert plates for clean dessert service. Be mindful that some guests won’t want to re-use a dirtied plate or flatware.
If you’re blanching at the mere idea of that many dishes, don’t fret. We’ve found the cutest disposable Thanksgiving plates you can use instead. They don’t look like cheap paper plates at all!
Check that you’ll have enough (including some spares) of a full dinnerware set: plates, forks, spoons, knives, and napkins. If you want reusable tablecloths and linens, we’ve shared our favorites for Thanksgiving in How to Host a Stress-Free Thanksgiving. Read here for more Thanksgiving table decor including centerpieces!
Count your drinkware too. Often, you can risk being a bit short on specialty cups like wine glasses as not everyone will drink the same thing. If you want to place glasses in your place settings, you’ll need enough for each spot ahead.
Thanksgiving Tip: Check that your plans aren’t bigger than your table. While you’ve already pulled things out, check out which dishes you’ll bring to the table or how your table setting looks. Mark locations for hot pots with trivets to store that place ahead of time.
Plan for Storage
Lastly, plan to store all those leftovers. If you’d like to send guests home with some of the food, grab disposable containers for them.
If you’re storing most of your food at home, I recommend classic deli containers. They’re sturdy, stackable, and dishwasher safe so you can clean them up and store them for the future. They aren’t as pretty as glass containers, but they are super functional and take up less space stored when not in use for when you need way more containers than normal.
For tricky shapes like pies, pick up these airtight pie containers to keep them fresh until you can eat them all.
Ultimately, Thanksgiving tableware is something you can plan well ahead with no risk unlike food, so take a bit of time now to run through your menu in your kitchen and spare yourself the headache later. After all, Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving dinner should be classy and easy, not stressful!
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