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Tue Nov 27, 2012, 12:21 PM

My wonderful Thanksgiving and how we made it work

So, I rented a big house for a week and filled it with our 4 kids, their SO's, a couple of inlaws, my mother and various friends.

Before everyone arrived I made a big chart with breakfast and dinner each day. I further broke down each meal to cooking and cleaning. Each meal (except Thursday dinner) had two cooks and two cleaner uppers.

Each guest had a certain number of stickies. The number they had depended on their length of stay. Those there the longest had 4. Others had just one.

As each guest arrived, they were told to put their stickies on the board - signing up for either cooking or cleaning up certain meals.

The crew for each meal was responsible for securing the supplies, preparing, serving and cleaning it up. They were also responsible for drinks.

The stickies allowed easy changes and deals to be made. One of the beauties was that if you weren't on duty, you could just relax and not feel guilty about it.

Despite being given a lot of grief and teasing early on, the system was beautiful and worked flawlessly.

And we had fantastic meals for up to 18 people at a sitting.

Breakfasts:
Crepes
Bagels
Bacon/Eggs
Turkey Hash
Smoothies
Yogurt Parfaits
Beignets

Dinners:
Shepherds Pie
Quesadillas
Gumbo
Turkey Sandwiches
Ribs
Leftovers

Everyone is gone now, and as spectacular as the week was, the quiet of home is most welcome.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 01:45 PM

1. Congrats! Glad it went well and you all had a good time. And the weather, it was such a nice CA week

LOL. I bet you got some ribbing, but sounds like it worked. Good looking meals all around.

Was there much wheeling and dealing on slots? I could see trades being made as a bit of fun.

My family get-together meals are often a case of low level chaos. We're all sharing a house in Nor Cal in February (my niece is getting married). I might suggest allocating main meals to a couple of us each day to see how it flies...I know I'd volunteer to team up with my other niece who'll be there. She's a chef, so knows how to run a kitchen and I'm fine with "chop these fine, turn the mushrooms, taste the sauce to see if it's OK, did we uncork the wine?" etc.

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Response to pinto (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 01:55 PM

2. Weather was great and we had a blast.

Lots of eating, game playing, story telling, walks, exploring and even one sail.

The trading was great and was often hilarious. And no one felt that anyone else hadn't done their share. Often others would pitch in when not assigned, just because they wanted to.

Most meals did have a main chef and a sous chef, which also worked out great.

We left lunches to individuals - go out or eat leftovers. And the general rule was that if it was in the kitchen, it belonged to everyone (unless marked as needed for a specific meal).

For the Thanksgiving meal, we put up one big board and people wrote what they were going to bring or cook. So you could look at the list and see what was needed. Those that chose not to cook were assigned to clean-up and this also worked really, really well, as we had some non-cooks.

Hope you try it out. It was the best thing I did to prepare for this family reunion.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 01:55 PM

3. I love what you did! As a mom of 4 who had large holiday gatherings...

I applaud your organizational skills! Glad you had a good time.

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Response to Little Star (Reply #3)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 02:05 PM

4. My past experiences are what drove me to this.

In the past, there were a few "moms" who did pretty much everything. And we also felt guilty if there was a meal where we did nothing.

I can not tell you how great it was to sit back and be served by the "dads" and kids. And they took great pride in their meals.

Overall, a tremendous success!

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 05:41 PM

5. Hats off to you!

You're a wonderful organizer and delegator (my personal failing) as well as a terrific chef. Sounds like a lot of fun and good company! Welcome back!

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Response to yellerpup (Reply #5)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 05:47 PM

6. In the end, it saved me much more time than it took.

And it ended up being loads of fun - kind of like an ongoing party game.

The difficulty was getting the numbers to match. The number of stickies had to match the number or chores. It took me several hours, but the magic number ended up being 44!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, yeller pup.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #6)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 07:28 PM

9. We worked most of the time.

I made bits of our meal ahead, so I only had to roast the duck. Just the two of us. We saw "Lincoln" on Sunday. Daniel Day-Lewis owns his roles. The theater was packed with seniors. All seats taken! We love party games and I can see how your weekend would seem like one (done right, which you evidently did up to a tee) long party game. What a great vibe you created. This will be a Thanksgiving your guests will never forget.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 07:17 PM

7. Wonderful planning!

♥ I'm glad you had a great gathering!

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Response to Lucinda (Reply #7)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 07:22 PM

8. It was magic, Lucinda.

All four kids together is an amazing treat.
And then there was my 82 year old mother - the matriarch - to oversee everything.

I would do it every year if I could, but alas the cost is prohibitive.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #8)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 07:29 PM

10. That is truly wonderful. Mine was quiet, and great in it's own way, but big family

gatherings are soooo good! And a nice change of pace for you guys!

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 07:54 PM

11. You are amazing! I love your stickies idea....

it sounds like such a wonderful time.

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Response to livetohike (Reply #11)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 08:21 PM

13. Lots of fun and everybody participated with joy.

I was holding my breath there at the beginning.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 08:16 PM

12. Welcome back!

I'm happy that everything worked out well and that you had such a great time.

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Response to greatauntoftriplets (Reply #12)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 08:22 PM

14. Good to be back in my routine.

How was your Thanksgiving? Sounds like you got some tasty leftovers!

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Response to cbayer (Reply #14)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 08:46 PM

15. Ah, the turkey I am eating is leftovers from what I cooked on Sunday.

I left the leftovers with my niece. With three kids nearing the teens (!!!) -- and two of them boys -- I figured that they'd eat it up very quickly.

Thanksgiving was very good. I spent the rest of the weekend quietly as I am fighting off a cold. Since I just had one in October, I really don't want another right now.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 09:53 PM

16. we're doing kinda the same thing in June on the Oregon coast

I emailed your idea to my MIL for her thoughts

I did a 7 day river trip one time with 7 boats

each boat did dinner then breakfast and lunch the next day

it was wonderful only to have to pack one day's meals and do one day's work

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Response to NMDemDist2 (Reply #16)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 10:58 AM

17. Ah, the Oregon coast. What a perfect place for a family reunion.

This works whether you have access to groceries or not, but I could see it being particularly effective when people have to bring everything. The only difficulty would be duplication of condiments and staples.

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