The following is a guest post.
Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be one of the most stressful events of the year. It takes impeccable planning to do it properly. That means a high level of organization, which some of us are seemingly incapable of. It’s even worse if you haven’t started planning yet. We’re just two weeks away and — gasp — there’s just so much to do! But by using technology we can make the planning task just a little easier.
Tablets and smartphones
Mobile devices have evolved into all-in-one devices lately. They can help you plan anything. The two devices that work best here are tablets and smartphones. Smartphones are probably already a familiar topic. It seems that everyone has one. While the iPhone might seem the most popular, you have a lot more choice when it comes to Android smarpthones. That’s where we’ll focus.
Tablets have become another big advancement in mobile technology. While they’re similar in many ways to smartphones, they’re far more powerful. In fact, they can take the place of your paper organizer. It will have all the functions you need to properly plan a phenomenal Thanksgiving dinner. The smartphone will be like its caddy, something you can use when you need some help.
The to-do lists
Buy the Turkey. Make sure to thaw the turkey a few days before cooking. Go get decorations. Plan the soundtrack. There are just so many things, both big and little, you need to take care of. Your tablet becomes immediately useful here.
On Android tablets you can take advantage of Google Calendar. It’s intuitive software that lets you plan things on certain dates. Need to get the turkey by a certain date? Put it on there. Need a deadline for inviting certain guests? It can go there, too. You can even add events on your computer, which makes life easier.
For your to-do lists you can install an app such as Ultimate To-Do List. This allows you to plan out all the things you need to do, and check them off when completed. This is perfect for your Thanksgiving planning, since its a 14-day trial. That gives you enough time to use it and try it. If you don’t need it for future event planning, it won’t cost you anything.
The shopping list
My parents always hosted Thanksgiving when I was growing up, and my favorite part was going to the store to shop with my mom. It was such an ordeal that we both got carts, which made me feel like a big boy. She’d hand me half the list and I’d get to fill up my cart. I’m convinced that I learned how to properly shop because of those Thanksgiving dinners.
Problem is, she’d always forget something. That meant Dad had to go to the store to get it, and that annoyed Dad. I’m not sure that a tablet/smartphone combination would have helped, but it definitely would have made a difference. There is a great app for grocery shopping called Grocery Gadget. It lets you create multiple shopping lists on the web, which then sync to your tablet and smartphones. So not only could Dad have double-check the list, but he could have add items from wherever he is. When Mom and I went shopping we’d have seen those items on the list, and there wouldn’t be much forgetting of anything.
Thanksgiving, at least in my family, has always been a time when we’ve shared our favorite and most famous meals with each other. Mom had her special green bean dish. Aunt Maria had her yams and pineapple side. Grandma made the most delicious stuffing. But sometimes you want to switch things up. Again, tablets can come in handy here.
Recipe apps such as Epicurious and Allrecipes are wonderful tools that help you create new and delicious meals. That will make for quite a surprise when the family brings over the same old dishes, and you have something brand new for them. You can even set up your tablet while you cook, so the recipe is right in front of you.
You know why else you should have your tablet in front of you while you prepare your meal? Because it can help you make sure everything times out perfectly. Ditch your egg timer and switch to a timer application. It will make life a thousand times easier.
A free app such as Timer will suit your needs. It allows for multiple timers, so you can have a dozen things going at once. You can use it not only to time what’s cooking, but you can time your preparation. For instance, if you need the cornbread in the oven by a certain time, you can set a buzzer for that. If you go over you know you have to adjust accordingly. This is so greatly superior to traditional timers that I can’t fathom ever using one again.
Picking your tablet
The best part about Android tablets is that there is one for everyone. If you don’t have much use for a tablet outside of simple planning features, there are plenty of tablets under $200, such as models from Coby and ARCHOS. They’re not the most reliable, but if you don’t need them often they can come in handy for your limited needs.
If you plan to use the tablet for more than just a few events — and you can probably find a way to use a tablet in many aspects of your life — there are high-end, heavy-duty tablets available. If you’re always on the go you can check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which is the Android tablet most comparable to the iPad. It uses T-Mobile’s 4G data, so you get fast speeds wherever you’re going.
Tablets might seem like needless devices that people use to read books and watch movies, but they’re really so much more. Used properly they can help you in many areas of life. As you can see, a tablet will make planning your Thanksgiving dinner, or any dinner party, so much easier. It’s nice when we can take advantage of technology, rather than becoming slaves to it.
Joe Pawlikowski is the editor of Prepaid Reviews, where he provides information about prepaid cell phones coupled with over 17,000 consumer reviews of 30+ service providers from Tracfone to Verizon prepaid.