Hosting The Perfect Thanksgiving Meal

Hosting Thanksgiving for the first time? If you've got a bit of the jitters, you're not alone. Many people, including experienced cooks, find this daunting for a number of reasons. With some of these simple tips, though, you'll be able to get more done, stay more organized, and be more confident about hosting a big turkey day!

Making a Plan

Making a Plan

You can't start too early in making a plan for your Thanksgiving meal. Get a rough headcount and size out your ingredient list that way, to ensure that you will at least not have a mountain of leftovers. One thing that very organized cooks like to do is prepare a timeline and master list, where you can cross off dishes as they are done. You'll then be able to visualize what you'll be doing on that day, and all the prep you'll be doing the day before.

Get Groceries Early

There's nothing worse than trying to fight for the last can of cranberries when you're supposed to be cooking. Getting the stock foods in your pantry ahead of time is a critical part of the equation. The flour and broth and even veggies that you buy ahead of time aren’t likely to go bad, given a reasonable nod to food storage, and you’ll be calmer and save precious time as you get your meal set up.

Don’t Turn Down Help!

Too many first-timers feel like they are abdicating responsibility if they accept any help in hosting this big Thanksgiving meal, which is exceedingly difficult for one person to pull off. Don't feel bad letting someone else bring many of the sides if you're doing the turkey, the pies, and everything else. Being okay with delegation frees up your hands for more of a smooth management of plating and everything else.

Consider Some Easy Recipes

Here's another big tip from some of the experts who understand the pressures of putting together a big Thanksgiving meal, in a restaurant, or for friends and family. You don't need to get fancy! Thanksgiving is a holiday based on early settler cuisine, and such fare was appealing in its simplicity. The pilgrims didn't have all sorts of unique spices and sauces for each dish. Instead, they used the flavor of roasted vegetables and meat to create the ambience that people love about Thanksgiving. Butter, salt, and pepper will be your guide!

Set the Table

Set the Table

It's also important to have the right resources on hand when you're ready to cook. That might mean buying a new casserole dish or roasting pan. It's not a bad time to improve your knife collection for carving. You might need pie pans if you're going to tackle homemade pies. With that in mind, another tip is to not be afraid to buy parts of your meal. Again, it's almost impossible to do everything on the big day by yourself.

The Final Rush

As your guests arrive, remember that early planning and delegation will allow you to have more fun while you're heading into the big meal. So having drink and cocktail stations set up instead of hand-serving drinks will free you up for other critical tasks. In fact, here's a little secret – more Thanksgiving cooks are choosing to actually cook the turkey ahead of time. Then they separate the meat in the tray and make a delicious gravy, and offer their pre-cooked bird to their dining audience – and it's surprising how often nobody knows the difference… So do Thanksgiving your own way, but consider these handy tips to get more out of your holiday mealtime.