Host Thanksgiving like a pro
So, you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year? If you’re stressing, you’re not alone. This seems to be the most anxiety-ridden holiday to host, probably because it completely revolves around the food you’re preparing. If you mess up another holiday’s meal, at least there are presents to make up for it. But T-day is all about that turkey and everyone’s favorite you-can’t-skip-that side dish. Don’t worry though, we have some tips and tricks to help you host this year’s Thanksgiving like a pro.
Lists, lists, lists
- Grocery store
- Make yourself a list and get to the store a couple days ahead of time. Inevitably, there will be a forgotten item. So, allow yourself time for another run, instead of making that frantic call to your sister the day of: “I forgot the cranberries!” And make sure to double check all the “oh we have those” items—you don’t want to run out of salt in the middle of cooking.
- Action Plan
- Start with the time you’d like to eat dinner and work backwards. Think about which foods will take the longest to cook, and which dishes you could get out of the way ahead of time. You could start on roasted vegetables or casseroles the night before, or even just get the washing and chopping prep-work out of the way.
Recruit and accept helpers
When your guests ask if they can bring something, your answer should be: Yes! Just make sure you know who’s bringing what, so you don’t end up with three platters of brussels sprouts. Absolving yourself from a few side dishes can save you time and clear up kitchen space. Half the battle of Thanksgiving dinner is timing and using your space to its maximum efficiency. With that in mind…
Move your beverage station elsewhere
Glasses, a water pitcher, an ice bucket, bottles of wine…those can all be strategically placed outside of the kitchen, so you don’t have extra bodies in your cooking area every time someone wants a top-up on their wine. Reserve those extra bodies in the kitchen for volunteer green-bean-washers and potato-peelers.
And now for the main event—the perfect turkey
There are lots of approaches to cooking a turkey, but let’s start simple: use a meat thermometer. It’s the quickest, easiest way to ensure your bird is cooked thoroughly. You’ll want to get a read on the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. Each area should reach a minimum of 165 ˚F.  You don’t want to start carving and find the center is still raw. And on that note, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and sanitize anything that comes in contact with your raw turkey. Now that you’ve saved your family and friends from food poisoning, you can consider your Thanksgiving a success (in our opinion at least). Aunt Karen may set the bar a little higher, so here are a couple more ideas to really step up your game:
Consider buying two smaller birds as opposed to one giant one. They’ll fit in your oven easier, and you can keep one intact for your centerpiece (or for your Instagram), and have one to be carved ahead of time. Some even suggest that cutting up the turkey before cooking can be beneficial, as you won’t have to wait for the dark meat to catch up with the light meat.
Achieve the ultimate dining room ambience
If this is your first Thanksgiving as the host, you’re probably not used to serving large groups. Your meals are most likely served from stove to plate and carried to the table, but this family-style dinner requires multiple serving platters. You might need to dust off some of those “wedding registry” items from the backs of your cupboards or take them out of storage. And if you’re the type who plops down a roll of paper towels on the table for the majority of your meals, make sure to put some thought into your napkins. If you’re going for a formal setting, you’ll want cloth napkins, but if you’re keeping it casual, just make sure you display those paper napkins nicely.