Seasonal splendor is all around. Starbucks red cups are out in full force. Shopping malls are festooned with spectacular displays of holly and twinkling lights, and Halloween candy has been replaced with hot chocolate and candy canes. Yes, holiday season has officially begun!
If it snuck up on you, don’t fret. In preparation for Thanksgiving, we put together this ultimate guide to a perfect Thanksgiving. From turkey to the trimmings, use these tips to keep your Thanksgiving fun, festive, and stress-free.
Plan Your Menu Ahead Of Time
Plan your menu and get to the grocery store early. As in today. Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, and you need to know what you’re serving and how it’s going to all come together. Consider who will be attending your Thanksgiving, and plan your menu according to any dietary restrictions and preference. If someone is allergic cinnamon and you plan on baking a pumpkin pie, it might be nice to consider an alternative cherry pie or to have two dessert options.
The traditional Thanksgiving menu includes:
- Corn (corn was actually a currency that early settlers used to bargain with)
- Mashed potatoes and gravy,
- Green beans,
- Biscuits, and
- Cranberry sauce.
Tailor the above menu to your own taste and make it your own. Some people like to make a traditional turkey with sage-butter, but why not jazz it up with a new alternative? If you like spicy foods, why not try a Habanero-Brined Turkey, or a garlic smoked turkey, if you enjoy a delicate nutty flavor? The point here is to create a menu that you really enjoy making and, of course, eating — so feel free to shake it up a bit and have some fun.
Once you know what you’re going to make, move on to our next Thanksgiving tip.
Make those sides early
Sides are especially easy to prep before the big day – so why wait until the last minute to start your meal? Thanksgiving day can be a marathon-cooking day or it can be nice stroll. That will all depend on how you prep.
- Prep your turkey for roasting. If you’re planning on brining or dry brining your turkey, you can do that between one and three days ahead of time.
- Make your mashed potatoes early. You can make these the day before or even a few days before (if you want to freeze them). Simply, make them as you normally would, and store them properly. If made the day before, you can put them in the fridge. If you make them a few days before, you can freeze them in a freezer bag or container. When you defrost them or pull them out on Thanksgiving day, they might be a little watery. Put them on the stove to heat before your Thanksgiving meal, and add a little bit of milk or sour cream and stir them. They’ll fluff up in no time, and they’ll taste like you just made them.
- Since cranberry sauce contains a ton of sugar, it is pretty much a jam that can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer for awhile. Make this ahead of time. There won’t be any change in the consistency, and allowing the flavors to mix and mingle for awhile will actually make it taste better.
Keep those mashed potatoes warm
The only thing worse than lumpy mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving is cold, gluey ones. Use a slow-cooker to keep those mashed potatoes warm on Thanksgiving. Just be sure to give it a good stir every hour.
Check out this triple slow cooker, only on AdYoYo:
Use a thermos to keep gravy hot.
How many times have you made gravy only to have it go cold in 5 minutes? Totally sucks, right? You can’t leave it on the stove on low heat, either. It’ll thicken up into tar in half an hour and good luck cleaning that pot! Use a thermos to keep it warm. If it works for minestrone, it’ll work for your gravy.
Put Your Oven On Double-Duty
Most Thanksgiving side dishes have to be baked at 350-degrees. That’s really good news for you because that is the exact temperature you’ll be cooking your turkey. Put those food items that you want to cook the day-of Thanksgiving in the oven with the turkey. Just be sure to set multiple timers for each item and slightly adjust your bake-time each time you open the oven door.
Set up a soaking station
A lot of the stress that can come from Thanksgiving is the cleanup. Simplify your after-dinner cleaning by filling you sink up with soap and water. When dinner is over and you’re too stuffed to do the dishes, put those dirty dishes into the soapy water and let them soak for an hour or so until you are ready to get to them. They’ll clean up quickly and easily, leaving you more time to spend with your family and less time scrubbing dishes.
Keep it fun. Keep it light.
Half the fun of the holidays is getting ready for them, decorating – and getting into the spirit of giving, family, and friendship.
Feast your eyes on these Thanksgiving crowd favorites: