cook panics over overcooked thanksgiving turkey in oven

5 Things to Make Thanksgiving Manageable

No holiday is America is more centered around food than Thanksgiving. Traditional Thanksgiving dinners are elaborate affairs which take days, if not weeks, of planning. While everyone else is enjoying the company of family and friends, you should not feel trapped in the kitchen. Here are five ways of making it easier to survive hosting a Thanksgiving dinner.

Get a Headcount Early

Send out invitations early and emphasize the importance of replies. They are vital if you want to make sure everyone is well fed without generating enough leftovers to last until next year.

Be sure to consider how many people can actually be fit around the table and whether you’re willing to relocate some to card tables or even to the living room with TV trays. Remember that tables and countertops are going to be full of food, so squeezing extra people around the table will be a nightmare.

Shop Early

Thanksgiving meal staples often sell out before the actual holiday. Buy non-perishable items early, and make sure there’s room in your freezer for a frozen turkey, which disappear from grocery shelves particularly quickly.

Cook Early

Not everything should be done Thanksgiving day. Consider what foods can be prepped or cooked ahead of time and then frozen.

Also, have a plan as to what order food will be cooked. You only have so many ovens and stove burners. Some dishes may need to be prepared and then set aside earlier in the day.

roasted turkey garnished with cranberries on a rustic style table decoraded with pumpkins, gourds, asparagus, brussel sprouts, baked vegetables, pie, flowers, and candles.

Consider a Potluck

Potlucks are a common way of assembling Thanksgiving meals without placing all of the responsibility on the shoulders of the host. Make a list of needed items and have guests sign up for them. It’s important to know who is bringing what. Otherwise, basic things may go missing while you have more mashed potatoes than you know what to do with.

No matter how you’re assembling the meal, keep in mind what sort of table space is needed to hold it all. This is particularly important if some food is going to sit in crock pots, which require access to electrical outlets.

Consider Catering

If all of this sounds incredibly taxing, there’s no shame in having at least some of the dishes catered. Turkeys can be purchased fully cooked from a variety of sources. They’re the most taxing aspect of cooking a Thanksgiving meal: they need to be stored frozen, thawed, stuffed and then cooked for hours which can be hard to predict. Farming out that task to experts relieves a ton of holiday cooking strain.

Just remember to put your order in early. Plenty of other people have the same idea you do.

The key to making a Thanksgiving meal a success is early planning. Find out how many people you’ll be cooking for, then collect and prepare as many items as you can before the actual dinner, freezing what you can. Having an attack plan for Thanksgiving itself keeps things flowing in the kitchen. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s from your guests or from professionals.

Images copyright: cookelma / 123RF Stock Photo and evgenyb / 123RF Stock Photo