It’s everyone’s favorite Thursday in November, and there’s no secret why: it’s full of family, friends, and, let’s face it, lots of great food. If you’re the host, though, then Thanksgiving is sure to hit a little different. Sure, it’s still a blast the day of, but it’s also a lot of work in preparation and on the actual day. With these tips — and our kitchen appliance reviews, of course — the actual day should be a little less stressful for you. If you’re in full planning mode, we recommend reading this blog post and Here’s Your To-Do List for the Week Before Thanksgiving, another one of our popular posts. Happy planning (and eating!).
Here at Home Kitchenary, we aim to be your go-to source for product reviews. From the kitchen to the garden, our product review website has it all. Browse through our following tips for how to host Thanksgiving, and drop us a comment to let us know you were here and which kitchen appliance reviews helped you the most!
Plan Dishes in Advance
In the month(s) leading up to Thanksgiving, we enjoy some of our favorite new dishes. Why? Because Thanksgiving day simply isn’t the time to experiment with new recipes. When you have friends or family coming over for an extravagant meal and quality time, you don’t want to be stressing over the exact right way to make this new-recipe-you-found-online-but-you-don’t-actually-have-a-clue-how-to-make.
To be honest, we learned this one the wrong way. We were trying a new recipe for the holidays a few years ago, but it was on the actual day (coincidentally, it’s now one of our very favorite stuffing recipes: Wild Rice Stuffing With Apples, Pecans and Cranberries). Unfortunately, even though we had a detailed schedule for cooking, we didn’t anticipate what dish we would use and how hot it would get. Our beautiful stuffing came out of the oven—looking better than ever—and I kid you not, it promptly exploded into a fit of rice and glass all over the kitchen. Now, I’m not necessarily saying that I would’ve wanted this to happen a few weeks prior either, but I can also readily admit that I would’ve preferred for it not to happen 30 minutes before a Thanksgiving feast with my in-laws at my house. So yes, ultimately, I would’ve rather experimented with this meal in advance. (And checked out some more kitchen appliance reviews before buying that particular dish.)
I want it to be clear that this doesn’t mean to not try new recipes—that’s what keeps cooking fun! It’s just that you shouldn’t be attempting new dishes on the same day you’re serving them to a room full of people.
Make sure to have a couple family favorites in there (it’s not Thanksgiving if my mom’s sweet potato casserole isn’t prominently featured), experiment with some new ones (with plenty of advanced notice), plan a fun cocktail (or two!), and then get to work with the schedule.
Make a Schedule for Cooking
When you’re working with one to two ovens, it’s imperative to get economical with your space and time. If the stuffing is going in at _____ time at _____ degrees and the pies need _____ minutes in the oven (along with _____ minutes to cool) and the sweet potato casserole needs to be served piping hot; oh and all of this is happening while the turkey is still in the oven at _____ degrees… yeah. You can see how all of a sudden you’re wishing you had chosen rocket science as a career after all! Here are our tips:
- Make as much ahead of time as possible. In fact, I think pies actually taste better the day after being made! Pies can easily be made in advance, as can other dishes you’re going to prepare. If you can’t cook it in advance, then how can you pull or mix ingredients to make the cooking easier later?
- Prioritize. The turkey is obviously a key part of, ahem, turkey day. Make sure to plan enough time to make the magic happen.
- Delegate. What side dishes can a guest bring so it’s one item less on your metaphorical plate and one more item on your actual dinner plate?
- Make a shopping list. And we mean a detailed shopping list. Every last thing you think you may need goes on that list (you can always return it later if you end up not needing it), and you get your shopping done with as much time to spare as you can manage.
- Order some warming trays in advance. We’re convinced that warming trays are one of the most underutilized kitchen products. Timing just a bit off? One item was finished faster than you expected? Guest showed up with a dish early and you don’t want it to get cold? The answer is simple: a warming tray. And don’t worry—you’ll use warming trays way more throughout the year than just on Thanksgiving.
- Get boozy. You’ve made a schedule and you’re stickin’ to it. But life happens, dishes break, and you run out of ingredients you thought you had plenty of. Make sure your guests have a festive cocktail or a chilled wine in their hands, and then who cares when you’re running 30-60 minutes behind? Don’t forget to save a glass for yourself 🙂
Design the Perfect Table
Hopefully you don’t have to get as intense about seating arrangements as wedding planners do, but it’s good to have a table set-up in mind. From the actual seating assignments to table decor, have it planned in advance. For example, we use our nice napkins, like, twice a year, and I can guarantee you they are folded yet incredibly wrinkled in their cupboard right now. Make a plan in advance to have linens out—and ironed—so that this isn’t yet one more thing to accomplish on the actual day of Thanksgiving.
We recommend fully setting the table the night before; it’ll look great, you’ll know exactly what you still need to work on, and it will give you a sense of accomplishment right before bed. Read kitchen appliance reviews to make sure you’re getting the products you need for both the kitchen and the table—many will work for both!
Here are some other items we recommend for your Thanksgiving table.
Don’t Forget Everything Besides Food
There’s a lot more to Thanksgiving than just the food and the table setting, especially if you have people coming into town and staying with you. Non-food prep, which includes everything from prepping the guest room to tidying the house, is still vital to a successful holiday. Think backwards: what will your guests need after dinner and the night wind down? Start your list there and do as much of this in the week leading up to Thanksgiving as possible.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
It is a holiday, after all! With friends and family in town and food in abundance, it’s important to make sure you’re still having fun and enjoying your time with loved ones. Delegate as much as you can—and prepare in advance!—so that the actual day can be as stress-free as possible. Here are some other blogs we’ve written that can help with the fun:
- Fall Craft Ideas to Keep Everyone Entertained This Thanksgiving
- Sandwiches & Soups: What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers
- 6 Tips for the Day After Thanksgiving
If this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving for others (or even for just a couple of friends), you may be in need of some kitchen products to help make the magic happen. Remember, these are an investment for many years to come! As you know, we’re all about kitchen appliance reviews, and we put some of that research into Simplify Thanksgiving With These 14 Kitchen Appliances. Check out this blog and see if there are any products you need to buy now before the hustle and bustle of the holidays starts really showing up.
Here at Home Kitchenary, we’re your go-to product review website. Let us know in the comments if there’s a kitchen appliance or house product we can research for you, and Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃🍁🧡