Thanksgiving dinners are one of the most lavish meals of the year. A good turkey can take days of thawing and hours upon hours of preparation and cook time. Authentic cornbread dressing is not a simple task either. A dinner of this scope can take a lot of planning, time, and effort to pull off successfully. So if you are planning on hosting this year, here are a few tips to not only make your meal a success, but to help keep your sanity as well.
Planning ahead will take a lot of your stress away, because it allows you to focus on tasks as they come to you. You should start by planning on your guest list. Knowing how many people will be showing up will help you decide on how much food you will need to prepare. It will also give you an idea on whether or not you want to have people bring some things, potluck style. If you do plan on having people bring things, let them know how many people are going to be attending and coordinate with everyone involved to make sure you don’t end up with 14 different green bean casseroles.
Another thing to plan is the order in which you decide to cook everything. If you end up doing the whole meal yourself, you should definitely begin prioritizing what you are going to cook. For instance, a turkey can take up to a week to thaw completely, so having it bought up to a month in advance would be a good decision. Since you have already noted how many people you are expecting, buying a bird of the appropriate size should not be a problem. A rule of thumb is to estimate 1 lb. of turkey per person. So if you are having 12 people over, you should buy at least a 12 lb. turkey.
If you are planning on doing cornbread dressing, this should be higher on your priority list due to its prep and cook time as well. If it is homemade, the prep time is about an hour, longer if you have never made it before. If you are doing homemade pies, those should be high on the list as well. Basically, any side or dessert that requires the oven should be a priority when planning out your meal. Finishing them first means you can use your oven to keep them warm until the guests arrive.
If a lot of these recipes are new to you, make sure you keep a binder on hand to keep all of your recipes organized. Also, don’t be afraid to get some outside help if you feel overwhelmed. Thanksgiving is a time for sharing, and turning your meal into a group project amongst your guests might turn out to be a more fun experience than trying to do it all yourself. Making the entire experience an event for everyone can be a memorable experience for everyone.