Thanksgiving Dinner Hints

I can’t believe it is almost Thanksgiving. I know we have been moving through fall, but somehow I still think it is August. I spent all summer wishing for cooler fall weather, and now that it is here, I can’t seem to fully accept it.

We are hosting Thanksgiving this year, and I sat down to write a few thoughts about my preparations. I ended up with a long treatise full of tips I have figured out over the years. I am sharing a few today, and I will post the rest later in the week. I could go on and on about hosting a big meal, but I’ll try to restrain myself.

We hosted our first Thanksgiving the first year we were in our house, which is almost fifteen years ago now. Hard to believe it has been that long. We have hosted about half the time since then, some years we had almost twenty for dinner, and other years we had less than ten. The year we had twenty people I stopped up the kitchen sink with potato peels about an hour before we were going to eat. We managed to have a lovely dinner, off of paper plates, but the cleanup process was greatly complicated by the sink clog. And we still had to fix the clog after the party was over. Lesson 1 for Turkey Day: compost or throw away your potato peels. Don’t put them down the disposal. Really, just don’t. You will thank yourself later.

I got lots of advice from my mom that first year on cooking the turkey, and it turned out beautifully. I realized then that the turkey is almost the easiest part of the whole meal, as long as you leave the oven door closed. Opening the oven to baste the turkey lets out all the heat and lengthens the cooking time. Skip the basting and use the roasting time to work on the rest of the meal. Lesson 2: Leave the turkey alone – let the oven do its work.

Among our extended family, we share the cooking duties for holiday meals. I love to cook and bake, and I probably do more than I have to for holiday meals, but I do know when to ask for help. When someone asks what they can bring, I tell them. Unless they have something already in mind, I look at my meal plan and give them an assignment. Lesson 3: Let others share the cooking chores – you don’t have to do it all.

What are your top tips to ease the stress of hosting a big dinner party?

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5 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Dinner Hints

  1. Sarah,

    I agree that the turkey is the easiest part of the meal, and I always ask my guest to bring their favorite “specialty” dish. I will be hosting 17 at my house this year. Prepping as much as possible the day before is my best tip. I always try to bake my desserts the night before. We tend to eat very early, around 1:00, so having a head start makes the day less stressful! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Robin Swift Miller

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