7 Tips for Making Thanksgiving Prep Easier (and More Fun)
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. I love that the day is set aside for the sole purpose of gathering around the table, sharing a big meal with friends and family, and taking time to be thankful. This will be my fourth year hosting Thanksgiving in our New York City apartment (tiny kitchen and all!), and I’ve learned through trial and error some very valuable lessons about keeping things stress-free and fun.
Follow these tips and recipes below, and you’re guaranteed a fun and (relatively) stress-free Thanksgiving.
Set your table the night before. In fact, do as much as you can a day or two before – pick dishes that you can make in advance (check out the game plan below for ideas) and reheat just before guests arrive.
Don’t try and make everything yourself. One year I went all out and made the turkey, eight side dishes, and two pumpkin pies. It about killed me. This year, I’m doing the turkey and a few sides and asking my guests to each bring a favorite side dish or a dessert and a bottle of wine. Going potluck is brilliant because you won’t get stuck with all the cooking — and the cost. Plus, guests love to feel like they’ve contributed something to the meal.
Keep the menu simple. There may be 10 fabulous new recipes you are dying to try, but Thanksgiving is not the time to try them all. Use the menu below for ideas, but don’t try and tackle the whole thing!
Think about which dishes can be made in advance (the more, the better!), which ones will need the oven, which ones can cook on the stove top, and which ones need to be chilled. The timing of Thanksgiving can be tricky since the turkey is in the oven for several hours leading up to the meal, and there are usually other dishes that need to go in the oven too.
There is no shame in ordering some of your food from a local restaurant or a grocery store. Maybe you hate cooking turkey — order it! Or make the turkey and pick up a pumpkin pie at a local bakery. Enjoying your guests is the goal, and they would rather have a relaxed you than an over-the-top meal that keeps you chained to the kitchen all day.
Consider asking a friend to stay after and help with the dishes in lieu of bringing food, or hire someone for a couple of hours the next day to come help with cleanup. For me, this is the biggest stress-reliever of all-not having to do all the dishes myself!
At the end of the day, Thanksgiving is about being thankful, and spending time with people you love. So don’t lose sight of that important fact as you’re cooking your big meal!
Herb-Roasted Turkey with Maple Cider Brine (feel free to skip the brining if you’re tight on time)