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Your Guide to An Enjoyable Thanksgiving

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Hosting holidays can be a huge source of stress, but with a little planning and guidance, I hope you can love it as much as I do. I’m sharing my best tips and tricks (like pizza on Wednesday night!), along with a planning guide and plenty of recipes.

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Thanksgiving MUSTS So You Actually Enjoy the Holiday

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, I think it is IMPERATIVE to outsource some of the food and work. There is absolutely no reason that you need to do it all yourself and I think people appreciate brining something.

  • Start prepping a few weeks in advance. It’s not that you need to spend the entire month planning for Thanksgiving, but the more you can do in advance, the better.
  • Outsource or use shortcuts. See above. 🙂 Have your guests bring a dish or drink to help lessen your load, or take advantage of the prepared foods that your grocery store carries.
  • Prep in advance. One of the reasons I love the dry brine turkey is that you have to prep it a day in advance – so you’ve got the main already mostly done. Do what you can ahead of time so you can enjoy the day!
  • Simplify. You don’t need the most elaborate meal, complete with a signature drink, and an amazing table scape. Cover the basics, get help, keep drinks simple (wine, beer, and some NA and kid options!), and get some flowers.
  • DO NOT COOK MEALS the day before or morning of Thanksgiving. Order pizza, buy a frozen pizza, or go out, but do not cook. If you have guests who can throw together a breakfast charcuterie board, go for it, or just order baked goods to have that morning.
Thanksgiving plate of food with Italian sausage stuffing

Thanksgiving Planning Tips

Planning ahead is key to enjoying the holiday without the frantic rush to get everything done.

Two-Three Weeks in Advance:

  • Plan meal
  • Plan what dishes you will outsource or have people bring
  • If having a dress code, share with guests (our dress code isn’t fancy, but is “Holiday festive aka something with sparkle!)
  • Buy turkey
  • Order meal items or baked goods from your store

One Week Before:

  • Make grocery list
  • Roughly plan out dishes, glassware, and cooking dishes to make sure you have what you need
  • Make place cards – I like to have the kids make these
  • Buy turkey if you haven’t yet!

Four Days Before:

  • Grocery shop
  • THAW TURKEY!!!!
  • If you have space, start to gather cooking dishes, serving platters, and glassware
  • Clean kitchen if necessary

Two Days Before:

  • Prep dishes if necessary – I like to bring up and wash china
  • Prep drink station – grab wine chillers or beverage containers, glassware, mixers, wine openers, etc. (I like to set up drink station whenever I host so people can help themselves)
  • Dry out bread if making homemade Italian sausage stuffing
  • Cook mire poix for stuffing (or at least chop veggies)
  • Make desserts

Day Before:

  • Prepare dry brine turkey
  • Prep a side dish if you can (peel and cook potatoes, make salad dressing, etc.)
  • Set table and serving dishes (put a post it on dishes so you know what will go where)
  • Clean kitchen if necessary
  • Rest 🙂
Thanksgiving plate with Italian sausage stuffing

Thanksgiving Main Dish Recipes

The main event at my Thanksgiving table is always turkey! Once I spatchcocked my first turkey (well, Richie is usually in charge of this!), I have not looked back. It is easy to do (you do need a little muscle strength), helps cook your turkey faster, AND doesn’t require you to dry out the light meat before the dark meat is properly cooked.

Serving up platter of dry brine spatchcock turkey

Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

Keep it simple with sides, include 3-4 of your favorites, here are some ideas:

Bowl of kale pomegranate salad salad

Thanksgiving Appetizer Recipes

Put out a big cheese board out for Thanksgiving day snacking – it’s another great one to have someone else bring.

Baked brie with fig jam and bread.

Host Gifts

If you’re attending Thanksgiving, don’t forget a hostess gift! It doesn’t have to be anything huge, but it’s always appreciated and remembered. Here are some easy ideas:

  • Flowers – Make sure they are already in a vase so you aren’t adding any work
  • Nice coffee beans or tea
  • Freezer meal that they can make after the holiday
  • Fancy olive oil or flaky sea salt
  • Candles
  • Nice dish towels
  • Hand-written thank you note

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