You simply prepare and serve a harvest-themed feast for a massive group of ‘eclectic’ relatives while keeping your home spotless and your children off the America’s Most Wanted list.
You tastefully decorate in shades of burnt sienna and copper. You burn pumpkin spice latte scented candles.
You do NOT burn your house down. I repeat – do not burn your house down. This is not part of the plan. Keep a watchful eye on that oven.
Each of your seven gourmet, scratch-made pies are ready to go before your guests arrive.
Even though more than half of your guests never officially RSVP’d, you’re prepared.
There is seating for everyone, including the dogs that are apparently coming to dinner. Because…these dogs cannot be left alone. Whatever.
All that is left to do is enjoy lively, non-political conversation and bask in the glow of your own awesomeness?
Ummm…Yeah…If you didn’t detect my overwhelming sarcasm, I’ll let you in on the secret: Thanksgiving only goes like this in your dreams!
1. Get thee a bucket.
Visit any home improvement store to purchase a 5-gallon all-purpose bucket, which you can use to brine your turkey for ultimate flavor satisfaction. Just don’t use your bucket for this, for the love of God. And check ahead of time that the bucket fits inside your fridge, or plan to store it in your garage if temperatures are cold enough.
Rather than spending hours chopping everything yourself, visit the fanciest grocery store salad bar you can find and load up on pre-chopped goodness: onions, celery, peppers, bacon, whatever you need.
Set your Thanksgiving table the night before, so you’re not scrambling at the last minute. You can also do this with your Thanksgiving dinner outfit by choosing and then laying it out.
Print all your recipes before T-Day, and arrange them in order of preparation timing. You may even like to secure the printouts to your kitchen cabinets with painter’s tape to keep the flow going while you cook.
When you’re feeding a crowd, it’s tough to find enough space to stow all that food until meal time. If you don’t have an extra refrigerator to act as a pinch hitter, lug out your summer cooler and fill it with pre-prepped Thanksgiving food or any food currently taking up too much room in your fridge.
Your slow cooker is a great place to stash those perfectly buttery mashed potatoes or sugary sweet potatoes in a warm and cozy environment without sacrificing a stovetop burner. You could even warm green beans or stuffing in the crockpot on keep warm mode.
Oh yeah, I went there. Instead of manually cutting in butter for biscuits and pie crusts, grate that butter stick right into the mix.
My mom taught me this trick (because she is THE GREATEST!). To roll perfect pie or biscuit dough without the mess, grab a piece of parchment paper about the size you’ll eventually want the pie to be, and put it on top of your dough ball. Then roll it out with the parchment between the rolling pin and the dough. It works like a charm.
If you’re baking pie, you will need some sort of pie weight to prevent the shell from puffing up during pre-baking. Pie weights are expensive and rarely used. Instead, line the dough with foil or wax paper and use dried beans, uncooked rice or uncooked pasta to do the job.
It’s just not realistic to have fresh pies right out of the oven after you’ve already cooked enough for the whole neighborhood. Make your pumpkin or pecan pies a day or two ahead of time and keep refrigerated. You can do the same with cranberry sauce. On the big day, remove from the fridge and let the pies come to room temperature.
You don’t need a fancy-schmancy roasting rack for your turkey. Elevate your poultry on a chunky bed of carrots, celery and quartered onions. The flavor addition is a nice bonus.
This is pure genius: keep that luscious gravy warm in an insulated mug/thermos until serving time, then transfer it to a gravy boat.
If you overdid it on the turkey, don’t beat yourself up. Just drizzle it with warm chicken broth to bring back moisture and add flavor.
No official ice bucket for your white or sparkling wine? Carve out the inside of a pumpkin (no, not your spongy Halloween leftovers—a fresh one, dude). Throw a glass or metal bowl in there if it will fit. Add ice. Add alcohol. Voila! Festive pumpkin ice bucket.
What Thanksgiving tips and tricks do you swear by? Leave a comment!
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