(Closed) Hosting First Thanksgiving. Any tips?

posted 6 years ago in Married Life
Post # 3
5958 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2018

You gotta answer one question for us all here…roaster or oven?

Post # 5
4352 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@Meowkers:  My number one tip is to have appetizers ready before you think people will arrive. Everyone arrives hungry and early at my house and the appetizers keep guests in good spirits.

Post # 6
2906 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@Meowkers:  Oh man, I’m so jealous! I would looove to host a holiday… if only my apartment could fit everyone!

When I cook a big meal for lots of people, I find it helpful to make a schedule for when things should be started and finished. Write down all of your dishes and then figure out what steps can be done ahead of time – for instance, you can cut up sweet potatoes the night before, or cut the ends off of green beans, or make pies or cranberry sauce. Getting prep work done a day ahead of time is a huge help! Then draw out a bit of a schedule – like:

9 AM: turkey in oven

10 AM: start the green bean casserole

2:30 PM: turkey out of oven, stuffing into oven

Also, consider outsourcing some of the dishes. If your Mother-In-Law makes a great pumpkin pie and can travel with it pre-made, ask her to bring it! Most Thanksgiving dishes can travel an hour or two in a casserole dish or pie pan, so if there are some things you don’t think they’d mind doing to pitch in, I think it’s perfectly okay to ask.

Finally, browse the Martha Stewart archives for recipe inspiration! They’ve got some really yummy stuff. Or a food blog you like works too! I love Smitten Kitchen: http://smittenkitchen.com/recipes/#Thanksgiving

Oh, and make sure you have enough chairs and place settings for everyone, including water glasses, flatware, napkins and serving bowls for everything you’re making. And enjoy!!

Post # 7
5958 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2018

Ok, first of all, YOU CAN DO THIS!  It’s not nearly as hard as people will make you think it is, and really, Thanksgiving is all about prep work!

Prep, chop, and organize as much as you can the night before, depending on how big your bird is and the time you plan to serve, it could be an early morning, so save yourself the trouble and do as much as you can the night before.

 I like to do a turkey, rubbed down in butter, rosemary and thyme in the oven using one of those little throw away aluminum pans and the oven bags, since it keeps it juicy.

Remember to pull the neck and all the other goodies out of Mr. Gobbles before you cook him, there are usually two bags in there….so roll up your sleeves and dig deep!

It’s ok to peel and quarter potatos early, just put them in the pot your going to boil them in, cover with water and let it sit until your ready to turn up the heat.

Don’t be afraid to ask your seasoned relatives for an extra hand in the kitchen.

Hit up the guests to bring snacks and sides to save you some trouble.

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself and avoid freaking out no matter what happens!


Post # 8
1405 posts
Bumble bee

I agree with @Nona99.  I peel and cut my potatoes the night before and let them sit in the water.  I also get the disposable aluminum pan and use a bag.  I don’t rub the turkey with butter, I use safflower oil and different herbs.  Once it is in the oven, there really isn’t anything else to the turkey.  It is really not that hard.   

Post # 9
772 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

Make some stuff ahead of time.  The pies can be done the day before, you can just reheat some of the side dishes like sweat potatos.  Also, don’t feel bad about asking guests to pitch in if they ask what they can bring.  Let them take care of sides, or juices, wine, dessert etc. if they offer.  

Post # 10
8453 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

Rest your turkey when it comes out of the oven before you carve it.  Or better yet, deep fried turkey, comes out juicy everytime.

Post # 11
458 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

Have drinks ready on a tray as well when people arrive. Everyone is nicer with a little cocktail! We host a lot of parties and our signature drinks are always a big hit!

Post # 12
2463 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

we haven’t hosted Thanksgiving yet, but dh and i have been hosting Passover dinners for 6 years now, which is a similarly large, important meal for us (we had 14 this past year). we’ve gotten SO much better over the years mostly because we’ve learned how to manage the stress better. the main thing that we’ve learned is to do everything that you can do ahead of time before the day/few hours before hand! that way you won’t be flustered when people start arriving. so a couple things:

  • I now set the table the day beforehand, or at least that morning. that way I know I have enough clean plates, flatware, glasses, etc, or I can make sure to wash them so they’re ready. I get all cleaning done ahead of time as well. 
  • Anything that can be prepped early, do: chop veggies, assemble things early so they’re ready to go into the oven right when you need to do them, etc. you can make desserts and some other things a day ahead of time so they’re out of the way. 
  • make really specific, organized shopping lists that you’ve cross checked with your recipes (and plan out the meal early, too) and shop well before hand so you have time to run out and get more things if you need. 
  • make an oven schedule–planning how long each thing needs to cook, at what temperature, etc will help you organize the day. some things you can cook in the oven at the same time, but you don’t want to cook something that needs to be at 300 right after something that’s 500 because the oven will be too hot. also make sure not everything needs to be cooked in the oven–it might not all fit at once and then some stuff will be colder than others–stove top or crock pot recipes are your friend for mixing it up and making sure it’s all done at the same time approximately

Post # 13
772 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

Make some stuff ahead of time.  The pies can be done the day before, you can just reheat some of the side dishes like sweat potatos.  Also, don’t feel bad about asking guests to pitch in if they ask what they can bring.  Let them take care of sides, or juices, wine, dessert etc. if they offer.  

Post # 14
2775 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

Agree with PPs… do as much prep work as you can the night before… washing & chopping veggies, measuring ingredients, etc.

Make sure you have enough cookware and serving dishes for everything you’re planning to make.

Have some simple appetizers (veggies and dip, cheese and crackers… nothing too filling) for people to munch on before you’re ready to serve the meal.

And make a schedule of what needs to happen when (work backwards from the time you plan to serve the meal).

Good luck and have fun!!

Post # 15
2419 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

I feel like my family must be crazy or something, we do buffet style every single year.

Like a lot of people have said, don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring something. Again, this is what we do every year. One family does the turkey and the stuffing and then everyone else chips in with drinks/sides/rolls/desserts.

You’ve got this. Don’t worry.

Post # 16
2047 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

I’ve been helping my mom host Thanksgiving dinner for 20-35 people every year for the last 10+ years and we always serve food buffet style. Here are a few tips from our family:

1. Create a list of food items you plan to serve and buy your ingredients early. 

2. Have appetizers ready early as people will arrive early and hungry. Having appetizers prepared will keep guests occupied and out of the kitchen.  

3. Do as much prep work as possible on the day before. Organize your baking dishes, serving platters, silverware, dinnerware, cups, drinks, etc. and stock up on ice. Chop up salads, mix dry ingredients for stuffing, set the table, and do a quick clean-up of the house. 

4. Start your Turkey earlier than you think you need to. Between all the bastings, other baked dishes being checked for readiness, and numerous other reasons for your oven to be opened repeatedly, your turkey will likely take 25% longer to cook than the instructions indicate. Once it’s ready, cut it up, arrange it on a platter, and let it sit in the warming section for a few minutes. 

5. Since you have a large group, I’d suggest 2 protein sources. Turkey is the obvious one, but you may want to consider having a ham as well. 

6. Have your drinks station located away from your food buffet so that you don’t end up with a bottleneck effect. Same for desserts. 

7. Put desserts/pies in the oven right before you start eating and SET THE TIMER. Speaking from personal experience, it’s very easy to forget about a pie in the oven untill you smell the burned crust and then it’s too late. 

8. Have 2 outfits for the day: your cooking outfit (dark pants and medium-dark top, comfortable but not too blousy as you don’t want it to get in the way) which will be limp and smell of grease by the time guests arrive. Then about 15 minutes before you eat, take a moment to yourself, change into your dinner outfit and freshen up your makeup and hair. My mother had turkey bits in her hair last year before she changed her outfit and frshened up. Have someone trustworthy man the kitchen while you change (see below). 

9. Enlist the help of at least one or two other people who are comfortable in the kitchen. I promise your family will be happy to come early and help out and the extra set of hands will be invaluable on the day of. 

10. Lastly, remember that list you made of all the dishes that will be served? Keep it handy on the day-of and check them off as they are baked/broiled/sauteed/tossed/plated/served. That way you won’t find an unbaked sweet potato casserole in the fridge 2 days later (like we did one year). 

Final note: Enjoy it! Don’t stress if things go wrong; your families will continue to love you no matter how salty your mashed potatoes are (yep, we did that 2 years ago) or how tasteless your trukey ends up. Good luck!!

Edit: Holy Cow! Sorry about the novel I just posted; I didn’t realize it was so long!

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