10 Tips for a Successful Thanksgiving

10 Thanksgiving Tips

The time is here for turkey and all the wonderful side dishes, desserts, appetizers, college football and of course the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  Thanksgiving is a great holiday, but it does require a decent amount of planning and preparation to be pulled off without a holiday melt down.  Mom has been doing this for years, and most people have just enjoyed the fruits of mom’s labor.  For all of you who don’t have Thanksgiving down to a science, here are 10 thanksgiving tips that hopefully will help you make more memories and less mess.

1. Timing for Success

Foods take more or less time to heat/bake etc. Know which foods should start being heated first and at similar temperatures so that the majority of foods come out hot and aren’t absent from the table for the first half of the meal. If you have a small oven, this is really hard as nothing else will fit except the turkey. If a relative lives close that is attending, think about using their stove then run the food back home when it is turkey time.

2. Frozen in Time

Allow enough time for the turkey to defrost. A 20lb turkey can take days to defrost, if you need to accelerate the thawing process it is recommended to use a cold water bath (not hot, as this promotes salmonella bacteria growth which will have everyone spending Thanksgiving in the E.R.).  If you are going to deep fry your turkey, a frozen turkey will kill you and set your house on fire if you drop them in a turkey fryer.

[youtube width=”575″ height=”344″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4FfahAfIXA[/youtube]

3. Buy Enough Booze

Most stores are closed, so know who the drinkers are before the holiday and provision at least 8 beers or 1 bottle of wine for each of the lushes in your family.  Having a well stocked bar around the holidays is never a bad idea, so always have a bottle of vodka, rum and whiskey in your bar. (Not advocating getting trashed, but better to be prepared)

4. Don’t Feel the Burn

Keep checking the rolls, once you put them in the over they can burn in a second or end up too crusty, or as hard as a rock.  Rolls are one of the best part of the dinner; good for dipping in gravy, lathering with butter and for leftover turkey sandwiches.   You don’t want to make something that is better off being used as a self defense tool?

5. Don’t Talk Politics

November is election month, and nothing incites a family gathering smack down like opinions on spiked eggnog.  Unless there is a soapbox in the middle of the dining room, politics are really best left for another occasion.

6. Sides not Sidelined

Make as many side dishes as you can the day before, not the day of.  Green bean casserole, Squash, Cranberry Sauce (fresh, can doesn’t count) etc.  If it can simply go into the oven and bake or warm up, you will be ahead of the game on T-day and you won’t find yourself in a panic or not even enjoying the holiday because you are being held prisoner in the kitchen.

7. Turkey Time

Know how long the turkey will take. Poultry takes an average of 15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees, that means that a 20lb bird will take up to 5 hrs. and if you stuff the bird add additional time.

Poultry Type Oven Temp. Weight Unstuffed Stuffed
Turkey (whole bird) 325°F 8 – 12 lbs. 2 3/4 – 3 hours 3 – 3 1/2 hours
Turkey (whole bird) 325°F 12 – 14 lbs. 3 – 3 3/4 hours 3 1/2 – 4 hours
Turkey (whole bird) 325°F 14 – 18 lbs. 3 3/4 – 4 1/4 hours 4 – 4 1/4 hours
Turkey (whole bird) 325°F 18 – 20 lbs. 4 1/4 – 4 1/2 hours 4 1/4 – 4 3/4 hours
Turkey (whole bird) 325°F 20 – 24 lbs. 4 1/2 – 5 hours 4 3/4 – 5 1/2 hours

8. Don’t Goof the Gravy

wondra turkey gravy helperGravy sounds easy, but can easily be screwed up (trust me).  If you don’t know what a roux is, this could prove to be a minor challenge.

My recommendation is that if you opt for the Wondra, this is a great quick-mixing flour made by General Mills that makes making gravy a snap. Just follow the directions on the back of the can and you really can’t screw this up.


9. Make Enough Pie!

A typical pie yields 6 pieces, and those people who can really pack it in will want to try the pumpkin and the apple, so make that about 1.5 pieces per person.  With 10 people at your thanksgiving table you will need 15 pieces or 3 pies (which gives 18, so you should be safe).

10. No Crappy Card Tables

kids table at thanksgivingHave enough seats at the main table as well as place settings. Don’t send your adult guests to the the little side table so they can use kid size cutlery.

Most adults have already did their community service at the crappy card table when they were five years old, those torturous memories have been repressed and don’t need re-awakening.


From all of us at Sacandagalife.com, Have a safe, wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

*Card table image courtsey of Flickr user bardgabbard

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