A few years ago I started hosting Turkey Day at my home and I’ve come to realize that it’s really a type A, list lover like me’s perfect holiday – the planning, the prep, the cooking, the spending most of the day in your PJs enjoying a Bloody Mary until company arrives…..it’s everything I love rolled into one. If you’re hosting dinner for the first time, or just looking for a way to make it a less stressful process, I have a few tips that I’ve gathered over the years for making the day as enjoyable as possible:
1. Do as much as you can ahead of time – I have all of the recipes that I use each year saved in this folder and almost all of them I make in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. That way on the day of I’m in the kitchen as little as possible.
2. Stay organized and put together a timeline – I keep mine saved in my google drive along with a copy of all of my recipes so I can easily access everything I need from my iPad while I’m cooking or shopping. I go over it at least two weeks before to take stock of what I have and don’t have both in terms of food and tableware. Feel free to download a copy of both my timeline and grocery list if you’d like to take a look how I stay organized.
3. Dress up your table but keep it simple. Most important on any table is to make sure that everyone has enough room to sit and eat comfortably – but a few touches like fresh flowers, colorful table linens, or even just a fun place setting put together from what you have on hand will make the table feel special. If I’m having a full house I also like to set up a buffet in the kitchen for the food and let everyone fill their plate before taking a seat at the table.
4. Keep the food consistent – as much as I like trying out new recipes, I find that Thanksgiving is the one time of year that people want to eat the same food year to year so once I find a recipe that works I stick to it. I may add a new dessert or appetizer to spice things up but the main meal stays the same from year to year. You can find my fav recipes below that my family gobbles up each year.
5. Most importantly — it’s your home and your table so don’t be afraid to start your own traditions or break with ones that don’t work for your family.
Crispy Skinned Herb Roasted Turkey – Confession — we’re not the biggest turkey people so I love how much flavor this recipe puts into the bird. I dry Brine mine two days before and stuff the cavity with lemons and oranges until I’m ready to stuff it on the day of.
Make Ahead Gravy – Make the base ahead of time and mix it into the Turkey drippings after it comes out of the oven; I’ll often make a double batch so we have enough for leftovers.
Challah Bread Stuffing – I created a hybird of my dad and mother-in law’s stuffing taking the best of both worlds and made it my own.
Cranberry Sauce with Orange Zest – Not gonna lie – I’m never mad at good old cranberry sauce out of the can – but once once I started making my own I fell in love with both the taste and the smell so I’m officially a convert.
Make Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole – Although I personally love the original recipe, for a crowd I substitute cream cheese for goat cheese for a milder flavor.
Mini Sweet Potato Casseroles – We live in a divided house between those that love marshmallows on top, and those that don’t, so I make a few mini casseroles and everyone can grab what they like.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts w/Bacon – My families fave obligatory green vegetable to add to the table
Throwdown Pumpkin Pie – I’m only a fan of pumpkin pie with a graham cracker crust and this is the best recipe I’ve ever found. I just make regular whipped cream and serve it on the side.