How to Host Thanksgiving Without Sweating

How to Host Thanksgiving Without Sweating

I happen to love cooking and am actually hoping to host Thanksgiving this year, but that doesn't mean it can't be stressful to prep and cook all that food. I have some tips for prepping things in advance so your day can be filled with stuffing your face and watching football without all the stress.

3 Days Before:

  • Take the turkey out of the freezer and move it to the fridge! Turkey takes a loooong time to defrost and you don't want to find yourself putting a giant block of ice in the oven on the big day.
  • Make the mashed potatoes. Yep, you can make them ahead and they will still come out creamy and delicious when you reheat them as long as you use copious amounts of butter. Try the Pioneer Woman's recipe and you won't be disappointed.
  • Make the dinner rolls and freeze them. They will reheat beautifully and once they are slathered with butter, or sopping up gravy, nobody will know you made them in advance.

2 Days Before:

  • Make the cornbread for the stuffing (or "dressing" as we call it). Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, but it's going to get mixed with celery, onions, and broth, so if it gets a little dry, it's no big deal.
  • I love the canned stuff (like, a lot) but if you are making homemade cranberry sauce, it will be perfectly fine in the fridge for a few days as long as you don't eat it all before Thanksgiving!
  • This may be a southern thing, or maybe just a "my family" thing, but we always have a broccoli rice casserole and it can definitely be assembled two days before and heated on Thanksgiving. (If you're a mac & cheese family, this can be made 2 days before as well)

The Day Before:

  • Make the pies. Pecan, pumpkin, apple and anything in between will be fine until the next day. However, if you are making a meringue topped pie, I would still make the pie the day before, but would save the meringue for the day of so it doesn't get goopy. 
  • Turn the cornbread into dressing, but don't bake it until the big day.
  • Assemble the green bean casserole (minus the fried onions on top)

Thanksgiving Day:

  • Slather the turkey with herb butter and get it in the oven
  • Top the green bean casserole with the crispy onions and pop it in the oven with the dressing and mashed potatoes about 20-30 minutes before you're ready to eat.(Broccoli & rice casserole and mac & cheese will need a little longer)*
  • Make the gravy
  • Heat the rolls for about 10 minutes while you are putting the food out on the table or buffet

*The turkey can be resting, covered in foil, on the counter while the side dishes bake and you make the gravy. It will stay warm and will be juicier if you let it rest.

Since you will be totally calm, cool, and collected by prepping like a boss, you'll probably want to sit back with a cocktail while you marvel at the feast you created. Try a cool sparkling prosecco drink or a warm mulled wine. Need some holiday decor? Go boho with a feather garland, or show thanks with a colorful "Thankful" banner that will look beautiful over your holiday table.


Gobble gobble, friends!


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  • Heather Lindow
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