Three years ago I went out to Denver to visit my best friend for Thanksgiving and we decided the two of us would make Thanksgiving dinner for ourselves and significant others. What an experience. There were a lot of laughs and quite a bit of wine. Even though the two of us were only cooking for four I was still able to take away a lot from the experience. So, here are ten tips for hosting Thanksgiving dinner.
1. Make the menu. Turkey is a given but everything else is pretty discretionary. Thanksgiving staples differ from family to family. So, be sure to decide what you’ll be serving early on.
2. Once you know what you’re eating, go shopping. I recommend hitting the grocery store at least a week prior to the big day. The longer you wait, the more crowded the stores will be.
3. Make a timeline. Figure out how long each item has to cook and at which temperature. Then figure out what time you want to eat and work your way backwards to develop a timeline of when the dishes have to be started and what goes in the oven when.
4. Prep as much as you can beforehand.
5. Delegate if you can. If you have a lot of people coming over and only one oven, you may need to delegate a few dishes. People won’t mind. You’re cleaning your house beforehand, making some dishes, and cleaning your house afterwards. The least people can do is bring a dish or some alcohol.
6. Speaking of alcohol…stock up. Hosting Thanksgiving can be stressful, but wine will help. Bonus: the more people drink, the better the food will taste and the less people will care if you accidentally burn something.
7. BEWARE of the turkey neck. Everyone always mentions the giblets, but really, that’s just a little bag of turkey bits that you can just throw out. Everyone knows to remove the little baggy before cooking and there is no real grossness involved in that. However, no one ever mentions the turkey neck. The turkey neck is tucked inside the turkey and requires that you stick your hand up the turkeys butt, grab on to the slimy neck which is probably still at least partially frozen, and yank it hard so it come out. It’s pretty gross. Be prepared.
8. Have appetizers. Chances are if you say dinner is at 4, you will have someone show up at 3:45 with something that “just needs to be warmed up”. Do yourself a favor and have appetizers ready to go out as soon as people get there and plan on everyone needing to do some last minute thing to their dish. People very rarely walk in with a dish that is ready to serve.
9. Decide who is carving the turkey and let them know a few days beforehand. You would be amazed at how many people can’t carve a turkey. I know I have no idea how to carve one or if there is any method to the madness.
10. Have a place for people to mingle while you are finishing up the cooking. You do not want 15 people in your kitchen as you’re taking things in and out of the oven. One or two people is fine, but shoo everyone else out.
Here are some photos from that Thanksgiving in Denver.
Have you ever hosted Thanksgiving dinner? What tips do you have?