Can you believe we are a week away from Thanksgiving? Time is flying by! Two years ago, I made my first Thanksgiving meal. There were tears shed, multiple phone calls to my mom, and many freak outs. I had watched my mom make Thanksgiving dinners for many years and thought it’d be easy enough. Boy was I wrong. Thanksgiving meals are challenging, time-consuming, and need to be thoroughly planned. If you are cooking your first Thanksgiving meal, it means you have hit a major milestone as a cook. While it is a big milestone, anxiety can kick in. Today I am providing lots of tips to help you with cooking your first Thanksgiving meal.
Keep these tips in mind when cooking your first Thanksgiving meal:
Do Research Prior To Cooking.
If you’ve never cooked a Thanksgiving meal before, I highly, highly recommend doing research prior to starting. Determine how long it is going to take to cook your turkey. The cook time for turkeys vary based on the size and weight. I recommend watching youtube videos on how to properly clean and baste a turkey. The more you know, the more prepared you will be, or at least the more prepared you will be on faking it.
Everything Takes Longer Than You Expect.
Allow yourself plenty of time to cook. Each oven cooks differently so allow plenty of time incase it takes longer to cook certain items.
Do NOT Turn Down Help.
This is super important! If someone offers to help or bring something, let them. Delegate as much as you can. The only thing the host should be responsible is the turkey, mashed potatoes/gravy, and any other hot sides that traveling guests won’t be able to bring. If you have a family, I would assign certain rooms/tasks for each family member to clean and prep for guests. This will save you time and you won’t be concerned with cleaning when you should be focusing on the food.
Plan As Much Ahead As Possible.
This is huge! Be sure to shop for all ingredients ahead of time. You will not want to be rushing to the store last-minute for one particular item in the midst of all of the shoppers that procrastinate. There are many food items that can be made ahead of time or even prepped before hand. For the dressing, you can cut bread into cubes to let stale early in the week and cut the celery the day before. The pies can be made 2-3 days in advance.
Stick to Tried & True Recipes.
Thanksgiving is not the time to try recipes that you have never cooked before, especially when you are sharing with others. Most people enjoy the classic recipes so don’t try to change-up the originals.
Set Up Drinks & Appetizers Away From The Cooking Area.
This is crucial. There is nothing worse than having people crowd the kitchen to get drinks or snacks when you are finishing up dinner. I highly recommend setting up a special location where drinks and appetizers can be placed. The living area, dining room, home office, or if your lucky to have an entryway, would all be perfect locations. Your set up should include, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, an ice bucket, tongs for the ice, corkscrew, bottle opener, a wide variety of glasses for each drink type, simple appetizers (you don’t want anyone to lose their appetite), small plates, and napkins.
Don’t Overanalyze The Decor.
Keep the decor simple but elegant. The guests will be more concerned on the taste of the food versus the presentation. A big help is to set the table the day before. This will allow you to perfect the tablescape without wasting time on the big day. If you are serving the dinner family style, don’t add too much decoration that will prevent the food from fitting nicely and crowding the table.
Allow Time For You To Get Ready.
This is something that is really important. One can get caught up in cooking, cleaning, and decorating that they forget to allow time to get ready. I suggest showing before you begin cooking and then once you get everything in the oven, go ahead and get ready. Allow 30 minutes prior to the arrival of guests to change your clothes and freshen up. I also recommend investing in an apron. This will help keep you from getting anything on your outfit. If you still haven’t figured out what you are going to wear, I recommend this outfit or this one.
Don’t Let Yourself Get Stressed Out.
Entertaining is always stressful but finding ways to stay stress free is really important. Be sure to check out these tips on how to have a stress-free Thanksgiving. I know you’ll love these tips!
By taking inconsideration the above, cooking your first Thanksgiving meal will go off without a hitch.