The countdown to Thanksgiving is on. Roll out the welcome mat for your first Friendsgiving or finally master a traditional turkey day menu. With these tips and tricks, your hosting skills will be honed and ready for any curve ball that comes your way (without anyone knowing any differently). Piece. Of. Pie.
Sit down and make a guest list, and send out Thanksgiving invites by mail, email, text message, or word of mouth. From the number of guests you invite you can plan a meal and calculate how many beverages you'll need. The secret to a simple meal is planning ahead so everything doesn't seem to demand your attention at once.
A potluck can be a great way to share the load, and with just a little planning you can avoid 15 green bean casseroles at your dinner table. Ensure menu variety and head off an all-deviled-egg buffet by assigning food categories to your guests. Don't be shy—this eliminates the guesswork for them, too. Give non-cooks a chance to participate by including categories such as beverages, paper products, or decorating.
Grocery stores tend to get busier in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. You also run the risk of something on your list being sold out. Once your menu is set and you know how many people are coming, start to make a list. Stock up early so shopping for a crowd won't be so daunting.
If you're braving a new recipe or using ingredients that you aren't quite familiar with, try them out beforehand so you'll be primed for success on Thanksgiving Day. A test run will ensure you get the timing right and that everything tastes the way you want it to. It's also a good opportunity to determine which serving dishes and garnishes you'll use.
It's probably going to be the one available appliance in your kitchen during the flurry of Turkey Day activity. Take advantage of your microwave to quickly reheat food before serving when all the burners on the stovetop are occupied.
To avoid a last-minute crunch and assure tender turkey, let the bird rest out of the oven, covered, for about 20 minutes before carving. The bird's temperature will rise another 5-10 degrees while it sits, and it gives its juices a chance to redistribute.
Remember that Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day full of family, relaxation, and reflection, so don't let one burnt pecan pie sour your family's annual football game or post-meal rituals. Pat yourself on the back for your hard work, then start a movie marathon with one of these favorite Thanksgiving flicks.