19 of the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Hacks

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, our easy hacks can give you more time for relaxing with your guests!

Preparing a big holiday meal for family and friends is a lot of fun, but it does require plenty of work, and involves much more than simply cooking a bird.

There are side dishes to prepare, desserts to bake, seating arrangements to work out, beverages to chill, place settings to count, and far more.

Vertical top-down image of a full thanksgiving dinner spread, with text in the center and on the bottom of the image.

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With all the details to attend to, and a ravenous riot of relatives in the house, it can create a pressure cooker of stress – which often results in overlooked items, undercooked or overcooked foods, and an unhappy and frustrated host.

But with just a little organization and planning, you can easily manage your tasks and energy so that a delicious meal is served, with everything coming together on time – and you can enjoy it along with everyone else!

Even better, if you want to make the holiday dining last, check out these tips on how to stretch your Thanksgiving dinner the extra mile.

Have bigger concerns? We also have some great ideas on how to survive your holiday dinners, whether for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Ready for some extra time and peace of mind? Then let’s jump into 19 of the best Thanksgiving dinner hacks!

Here’s what’s coming up:

1. Plan Ahead

To successfully pull off a large dinner with a houseful of guests, a certain degree of organization is definitely needed!

Horizontal image of preparing to write a list on paper next to fall-themed decor.

Trying to arrange the environment, run out for supplies, and cook a big meal at the same time is waaaaaay too stressful.

Instead, about a month prior to the big event, dedicate one hour or two of thorough planning in order to get your thoughts on paper, then organize them with a timeline.

Create a checklist for everything that needs to be purchased, taken out of storage, cleaned, thawed, pressed, pre-made, set up, or requires preparation of any kind.

This is also a good time to call some of your guests to designate who brings what – like appetizers, desserts, dinner rolls, salads, or side dishes.

In the week prior to Thanksgiving, schedule a bit of time each day to get all your tasks done in an effective and efficient manner.

If you plan on pre-making any recipes, save these tasks for a day or two before the meal to keep everything as fresh as possible. If you have plans for freezer storage, determine the timeline you need for fully thawing your dishes.

As each item on your list is completed and crossed off, you’ll have a greater sense of calm and control.

Then when it’s time to start cooking, your mind will be clutter-free and ready to focus on the task at hand – your time spent in the kitchen will be much more enjoyable, and you’ll have more free time to spend with your guests as well.

2. Dry Brine the Bird

Brining a turkey is a simple process that ensures juicy, flavorful meat.

A salty brine gives a deeply seasoned flavor, tenderizes proteins for the most succulent morsels, and maintains the meat’s moisture – a huge benefit with bigger birds that tend to dry out during a long cooking process.

But a wet brine can be a messy, complicated process. It requires a stockpot large enough to hold your bird and brine, then finding room in the fridge for a large, turkey-filled pot. And you need to flip the bird halfway through the brine soak.

Image of Sur La Table's Dry Brine Mix on a chicken.

Sur La Table Rosemary Thyme Turkey Dry Brine

An easier alternative is a dry brine.

It has all the benefits of a wet brine, and also creates incredibly crisp, golden brown skin. Plus, your turkey can sit in the fridge in a pan or large plate instead of in a large, tall, cumbersome pot.

You can learn all about this method, and get our own homemade recipe, in this step-by-step tutorial for how to dry brine a chicken or turkey – there is a lot of useful information to study!

To save even more precious time, you can also use a store-bought dry brine mix, like this Rosemary Thyme Turkey Dry Brine from Sur La Table.

While you’re waiting for the bird to brine, why don’t you take this opportunity to get your spice cabinet organized? Check out Foodal’s review of the best spice racks.

And don’t forget to check out all of our chicken and poultry recipes and protein preparation and cooking advice.

3. Bake Desserts Ahead of Time

If you haven’t delegated desserts for guests to bring, have a baking session a day or two before turkey day.

Horizontal image of a brown plate with a slice of pastry with a crumble topping next to a cinnamon stick.
Photo credit: Nikki Cervone

Apple Cream Cheese Streusel Pie – Get the Recipe Now

Classic Thanksgiving sweet fare like apple, pecan, or pumpkin pies – and other tasty fall desserts like pumpkin cheesecake bars and pumpkin cinnamon ice cream – can be precooked, cooled, covered, and refrigerated or frozen in advance until the day of your meal.

Take them out of the fridge several hours before dinner time and allow them to come to room temperature.

Then the only thing left to do is prep toppings like whipped cream just before serving.

And don’t rely on your memory for things like taking pies from the fridge or preparing the final touches – set an alarm on your phone as a reminder.

4. Designate Helpers

There’s no need to be a kitchen martyr!

Horizontal image of a young woman and her mother preparing pumpkin pie together in the kitchen.

Smart cooks ask their family and friends for help with cooking, baking, preparations, and cleanup.

Not only will you have more free time with fewer dishes to prepare, but your guests also get to feel good about contributing to the meal’s success.

For the best results, get your friends who cook to bring desserts, salads, and side dishes.

Those who don’t cook can bring dinner rolls, coffee, bottles of water, store-bought desserts, wine, or an after-dinner digestif.

Designate a bartender to keep the drinks flowing, or set up a bar where guests can help themselves.

You’ll definitely also want to enlist a couple bussers and pot-washers to help with the after-dinner cleanup tasks.

5. Preset the Table

Setting the table is another task that, once completed, reduces distractions and frees your attention to focus on the task of cooking a big meal.

A couple of days before your dinner, pull out all your serving and dinnerware items and place them on your dining table to check you have everything that’s needed. See if anything needs to be polished or cleaned.

Thanksgiving Party Supplies Set, 24-count

The night before your dinner, set the Thanksgiving table with all the plates, cups, bowls, linens, trivets, seasonings, serving dishes, and utensils you intend to use.

This can be even easier to do when you own a complete dinnerware and decor set specifically for the Thanksgiving holiday. The setup couldn’t be simpler!

Feel fun and festive with this set that serves 24 people, complete with 24 small plates, large plates, cups, napkins, utensils, as well as 2 table covers and a decorative banner. It’s available now from Amazon.

Dig out and clean off the extra chairs, high-chairs, kids’ dishes, and so on, making sure all the bits and pieces are in place.

Arrange your condiments at the same time. Fill salt and pepper mills, place butter in butter dishes, and empty canned cranberry sauce into a serving bowl.

Cover items like butter or cranberries with plastic wrap and place in the fridge, pulling them out a few hours before dinner to bring them to room temperature.

And remember to cross it off your list before retiring for the night – you’ll sleep much better as your list continues to dwindle away!

6. Lay Out Cookware the Night Before

Just like pre-setting the table, laying out all the needed cookware and utensils the night before turkey day reduces distractions – with everything prepped and in place, you can let go of fussing over details.

Dig out all of your essential cookware, baster, dishes, measuring cups, mixers, oven mitts, pots, roasting pan, utensils, and so on. Then place them on the stove and countertop in convenient spots, lining them up roughly in order of their use.

Set up your favorite cookbooks or print out recipes and tape them to a cupboard door if your counter space is getting too cluttered.

Nikky Home Metal Recipe Organization Box

Another option is to designate a recipe box specifically for your holiday recipes, something that you can cherish and continue contributing recipes to year after year. This gorgeous Ironwood Acacia Recipe Box contains two separate compartments to keep your favorite recipes organized. It’s available to purchase now from Amazon.

You can also save all of your recipes on your phone or computer for easy, digital access.

With everything in its place, you can jump right in when it’s time to start cooking!

7. Chop and Prep Veggies the Day Before

Cooking a large holiday meal means there are vegetables to prep… lots of vegetables!

Save yourself some time and stress by prepping all of your veggies the day before.

Pull out and measure the amount of vegetables needed for each recipe you plan to make, then clean, wash, and trim them. Chop, dice, or slice as needed, then store them labeled in airtight bags or containers in the fridge until they’re needed.

Raw items that oxidize quickly, like potatoes, should be placed in an airtight container and fully submerged with cold water to prevent browning, then refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Review our tutorials for efficiently prepping vegetables like onions, mushrooms, and asparagus.

8. Don’t Peel the Spuds

Peeling enough potatoes for a large serving of mashed potatoes takes a big chunk of time.

Horizontal image of three baked spuds split in the middle on a white plate next to a kitchen appliance.
Photo credit: Meghan Yager

How to Cook Potatoes in the Pressure Cooker – Get the Tutorial Now

If you have other things to do with those precious minutes, cook your potatoes whole instead in a pot of boiling and generously salted water.

When they’re ready, plunge into a bath of ice water. Use a paring knife to make an X in one end and the skins will slip off in one fell swoop, ready for mashing.

For another quick and easy method to remove the skins, skip the potato masher and use a potato ricer instead! This nifty tool is designed to work with potatoes that still have their skins intact – the perforated disc allows the tender flesh to push through, while leaving the fibrous skin behind.

You can also choose to skip the mashed potatoes entirely and opt for whole baked potatoes instead! This would be a nearly effortless choice (no peeling again!), and you can set out a mini station of toppings that your guests can customize for garnishes.

Learn how to cooked baked potatoes in your pressure cooker for a quick method.

9. Free up Space with a Slow Cooker

Stovetop and oven space is always at a premium with holiday meals, so free up some room with your slow cooker.

Overhead shot of a blue and orange crock of butternut squash soup topped with pumpkin seeds and sage, with more of the garnish scattered on a wood surface topped with a beige rough cloth.
Photo credit: Kelli McGrane

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup – Get the Recipe Now

Transfer your mashed potatoes, or any other large serving of a side dish, into a slow cooker then place it somewhere away from the cooking action.

Set it on low with the lid on to keep your food warm until dinner.

For inspiration, review our entire collection of slow cooker recipes to choose a few to make!

10. Use a Meat Thermometer

Even if you think your timing is perfect, turkey meat is delicate and easy to overcook, which can result in dry meat.

Horizontal image of a roasted turkey in a baking dish with a meat thermometer inserted into it.

But you don’t want it undercooked either – pink meat or bloody joints are decidedly unappetizing when it comes to poultry, and is a serious health hazard to serve!

So eliminate the stress of guesswork by using a digital meat thermometer, which is inexpensive and incredibly straightforward to use.

Time your bird as usual. Then when it’s 30 to 60 minutes from the expected completion, check the temperature with a thermometer when you baste, fine tuning exactly when it should come out of the oven.

All poultry, including white and dark turkey meat, needs to reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F – let that number be your faithful guide!

For predictably good results, read up on the different styles and how to use them in our guide to meat thermometers.

11. Save the Neck and Giblets for Gravy

Don’t dispose of the neck and giblets that usually come included with the purchase of your turkey!

Horizontal image of gravy in a boat on the same table as a dinner spread.

For a rich and delicious gravy, start by making a small pot of stock with the bird’s neck and giblets while the turkey cooks.

Follow our recipes for either slow cooker low-sodium chicken stock or basic chicken stock with the amount of neck and giblets you have.

A single burner hot plate or induction burner for the countertop is another useful appliance for freeing up the stovetop. You’ll be able to plug it in somewhere safe and out of the way while you let your stock gently simmer as dinner’s prepared.

Image of the Zavor Pro Induction Burner.

Zavor Pro Portable Induction Cooktop

Consider purchasing this Hazmat-certified Zavor Pro Portable Induction Cooktop, available now from Sur La Table. An hour or so before the bird is ready, remove the stock from the heat and cool, skimming off any fat that rises.

Deglaze the pan drippings with your stock for sumptuous gravy. We have our tried-and-true gravy recipe you can steal from our homemade meatloaf!

12. Have Your Stockpot on Standby

I have to admit, one of my favorite things about making a turkey dinner is the richly flavored soup that comes from the leftovers!

Horizontal image of a large stockpot filled with stock ingredients on burlap.

As it slowly cooks, the aroma is heavenly and the earthy flavors are deeply satisfying – and it’s easy to make a big pot for the day after or beyond.

The morning of your dinner, cut into quarters some stock vegetables such as carrots, celery and onion. Put them labeled in an airtight bag or container and transfer that to the refrigerator.

After dinner, when everyone can’t eat another bite, remove any remaining meat from the turkey and refrigerate that along with the carcass and bones.

When you’re ready to cook the next day, place the turkey remains in your stockpot with your reserved quartered veggies and stock seasonings. Cover with water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer to gently cook all evening.

Once your stock is ready, carefully strain it and use it as a base for turkey soup or freeze it for later use.

You may not feel like getting right back in the kitchen the next day, but making a stock is a really soothing, easygoing process that won’t require too much effort on a tired chef.

13. Make Extra Stuffing

It doesn’t seem to matter how big the bird is, there’s never enough room to hold all the stuffing.

Vertical closeup image of vegetable stuffing in a casserole dish.
Photo credit: Raquel Smith

Vegan Stuffing – Get the Recipe Now

No problem. The simple solution is to stop trying to over-stuff the bird!

Double up your stuffing recipe – whatever won’t fit in the chest cavity can be placed in a casserole dish. Bake along with the bird for a side dish of extra dressing.

You know it won’t go to waste!

And for all you trivia buffs, stuffing is considered “stuffing” when it’s cooked inside the bird. But it’s called “dressing” when it is cooked separately.

If you are surrounded by seafood lovers, our recipe for oyster dressing is a stellar option to serve for a briny kick.

14. Create a Veggie Roasting Rack

To ensure large cuts of meat like a turkey cook evenly, a roasting rack inserted in the roasting pan is needed to elevate the bird off the bottom of your pan.

Horizontal image of a roasted turkey on top of a bed of potatoes and mushrooms in a baking dish.

This creates optimal air flow, allowing heat and air to circulate under the bird as well as all around it.

If you don’t have a rack, or your rack is too small for a big bird, you can still elevate it with vegetables!

Use vegetables like carrots, celery, potatoes, mushrooms, or thick-sliced onions to lay on the bottom of the pan, placing them crosswise and a couple of inches apart and place your turkey on top. You can also throw in some aromatics, such as heartier herbs like rosemary and thyme and whole garlic heads sliced in half.

To prevent the bird from shifting on a rounded surface, cut carrots lengthwise and place the flat cut on the bottom.

Not only will they help your bird cook faster and more evenly, but the stock veggies also add delicious flavors to the drippings for a flavorful gravy!

15. Rest Your Bird Before Carving

For the juiciest meat, allow your bird to rest for 30 to 60 minutes before carving, 20 at the very least.

Vertical image of carving a roasted turkey on a server tray garnished with fresh grapes and herbs on fall harvest table.

This is necessary for all roasted meat and poultry!

When cooking, the juices travel and concentrate in the middle of the mass. Giving your cooked meat time to rest before carving allows the liquid to be redistributed to the extremities, so all pieces are moist and juicy.

Set your timer, and have some patience – this is why circulating a variety of holiday finger food appetizers prior to the main feast is so important!

16. Chill Beverages in Coolers

Just like there’s never enough room in the bird for the stuffing, there’s never enough room in the fridge for all the goodies needed to prepare a large dinner.

Horizontal image of a chilled wine bottle in a buck filled with ice.

To ease over-crowding in the fridge, use coolers filled with ice to chill bottled or canned beverages such as beer, juice, wine, or whatever your guests like to drink.

Family and friends can help themselves, and precious fridge space is reserved for the food.

If it’s cold enough outside, you can even set up this station directly outside a covered porch near the door – it’s suitable enough as an easy access for guests, without taking up any space inside.

17. Serve Your Meal Buffet-Style

After all the effort of preparing dinner, it should be enjoyed in comfort, with ample room for spacious place settings.

Horizontal image of a large buffet table overlooking a window outside of the woods.

To free up tabletop space, set the table for a sit-down meal and include seasonings and condiments on the table, but serve everything else buffet-style.

This gives extra room for table decorations as well, but you should keep the decor simple and minimal if space still is an issue in a smaller dining area.

Use countertops, a sideboard, or card tables to lay out the turkey, side dishes, and all the dinner goodies for your guests to serve themselves.

Everyone will have more elbow room at the table, and it makes setup and cleanup easier, too!

18. Clear the Air

The aromas from a turkey dinner are truly tantalizing, but once the cooking and feasting are finished, some fresh air is needed to help ward off after-dinner drowsiness!

Horizontal image of an aromatic natural air freshener with a pot filled with water, lemons, and rosemary.
Photo credit: Lorna Kring

Opening the kitchen window is good to get the air moving, but it’s also helpful to have absorbing agents to eliminate odors and freshen the air.

For an easy and all-natural air freshener, a simmering pot of water with fresh rosemary and lemon is effective, fast-acting, and refreshing.

Fill a medium saucepan to three quarters with water then add three or four large sprigs of fresh rosemary and a quartered lemon. Bring just to a boil then reduce heat so the water barely simmers.

Leave the pot uncovered for 30 to 60 minutes to simmer away odors. Or leave it on low for a few hours to add a light touch of piney-citrus aromatherapy… add in a few cloves, a vanilla bean, and a cinnamon stick for a scent that’s perfect for fall and winter holidays!

19. Give Thanks

When you’re sitting down to enjoy a feast with family and friends, take a moment to be thankful.

“Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier”

There’s no pressure to say a formal or religious-based grace, but take the time to embody the spirit of the day by appreciating the abundant food, comfortable environment, and loved ones…

Because gratitude is good for our well-being!

The practice of expressing thankfulness can even make us happier, according to leading gratitude researcher Robert A. Emmons. This cherished wisdom is published in his book, “Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” available now from Amazon.

So count your blessings – your beautiful Thanksgiving dinner will taste even better with a sprinkle of gratitude!

Plan, Cook, Enjoy

With a little planning and a few of our hacks, you can ace cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner and have plenty of time to enjoy it too!

Get all the details down on paper – or on your phone or computer – first, then work out a manageable timeline to complete as many tasks as possible before turkey day.

But the work doesn’t stop once the bird’s ready, so remember to wrangle some help for bartending, cleaning, entertainment, and kitchen duties too!

Horizontal top-down image of a complete Thanksgiving dinner spread.

What are your favorite hacks for a big dinner party? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

And for more valuable Thanksgiving ideas, check out these guides next.

Photos by Nikki Cervone, Meghan Yager, Kelli McGrane, Raquel Smith, and Lorna Kring, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Sur La Table and Amazon. Originally published on November 5, 2015. Last updated on November 14, 2023. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.

About Lorna Kring

Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.

44 thoughts on “19 of the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Hacks”

  1. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays in the year. That is due to the fact that you get to enjoy a day or weekend with your family and friends, it’s a selfless a holiday where you give and give thanks, and it’s all accompanied by great food, and usually a good atmosphere. Thanks a lot for the tips, I’ve always wanted to bake home-made apple pies, but I always end up buying the store kinds due to lack of time. I’m sure to save a lot of time this year thanks to you, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to get to bake my apple pie. I especially like your tip of dry-brining, I’ve always done the wet version, and your version does seem a lot faster and cleaner than mine. I will be looking in the site but if there isn’t, can you guys provide us with a good apple pie recipe? You guys always provide us with winning dishes.

  2. Planning is always key. I think the advice is good for huge dinner parties as well as Thanksgiving, especially digging out all the pots and pans, and making sure they are clean and there are enough pans. It can determine whether you need to rotate cooking items or to have an order if some items need longer to cook.

    I do think extra stuffing is great as you can use it as a side and some people like to snack on it with veggies and gravy.

    • Planning certainly is a key to success Bella, from everyday meals to the big feasts, it’s the step that simplifies.

      And you’re right, extra dressing is a wise step – in our house it’s an integral ingredient in those delicious, leftover turkey sandwiches…

  3. There are many creative ways to spice up Thanksgiving! Every year my family does something different with our turkey. This has given me many more great ideas. One year we put cherry pie filling on the outside and while it seems odd, it was amazing and brought out the flavor. This post also gave my ideas for soups and sandwiches.

    • Well, fruit and poultry is always a good combo though I have to admit, I’ve never tried the cherry pie filling! Glad you found some useful ideas.

  4. Stuffing the turkey itself is pretty unwise, from a food safety standpoint. I do agree that it tastes better when cooked inside the bird. However, as a 15 year kitchen veteran who has been trained, and even taught a few classes, in food safety, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highly advise against it.
    Stuffing needs to come to a temperature of 165 for at least 15-30 seconds before it’s considered fully cooked. By the time your stuffing gets there, your turkey’s breast will probably be in the 180-190 degree range and thoroughly overcooked. If you go for the perfectly cooked breast meat, you’ll have under-cooked the stuffing. This can be especially dangerous, since we serve Thanksgiving dinner to some of the most susceptible members of our family to food borne illness (i.e. small children and the elderly).
    In fact it’s pretty difficult just to get the thigh meat and the breast meat to cook together well. I’ve seen recipes that go so far as to let the thigh meat warm a bit and then submerge (but not thighs) the breast in ice water so it will be cooler and thus cook at the same rate as the thighs.
    I’m all for spatchcocking, myself. It makes the entire turkey cooking process go quicker, and makes it a more even cooking time between the breast and thigh meat. The dry brining, which you suggested, helps keep the breast moist in any case.
    As far as the stuffing goes, just make it dressing. Better yet, bake it in a muffin tin and have STUFFING MUFFINS!

    • Thanks for your insights on cooking temps pej – spatchcocking is great for saving time, and a side of dressing is always a good option for those concerned with food safety.

      I find dry brining (2), buttering the bird (10) and allowing the bird to rest before carving (14) takes care of retaining moisture, and a good thermometer (11) ensures the proper internal temp is reached. But point taken… care needs to be exercised with stuffed foods.

  5. I agree, proper prep is key! I like to prep dishes/chop veggies the day before I have a more labor intensive meal planned, or will be short on time, to make things as easy as throwing it in the oven or mixing everything up the day of. Making sure all your cookware, dishes, and utensils are cleaned and ready is a great idea too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to grab a certain measuring cup or prep bowl, only to have to stop to clean it first. I know to do the cookware prep before trying to cook, I am just bad at remembering to do it. Setting up the table the night before and using coolers, though, are ideas I had never heard of before and are great suggestions. We have a small house, with very minimal seating, so we don’t really host any parties and are usually guests at other people’s houses. Whenever we do have our own dinner party, or when we help set up for someone else’s again, I’ll have to remember those tips. Thanks.

  6. We don’t have a thanksgiving holiday in my country, but honestly we should. This article is so full of good information that I can apply to other celebrations like Christmas, which is just around the corner. These hacks can make life a lot easier and help us to be more organized.I am looking forward to making use of this info. Thanks for lovely article.

  7. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. For me, it is the start of the holiday season. Years of preparing Thanksgiving dinner has made me more savvy with the preparations so I too can enjoy some family and relaxation time.

    The article hits the mark with many of its suggestions. I too set the table the night before, prep the bird, and have many side dished pepped the night before. However, i ABSOLUTELY loved the idea of making a drink cooler with a hollowed out pumpkin. What a fun and festive way to use those Halloween pumpkins one more time!

    I also want to share a tip that helps keep me turkeys tasting awesome. The night before i put olive oil on skin, salt/pepper the bird and finally wrap in a towel and place in the fridge. I then cook the bird for the first hour upside down or breast down on the bottom of pan. Both are old family tricks that keep the white meat juicy yet allow the skin to get brown and crispy..YUM!

    • Not too much trumps the lessons of experience kamsith… and thanks for your tips on juicy white meat with crispy skin. Sounds wonderful!

  8. This was a great list of tips for ways to make your thanksgiving day go smoother and stress free. I’m curious, what is brining? Please let me know, I am always trying to learn new things. I really liked the fact that number 19 was to take time to be thankful, because as surprising as it seems, I feel this is forgot far to often. Be thankful! It’s kinda the point 😉

    • Brining is the process of soaking meat in salted water to relax the proteins in the muscle fibers. Once the proteins are relaxed, they can absorb moisture which prevents dryness. However, a lot of that retained moisture is water – which some feel dilutes the flavor of the bird.

      Dry brining, or salting, achieves the same relaxation of tissues through osmosis. Initially, the salt draws the moisture out, then relaxes the protein and re-absorbs the juice without any dilution of flavor. And its not as messy either.

      And thanks for remembering to be thankful abbielu!

  9. This article definitely make many great points, although we do not celebrate Thanksgiving in our country, the points listed would help with every other big gathering between family members too. As someone who has had to help out with a family reunion, I recognize the importance of good planning and commend the article for giving such good advice that would certainly help for these occasions.

    • As you say dabdab, planning is important for any gathering of the clan. Thanks for your comments, glad you found the post useful.

  10. I really enjoy this list. It will help relieve a lot of stress on Thanksgiving so you actually have time to be thankful for the friends and family around you. I do think it is a good idea to precook pies, and you can just throw them in the oven for 10 minutes to warm them back up to make them warm and fresh tasting. Preparing the veggies the night before is also a great idea, you just have to be careful as some can brown.

    • Good point about the veggies browning CatEaterr, care needs to be taken in storing them overnight to ensure they’re still fresh and crisp. Immersing in a bowl of cold water works well for a lot of veggies that tend to brown. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  11. This year, a few of my friends and I have decided to come together and do what we call “ThankMas” (a mix between Thanksgiving and Christmas). The idea of doing potluck with ones you love is so exciting, but at the same time really overwhelming! Although we have not decided who is making what, I will definitely have to pass this page on so everyone knows the hacks to make the food-prepping a little easier for them as well 🙂

    Thank you for these wonderful suggestions!

  12. I absolutely LOVE this post! Thank you for such time-saving, yet simple, tasks. Thanksgiving can definitely be a stressful time if you’re having a big crowd. This list of “hacks” is the perfect solution for a stress-free holiday. I especially love the tips about getting as much done ahead of time as possible. That will definitely make for a less stressful day of. Thank you, again, for sharing this wonderful advice. I will definitely be putting some of these tips to use this holiday season! (And it’s great because, although this is a post about Thanksgiving, these tips can also be tied into Christmas and other holidays as well!)

    • Thanks for your enthusiasm mgprice1! It is hard to be thankful when we’re stressed out and I’m always happy to find tips that make holiday celebrations simpler and more joyous. Hope yours is a good one!

  13. Thanks so much for this post! This year is my very first year living on my own, and I am cooking a Thanksgiving meal for my family for a change. Although I plan on taking your advice and enlisting their help, I do want to tackle the turkey by myself. I love your idea of baking desserts ahead of time rather than waiting to do all the cooking/baking in one day. What would you suggest for somebody with limited space, where I can’t make more than a couple items at a time?

    • Your first turkey, how exciting! Try the menu tabs above for dessert ideas makenziefalcon – Recipes > Desserts should give you some ideas. Have fun!

  14. You are right. It can get hectic. I want to enjoy the holiday too, not feel stressed.

    I love all of these tips, Lorna. These are good, common sense ideas. I’ve used some of these, as I’ve learned them over the years, but I’m always looking to add to the list. The more time I can spend enjoying my grandkids instead of being in the kitchen, the better! Thanks.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Zyni, there’s nothing like a bit of experience as a teacher… and a few new ideas online always helps too. Enjoy feasting with your grandkids!

  15. Great tips! I am always on the hunt for new tips to make the holidays flow by without a hitch and will definitely be using a lot of these techniques to accomplish just that! However I already bought the brine bag so I might as well use it, but next year I will be using that delicious sounding dry rub! Thank you for posting these.

  16. As someone who suffers from anxiety this article really hits a lot of tips that would help me in a time that is stressful but supposed to be joyful! I love how you have made Thanksgiving seem possible in my little apartment with all the preset tips and preparation as well as making room for everything! These are the things that always have me on edge when I should be enjoying this time with my family. I am THANKFUL I found you and this article to help me out this holiday. By the way your turkey looks amazingly delicious!! Happy holidays!

    • Presetting and advance prep breaks a daunting task into manageable chunks and makes any project seem doable AnDaughter13. So glad you found the tips to be helpful, and hope your holidays are peaceful and joyous!

  17. I always bake my pies a day before our feast. They taste so much better after they’ve set. Plus if there is a mishap it can be corrected without a rush. the holidays can be very stressful if things haven’t been careful planned in advance. Doing so takes the sting out of it so time with family can be enjoyed.

    • It’s so nice to have some breathing room when something does go askew karmaskeeper, as having the time to fix a mistake is crucial to keeping the stress down. And you’re right, pies do taste better with sitting time! Thanks for your comments.

  18. The tip for buttering the bird is genius and sounds amazing! I will definitely be trying this! Can this technique work with other forms of poultry, or just turkey?

  19. It makes for rich, juicy meat Nikole88! I’ve buttered chicken and Cornish game hens, and imagine it would work for game such as duck and goose just as well. Enjoy your bird!

  20. Thanks for these tips, I wish I would have found them a couple of days ago. I have been blessed with cooking the Thanksgiving dinner for my family every year. We usually have a pretty large crowd and I am the one doing the most prep work and cooking so any tips I can take in are greatly appreciated. I use my slow cookers for many things, I especially love using them for the gravy. Next year I will use it for the mash potatoes too! What a great idea.

    I still haven’t figured out how to master the croissants. I usually cook those last and since we have so many people it takes around 30 minutes. I’m worried the food gets too cold while I’m doing this. Any suggestions on how to coordinate the dinner rolls with the meal?

    • Slow cookers are great for keeping things warm and freeing up some space on the stove kit10. For the croissants, could you bake them early in the day just before the turkey goes in? When done, leave them somewhere at room temp, then pop back in the oven to re-heat while the bird is being carved – that way, everything could be served warm.

  21. Hi Lorna! Just passing by to say thanks! Thanks to your helpful tips my Thanksgiving dinner was a success. I was able to plan ahead and did not have to do any last minute shopping. From what my friends tell me the supermarkets were full with hordes of people. So I saved a lot of time in that front. I bought disposable cups, plates, forks, spoons and knives, so when it came down to the clean up it was a total time saver. Let me tell you, your suggestion in dry-brining the turkey was awesome! I got the job done in half the time, and the results were much tastier. I served the food buffet-style and there was a lot more space in the table, making the meal much more enjoyable. In the end I opted for buying already made desserts at Costco and they were delish! Lastly my Mom and friends pitched in to help clear the little dishes that were left, leaving me with a lot more time to truly enjoy the evening! Thanks again!

  22. That’s awesome Michelle, thanks so much for taking the time to let us know of your successes! The dry brine’s a treat, isn’t it? Personally, I’ll go to almost any length to avoid the stores right before a holiday, and pre-shopping is the ticket for saving time and money. So glad you were able to enjoy your meal and time with friends and family!

  23. These are really good tips. Some of it is commonsense really like preparing certain things ahead of time. Every year persons tend to load the day with all the work and by dinner time they end up being exhausted. So I say whatever can be done before the actual day should be done to reduce thanksgiving day stress. Thank you for the tips though.

  24. This was such a good article that I had to revisit it before Christmas. We basically do Thanksgiving dinner again during this holiday season. We just can’t get enough turkey, so we do it all over again instead of having ham or something else.

    Of course, many of this tips are great for any big meal or special occasion, but I’m a turkey person, so those are my favorites.

  25. Absolutely interchangeable with Christmas dinner Zyni, and as you say, for most feasts as well. Except for the turkey part. Hope you have a wonderful, festive meal and get your fill of the big bird!


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