T minus 1 – Get these tasks out of the way today
November 23rd, 2011
09:30 AM ET
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We're sharing our time-tested Thanksgiving hosting tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities, hosts and home cooks we love. Our goal – sending you into Thanksgiving with a confident smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on the other side with your sanity intact.

Know what? You're going to have an incredible Thanksgiving - even if you haven't given it a single thought until today. None of these dishes are rocket science and if you're clever, you're going to take our advice and accept all offers of help.

Still, our inner Boy Scout would be most cross with us if we didn't do everything in our power to get you prepared to have a calm and blissful day with the people you love (or at least put up with once a year).

Grab our buying guide, consult our killer list of tips and recipes and leave any questions in the comments below. Just because Eatocracy isn't gonna sleep 'til Black Friday doesn't mean you can't.

Prepping

Got pie crusts to pre-bake, a turkey to brine or vegetables to peel? Enlist your family or invite over a pal and make a date of it. Put on some great music, pour a glass of wine (careful with the chopping!) and enjoy the bonding time.

A few tasks that can be pre-mastered:

- Bake any pastry shells.
– Top crusts can be rolled, sandwiched between layers of waxed paper and rolled into a tube until they're needed.
– Cube bread for stuffing so it has time to get a bit stale; fresh bread will be too soggy.
– Bake from-scratch bread and rolls.
– Chop and peel vegetables that won't be served raw. Store them in breathable produce bags in your refrigerator's crisper.
– Many casseroles and other sides benefit from a days or two of flavor-melding time. Make and stash green bean or squash casserole, dressing, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, mac and cheese, creamed onions, corn pudding, cranberries and plenty of other dishes ahead of time. Leave elements like crunchy toppings and fresh herbs out until the dish is ready to be re-heated and served.

It's not too late!

Say, you've read through this and it's put you into a tizzy. We apologize – this is meant to empower, rather than incite panic. Still, if you're legitimately freaked out, consider a few alternatives.

1. Join forces with another friend who's hosting. Either combine gatherings or divide and conquer. One of you may excel at side dishes and the other at housecleaning. Play to your strengths and share resources.

2. Accept any and all offers of help. If there's one message we've tried to convey, it's don't be a martyr; be a host. People want to help and ideally, if they're invited, they're totally on your side. Let 'em assist and just thank them profusely in a heartfelt pre-meal toast.

3. Order pies, sides, even the turkey itself from a grocery store or restaurant. If someone has the bad manners to complain, proclaim loudly and gratefully that you heartily accept that as their offer to host the festivities next year.

4. Pull up stakes and move the party to a restaurant. Plenty offer prix fixe meals for Thanksgiving, and you won't be stuck with the clean-up.

5. If you're confident in your cooking skills, but not these particular dishes – just revamp the menu and go all out on your favorites. Perhaps you're known for a killer lasagna or you're exceptionally skilled at grilling. Go with that. People might be momentarily disappointed not to have sweet potato casserole or a great big drumstick, but if you're cooking with love, that'll shine on through.

After all, isn't it the company that counts?

Got questions? Leave 'em in the comments below and we'll do our best to help you out.

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Filed under: Cooking • Feature • Holiday • Holidays • HolidayShopping • Make • T Minus • Thanksgiving • Thanksgiving


soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. jessica

    Please, please don't go to a restaurant...I have not spent a holiday with my mother for 10 years...if you do feel like you HAVE to go, please be nice. Remember, those serving you are unable to spend the day with their own family...they may look happy on the outside, but on the inside, they just want to be home, with their own family, not serving yours.

    November 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Kim

      Why would you tell people not to go to a restaurant? The servers are there already–wouldn't they rather be getting tips from customers than sitting around doing nothing? Since they have to work on Thanksgiving day, they might as well be getting tips...

      November 24, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  2. santana

    i can't believe they're already playing christmas songs. they started like three weeks ago. what is wrong with these people? D:

    November 23, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  3. Charlotte

    LOL! Gravy started at six o'clock this morning (I like to take 2 days to cook the stock before actually making w/ drippings and the last-minute roux). Stuffing: bread all cubed. Celery and onions all chopped and in tuppers in fridge. Cheesecakes baked. Pies about to be baked. Turkey almost all thawed. Sprouts, green beans, potatoes and cranberries all delegated to dinner guests. Just have to decide how I want to fix the yams....probably roasted. In short, almost nothing to do tomorrow besides stuff the bird and throw it into the oven, then finish the gravy! I guess I can lay fires in the fireplaces, and hope to spend a little time with the horses tomorrow (work up an appetite, LOL!)

    November 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  4. pokie

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm food

    November 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • pokie

      tomorrow is 1st day in 3 days i get to eat..being poor sucks. at least i am upper poor. i have a job and a car. renting house.

      November 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
      • master of disaster

        lol

        November 23, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
      • Charlotte

        I feel your pain. When I was in grad school I went a couple of semesters without support. My Christmas dinner was brown rice that year :( and I ate so darn much Top Ramen (on sale, 6 cents a pack) that I have never eaten it since....that was in 1986.....

        November 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  5. Grothnar, Troll King

    First!!!! I hereby claim this spot for trolls and troglodytes worldwide!!

    November 23, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Snorlax

      Go eff yourself.

      November 23, 2011 at 10:18 am |
      • Big Al

        Don't worry, you'll get the first spot some day.. Good luck, kid.

        November 23, 2011 at 10:26 am |
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