Thanksgiving is this week + a giveaway!


Since the original winners never emailed me, I had to re-draw for the Turkey gift cards!

cara….who said:

I try to get as much done as I can the night before and we rent an extra fridge!


Kayla…who said:

My tip is to make your SIL host so you can just show up with your pecan pie and call it a day. :P 

For the two of you who won, to redeem your prize, please email me within 48 hours at! Congratulations!


I absolutely cannot believe that Thanksgiving is this week. It feels like a few weeks ago, I was sweating like crazy any time I stepped outside. Oh wait…that weather is still going on here.

Maybe that’s why I can’t believe it. Ah, life in the South. Turkey Day in 80 degrees is the norm around here. To get myself in the mood, I usually start baking up a storm.

Turkey Cake Pops

I made these little guys two years ago to get myself in the mood for Thanksgiving. I’d love to make them again, but only two were eaten. Why? Well, because they were “too pretty to eat”. ::sigh::

Two years ago was the first time my husband and I hosted Thanksgiving for family. I vividly remember all of the planning that went into it and hoping it would turn into a magazine worthy meal of amazingness.

Sounds good, right? Well, let’s just say that didn’t happen. At all.

My husband and I worked pretty intensely to make sure the house was sparkly clean and all of the dishes were prepped for the day, but when it came to it, I just couldn’t get efficient. I felt like I was in a dream where everything was in slow motion, and by the time my Mom arrived, there were dirty dishes on the floor (ran out of counter space and didn’t have the motivation to do all of those dishes), and I’m sure I was probably in the fetal position on the floor begging for the last minute things to just take care of themselves. HA!

As much as my husband tried to tell me everything would be OK, I just panicked.

I think there should be a special place in heaven for moms. My mom just walked in the kitchen and helped me to get a handle on things.

Since hindsight is 20/20, I have quite a few tips to make Thanksgiving better:

  • Do NOT be afraid to ask your guests for help when they offer. Seriously…they’re offering to help! They can do something as small as opening the can of cranberry sauce and plating it. It all me!


  • Clean the dishes as you go. If you take a few minutes to just do your dishes as you dirty them, you won’t end up with a huge pile of them at the end of the day.


  • Wear an apron. Just do it. Unless you’re the type of person who likes to eat at the table with crusted stuffing on your shirt.


  • A week ahead of time, make a time line. I can’t tell you how much this helped. Most dishes and desserts can be made the day before, and for dishes that have to be made the day of, have your ingredients prepped and ready to go! For the day of, something I’ve always learned when hosting a party is that no matter what, you will always need an extra hour to get everything ready. Give yourself an hour buffer in the time line.


  • Buy some disposable containers at the store for your guests, so you aren’t stuck with 20 lbs. of leftover food. Most people don’t think to bring their own containers, and with the disposable ones, you won’t have to hound your family to get your good containers back!


  • If you have any turkey questions, don’t be afraid to call the nice folks at Butterball on their Turkey Talk Line! Their number is 1-800-BUTTERBALL. There will be people there to answer the phones on Thanksgiving Day! There’s also some great FAQs about turkey on their website here.


  • Oh, and most importantly, your dinner does NOT need to look like a magazine spread.  As long as the food is tasty, and you’re with people you care about and love, your Thanksgiving dinner will be a success!

Since it’s the turkey season, the great folks at Butterball are offering TWO lucky Nifty Foodie readers a free Butterball turkey gift certificate!! To get ready for the big dinner this week, I’d love for you to share your Thanksgiving tips in the comments as an entry to win!

You have until Friday, November 25th, 2011 at 11:59pm to enter.  This giveaway is only valid to readers in the continental U.S.

If you’re looking for some great recipes for Thanksgiving, check out last year’s Thanksgiving round-up of my favorite recipes.


  1. Love those turkey cake pops! Would love a free turkey more. 😉

  2. Wow, who knew that Butterball had a turkey help hotline? That’s pretty awesome, haha. Hosting our first Thanksgiving dinner this year, but trying to keep it casual, while my Mom is trying to make it fancier…eek! So I have no tips, only a request for good luck! :)

  3. I’m hosting for the first time. I’m trying to do as much prep ahead of time as I can – cutting up veggies Monday or Tuesday, drying out the bread for the stuffing, etc. My biggest problem is going to be finding space in the fridge for everything.

  4. We’re hosting our first Thanksgiving this year & I’ve given instructions to our guests as to what to bring so we don’t end up with more than one green bean casserole! Funny you say to make a timeline- My husband thought I was crazy for making a day of/day before itinerary! It’s the only way to stay organized. Also, I read somewhere that when making your grocery list, instead of making it by adding ingredients to each recipe, make it according to the layout of the store. That way, you don’t have to get the eggs for the cake when you’ve already passed it up and are near the bread for the stuffing! Happy Turkey Day!

  5. We had Thanksgiving outside a few years ago – picnic style! I remember it being warm enough for shorts, which doesn’t happen in Ohio during Thanksgiving! You’ve already listed great tips, the only one I can think to add is to make your mashed potatoes ahead of time, but put them in the crockpot to keep them hot that day to save space.

  6. Making a timeline was the thing that helped me the most my first Thanksgiving! I quickly realized in my planning that oven temps + # of dishes I had was never going to work! :-) Had to make some menu changes…luckily I realized that in advance rather than the day of 😉

  7. My tip is plan early and get on a timeline.

  8. My tip is to go out to dinner like we have been doing for the last few years. :) My mom does not cook anymore, I don’t want to cook in someone else’s kitchen and no one will come to us to eat. So we decided to go out. Great food and no clean up.

    I would love to attempt to make the meal just not on Thanksgiving. I have never made a turkey before and a free one would give me some peace of mind if I mess it up.

  9. amy marantino says:

    my tip is to relax and remember to enjoy

  10. My lists of lists have been key – ingredients, shopping trips, baking times… and I love your apron idea, because I’m usually wearing mashed potatoes by the end of cooking!

    Thanks for hosting – I’d love to win a turkey! Mmm!

  11. Do as much prep as you can ahead of time..and divide responsibilities among people attending! We always do it potluck style :)

  12. I try to get as much done as I can the night before and we rent an extra fridge!

  13. I’m starting all my prep work tomorrow. I think it’s best to spread things out. Make your desserts ahead of time (2-3 days) and ask family for help! I think that’s the biggest one!

  14. Julie Kampwerth says:

    I just hosted Friendsgiving over the weekend and asked our guests to bring a dish to help with the cooking. It worked out well.

  15. I haven’t hosted before but we usually bring a dish which I think helps the hostess out a lot.

  16. My best advice is to plan ahead! It will allow you to enjoy the meal, instead of furiously arranging things at the last minute.

  17. Plan ahead! Make a list of dishes you’re planning on making and use that to make your grocery list. Also, list which dishes are being made in what to make sure you have enough pots and pans.

  18. Sherry Lykins says:

    Most casseroles can be mixed the day ahead so all you have to do is pop them in the oven thanksgiving day. Also we allways use a roaster for the turkey to free up the oven!

  19. Jeanne ODonnell says:

    My family owns a restaurant, so I always work on Thanksgiving. After everyone has eaten I sit down with my family for dinner at the restaurant. It works for us!

  20. I have never hosted, but if I win a turkey I am throwing a late Thanksgiving and making the whole thing. I want to… darn traditions!

  21. My tip is to make your SIL host so you can just show up with your pecan pie and call it a day. 😛

  22. My advice is to plan out your menu ahead, then shop, then make a timeline of when to start preparing/cooking everything. Works for me every year.

  23. I start most prep work 1-2 days ahead.
    rjs682 at yahoo dot com

  24. Give your bird plenty of time to rest before carving…’ll help keep it moist.

  25. i am working over night the night before thanksgiving.. my tip for an easy dish to bring along…. pumpkin fluff dip!! 1 pkg french vanilla pudding, 15 oz pumpkin, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice and a tub of cool whip. serve with fruit or vanilla wafers for dipping! so good :)

  26. Those are adorable! Put me down for a free turkey :)

  27. My advice? Don’t forget that there is a little bag of “goodies” stuffed inside your turkey. I will never forget 3 years ago when Justin’s friend was making Thanksgiving for her and her husband’s family for the first time and she had no idea that existed. The turkey was already cooking in the oven and we were chatting. She said it was her first time cooking a turkey, and I jokingly asked her how much fun it was to stick her hand up inside there to get that bag out…and her face is forever etched in my memory. She was on the turkey hotline begging them to tell her if her turkey would be ruined with the plastic bag of extra parts still inside of it! HAHA!

  28. My best tip: crockpots, crockpots, crockpots. Best way to keep everything warm without stressing…

  29. Great tips! I think getting as much done as you can ahead of time is key. I have been running around like a crazy woman today so I can (hopefully) relax and enjoy the day tomorrow!

  30. Great tips! I love to make mashed potatoes ahead of time and keep them in the crockpot, so easy, and much less mess at the last minute.

  31. I’ve never hosted either, but plan on doing so either Christmas this year or Thanksgiving next year. I’m hoping I win just so I can practice putting on a good dinner before jumping in next month! Thanks for the tips – I’ll need ’em!

  32. Start cooking what you can a few days out.

  33. cook what you can ahead and reheat right before dinner
    ryanac32 at yahoo dot com

  34. I use nice disposable plates and silverware to cut cleanup time
    tmc489 {at} yahoo {dot} com

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