Disclosure: Butterball provided me with a turkey gift check, as well as two other turkey gift checks to giveaway, in exchange for a post. All opinions are 100% my own.
I’ve always been a fan of having big family gatherings for holiday meals. I used to watch my mom, aunts and my grandma flawlessly host Thanksgiving year after year, so when I got married, I thought I would give it a try. I mean, how hard could it be?
I’ll never forget that first year. I ran out of counter space, I ran out of oven space, I ran out of time…I mean, there was a meal at the end, but I was a stressed-out mess. I learned quite a few things, and ever since, while there’s always SOMETHING that doesn’t quite go as planned, our holiday meals have been a whole lot better.
Hosting your Thanksgiving Meal Tips:
- Test recipes before the big meal. My first year, I had the idea to make all of my mom’s recipes, as well as a few online recipes, all of which I never made before. If you make them once, you’ll know exactly how much time they take, what prep is involved, and most importantly, how they turn out. You don’t want recipe fails on Thanksgiving!
- Make a master grocery list as you go. When you find a recipe you like, bookmark it, type out or write out the ingredients you will need, and keep it all in one sheet or file. Then, before the grocery trip, double check that everything is included on the list. You don’t want to be scrambling at a gas station on Thanksgiving morning when you realize you don’t have enough eggs to make the sweet potato casserole!
- Plan out your week. Prepare as much as you can. I like to bake desserts the night before, and prepare vegetables that I’ll need for appetizers and side dishes the night before. For the week of, I have daily to-dos, and for the day of, I have everything planned out to the half hour (with 2 half hour breaks thrown in there, just in case something goes wrong). It might be a little too planned out to some, but it works perfectly for me.
- Make sure the turkey has enough time to thaw. Butterball has a great calculator where you enter the weight of your turkey and it takes all of the guess work out of figuring out how much time the turkey needs to thaw. I prefer refrigerator thawing, because I just put the turkey in a disposable aluminum pan (in case the bag leaks while the turkey is thawing), and let it thaw. Sure, you can cold water thaw a turkey (Butterball has the how-to here) , but it requires you to constantly change out the water, which can be a bit annoying with everything else involved in hosting a meal.
- Make an oven plan. I feel like our oven is always a huge issue on Thanksgiving Day. We’re lucky to have a smoker and my husband’s Dad has an outdoor Turkey “fryer”, so there’s no worries about when the turkey will come out of the oven for when relatives/friends are bringing their dishes to reheat. However, when everyone is bringing a dish that needs to be heated, oven space is a valuable thing. I’ve been known to stack aluminum pans in the oven when it’s almost time to eat.
- Wash dishes as you go. I learned this lesson the hard way. While sometimes guests offer to help out with dishes, I don’t always count on it. Throwing in those half hour breaks/buffers in the planning allows me to take a few minutes to wash/dry dishes as I cook. It really helps!
- Getting those leftovers out of the house. Most of the time, your guests will not bring containers for leftovers. I like to purchase disposable aluminum containers or plastic containers, and after everyone has eaten, portion everything out into those containers for guests to take home. We definitely keep leftovers for ourselves, but being just two people, we don’t need leftovers after a 20 person meal.
- Enjoy. Try not to live in the kitchen all day. Your loved ones are at your house….make sure to spend time with them. 🙂 Also, if guests offer to help out in any way, take them up on it! You aren’t a bad hostess if your guests are helping you out in the kitchen. Chances are, they want to spend time with you! They aren’t just there for a meal! I’ve had a holiday where I felt like it was just me and my husband and 20 other people in our living room…I just kept saying “no” to offers for help. Never again.
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, Butterball’s website is a great resource. This year, Butterball created their own “search engine” for Thanksgiving!
All you have to do is just “Butterball It“, and you will be getting great advice, from over 30 years of wisdom from the experts at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. It’s like a virtual Talk-Line…you can search for recipes (from turkey to side dishes, and even leftover ideas!), how to choose the perfect turkey, methods to cook the turkey, how to carve the turkey and much more! It’s the perfect resource for home cooks. 🙂
Also, as always, the experts at the Turkey Talk-Line are available to answer your questions, too!
The generous folks at Butterball are offering a $20 Turkey gift check to TWO readers of The Nifty Foodie. Enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below (continental US readers only):
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: This giveaway is supplied by Butterball, and is open to readers in the continental US only. Entries will be accepted until November 17th, 2014 at 11:59pm (central standard time). Winner will be emailed (make sure you leave an email address in the form), and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.