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23 Simple, Time-Saving Hacks to Make Hosting Thanksgiving Easy

23 Time-saving hacks to make hosting thanksgiving easy - Whether you're entertaining for the first time or tenth, you will find lots of good advice and practical tips in this article including ideas for dinner menu items, shopping list, and make ahead preparation. Tips and a checklist for a simple family celebration with kids. Great for a crowd of friends including products you need, recipes to make, and a special method for roasting the turkey.

Getting ready to host Thanksgiving dinner can get a little {ahem} stressful, but it doesn’t have to. Using these 23 time and sanity-saving hacks, along with the timelines and printables in my ebook, How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Meal, you can serve a simple and easy feast and actually get to sit down on the big day!

  1. Plan ahead. You absolutely, positively, must start a few weeks in advance by planning out your menu and making a grocery list. Then you’ll be ready to cook the make-ahead dishes before the actual holiday, and that will make everything go a lot easier the day-of. How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Meal contains page after page of printable timelines, telling you exactly what to do and when to prepare for an easy, stress-free day.
  2. Decide on your menu. Whether you go traditional or modern, you will need to figure out what you’re going to make and serve for the meal. In the pages of How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Meal, I share 12 recipes that, put together, make a complete, traditional meal. You could piece a menu together from several different online sources and cookbooks, but why go to all that work when I’ve done it for you?
  3. Make a shopping list. Once you have your recipes, you will need to write a list of all the ingredients and tools you’ll need to have on hand. Again, you could print out all the recipes you’ve chosen, tally everything up, and make a list, or you could just print the lists I’ve included in How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Meal, already prepared, organized by aisle of the grocery store, and all ready to go.
  4. Defrost the turkey. It takes a turkey at least 1 day to defrost in the fridge per 4 pounds of bird. So, if you’re making a 16 pound turkey, it needs to be in the refrigerator at least 4 days prior to Thanksgiving. I always err on the high side and put mine in the refrigerator at least one day earlier than recommended, and I’ve still had them frozen on the inside on the morning of Thanksgiving. It’s not the end of the world (everything can be saved), but it’s a lot more work to defrost the turkey on Thanksgiving morning than it is to just let it sit in the fridge for a week or so.
  5. Start cooking early. In the timelines I’ve prepared for you in the pages of How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Meal, I suggest that you start cooking on Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. You’ll do a few things on Tuesday night, a few on Wednesday night, and a few on Thursday morning. As with the above items, you can figure this all out for yourself or simply print out the timeline I’ve prepared in my ebook.
  6. Wash all those potatoes in the dishwasher. You can throw your whole bag of potatoes into the dishwasher – with no soap of course – turn on a quick cycle, and your spuds will come out clean and peel more easily! Doing it this way frees you up and allows you to prepare something else while the potatoes get clean.
  7. Peel your potatoes the easy way. You will not believe how easy it is to peel a whole bag of potatoes using this method.
  8. Make CrockPot mashed potatoes. CrockPot mashed potatoes are like the easiest thing ever, and they require absolutely no work on Thanksgiving morning, aside from possibly stirring in a little milk and butter if they get too thick. You can download this recipe for free in the sample of How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Meal below.
    Purchase the full 56-page ebook, printables, and guide:

    $5.00Add to cart

  9.  Print your recipes and hang them on the kitchen cabinets. This will keep them at eye-level during cooking, and you won’t have to sort through a stack of papers to figure out that measurement you need.
  10. Instead of a tablecloth, cover the kids’ table with white or brown kraft paper and set out crayons. It’s an instant activity that will keep kids busy while you’re putting food out on the table.
  11. Protect your wooden table from spills by covering it with an old vinyl shower curtain before laying out the tablecloth.
  12. Make your whole house smell amazing by cooking homemade cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving morning. There is (of course) a simple and easy recipe in How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Meal.
  13. Add bacon to your turkey. Our special roasting method cooks the turkey in record time – less than half the normal roasting hours, but still, the turkey tastes so much better if you cover the breast with slices of bacon prior to putting it in the oven. The bacon will cook along with the turkey, and it will give a rich flavor to the breast meat.
  14. Put the drinks on ice. Literally. Store all the drinks on the back porch in coolers with actual ice cubes. This will free up space in the refrigerator and keep drink-seeking guests out of the way and away from the kitchen.
  15. Use veggies in place of a roasting rack. If you can’t find your roasting rack or simply don’t have one, use peeled carrots, quartered onions, and stalks of celery to prop the turkey up out of its juices as it cooks. Bonus – the drippings will taste amazing when you use them to make gravy.
  16. …Or make a roasting rack from aluminum foil. Instructions here.
  17. Remove the fat from the drippings in the freezer. You don’t need a special tool to separate the fat from the turkey drippings before you make your gravy. Simply pour the drippings into a glass measuring cup, stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes, and then scoop the solidified fat away with a spoon.
  18. Skip the stuffing. Our cooking method won’t allow you to stuff the bird anyway, but if you roast the turkey the traditional way, you still don’t want to stuff it. A stuffed bird lacks proper airflow through the cavity and doesn’t cook as evenly as a bird without stuffing. Make your bready side dish, but leave it on the side and outside the bird.
  19. Bake stuffing in muffin tins. Everybody loves the crispy stuffing along the edges of the pan, so give them all what they want by spooning the stuffing into a muffin pan before baking. There is an amazing recipe for chestnut stuffing in How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Meal, and it works perfectly this way.
  20. Remove the turkey from the oven before it’s done. Using a meat thermometer, monitor the internal temperature of your bird while it roasts (either in the thickest part of the breast or thigh, away from bone). Turkey needs to cook to 170 degrees F, but if you leave it in until it hits that temp, the bird will have begun to overcook and dry out by the time you serve it. Instead, remove it from the oven at 160 and let it rest for 30 minutes on the counter. It will continue to cook and reach an internal temperature of 170 before you carve it.
  21. Maximize the turkey’s flavor by carving it correctly. After you’ve used our roasting method, I promise you’ll never go back to the “normal” way, but either way, you can improve on the meat’s flavor by carving it well. First, let the bird rest for a full 30 minutes after removing it from the oven. Take off the thighs first, then separate the drumsticks. After that, remove the wishbone, then the breast, then the wings. Finally, slice up the meat and transfer to a serving platter.
  22. Forget old-fashioned brine. Brining the turkey with a salt water solution is messy. You can, instead, dry brine your bird with almost no mess and have an equally flavorful turkey to serve your guests. Note: This requires a thawed turkey a full 3 days before cooking.
  23. Skip the basting. There’s no point to basting and it just makes your turkey take longer to cook as all that oven door opening lowers the oven temperature. If you follow the suggestions above and  in How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Meal, your bird will not be dry.

You can host an excellent holiday meal and spend time with your guests.

Whether you have a lot of cooking experience or none at all, you will be able to follow these instructions, plan, and host a relaxed, traditional, holiday dinner.

Does the idea of hosting a holiday meal leave you completely overwhelmed?

Are you dreading a repeat of last year’s Thanksgiving?

Are you wishing you weren’t the host so you could enjoy your friends and family?

Those days are over.

In the pages of How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday Meal, I will guide you through the planning and preparation of a simple, easy, and amazingly delicious holiday feast.

You will receive:

  • A 6-page printable planning checklist that begins in a full month before the holiday
  • A 4-page printable grocery list – divided by sections of the grocery store – with spaces to add your own items
  • 3 printable checklists for the tools you’ll need – bakeware, specialty cooking tools, serving pieces
  • 12 delectable recipes – everything you need for a traditional holiday meal
    • Appetizer ideas
    • Pimento cheese dip
    • A new method of roasting the turkey that results in faster, easier prep and a juicier bird
    • The perfect turkey gravy
    • Crockpot mashed potatoes
    • Candied sweet potatoes
    • Chestnut stuffing
    • Green bean casserole
    • Homemade cranberry sauce
    • 3 easy & amazing pies

23 Time-saving hacks to make hosting thanksgiving easy - Whether you're entertaining for the first time or tenth, you will find lots of good advice and practical tips in this article including ideas for dinner menu items, shopping list, and make ahead preparation. Tips and a checklist for a simple family celebration with kids. Great for a crowd of friends including products you need, recipes to make, and a special method for roasting the turkey.

© 2018 – 2019, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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