Easy Thanksgiving Day Dinner – 9 Tips for Holiday Meals

Enjoy an easy Thanksgiving Day dinner with these tips for holiday meals! Here are nine ways to make Thanksgiving easy, based on my years of experience cooking for family and friends…

Before the tips, a quip:

“How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age,” said Sir John Templeton. “Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child’s personality. A child is resentful, negative-or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.”

It’s not just kids — adults, too, radiate happiness and draw people when they’re thankful. Thanksgiving can be stressful for many reasons, such as roasting a big turkey for lots of people, but it’s important to stay thankful no matter what.

If you want to create a traditional Thanksgiving meal, read Thanksgiving 101: Celebrate America’s Favorite Holiday with America’s Thanksgiving Expert. And, here are nine holiday tips to make Thanksgiving Day dinner easier…

Easy Thanksgiving Day Dinner – 9 Tips for Holiday Meals

1. Split the turkey duties. My hubby took care of roasting the turkey, turkey gravy, table extension and settings, wine pouring, and turkey carving. I made the stuffing, vegetarian gravy, mashed potatoes, and baked yams. To make a Thanksgiving Day dinner easy, divide up the duties and ask guests to pitch in if needed.

2. Create a Thanksgiving Day dinner schedule. Here’s what our Thanksgiving dinner schedule looked like for a 6:30 pm meal: 2 pm, butter and stuff the turkey and get it into the oven; 3:30 pm, make two dishes of stuffing to bake outside the turkey; 4 pm, start boiling the potatoes for mashed potatoes; 6 pm, make gravy. This schedule made Thanksgiving dinner much easier — the day just flowed! 

3. Add extra time for turkey roasting. To make sure your guests aren’t waiting extra long for Thanksgiving Day dinner, add an extra 45 minutes to your prep time after the turkey is roasted. This allows the turkey juices to set after it’s taken out of the oven (20 minutes), time for carving (15 minutes), and time to transfer the turkey pieces to the serving platter (approx. 10 minutes, depending on how fancy your serving platter is).

4. Ask guests to bring wine, dessert, or side dishes. Instead of attempting to make the perfect Thanksgiving Day dinner all by yourself, ask your guests to participate! This reduces stress, lets everyone taste other people’s food, and allows guests to contribute. Wine, dessert, veggie platters, and the guests’ own special Thanksgiving dishes are great things to ask for.

5. Serve creamed corn and/or niblets. I didn’t realize until halfway through the meal that the turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and yams really needed a corn side dish. There’s something about corn – especially sweet niblets – that really complements a Thanksgiving Day dinner.

6. Plan to run out of oven space; consider bbq’ing your turkey with a Turkey Cannon. Our oven wasn’t big enough to roast the turkey, two dishes of stuffing or dressing, and two huge yams, so we baked the yams first and kept them warm on the bbq. To make a Thanksgiving Day dinner easy, remember that you only have a limited number of stove and oven space! Either create a turkey roasting schedule, or consider bbq’ing your turkey. This funny-looking silver thing is a Camp Chef Turkey Cannon — it’s a fast, delicious, easy way to cook a turkey. It got brilliant reviews on Amazon; click the image for details.

7. Make a fat-free gravy. We found a delicious mushroom, garlic, and onion gravy on the internet that was easy to make – and it contains much less fat than turkey gravy. My hubby made gravy from the turkey drippings, which made this a perfect Thanksgiving Day dinner for some of our guests (but not me – blech).

8. Create space at the Thanksgiving Day dinner table. Have enough space on the table for serving platters, or designate an extra table off to the side. We had to put our platters of food on a nearby counter, but getting up for more food may discourage guests from second helpings. Instead of decorating your Thanksgiving table with huge centerpieces and extra dishware, reserve space for serving platters.

9. Relax and enjoy yourself! This really is the most important way to make a Thanksgiving Day dinner easy: have a good time so your guests can relax and enjoy themselves. There’s nothing worse than a stressed-out host or hostess!

After my hubby and I served our delicious, easy Thanksgiving Day dinner, I decided to record what did and didn’t work for us in How to Roast a Turkey in 7 Easy Steps.

If you have any thoughts or questions on these easy Thanksgiving Day dinner tips, please comment below…

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