I love hosting our big family meals. Both my husband and I have fairly small families so we are able to fit both sides comfortably in our small house. I find hosting thanksgiving dinner to be a little overwhelming though, particularly with a baby and two small kids. But over the years I’ve figured out a few things to make everything a little easier and less stressful.
1. Instead of cooking one big turkey cook two smaller birds
Getting the timing right is one of the hardest parts of meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. My biggest stress reliever has been to cook two turkeys. I cook one the night before and put the drippings in the fridge. This way even if the day of turkey is late, we can still eat on time. After the drippings have been sitting in the fridge overnight, it is easy to take the fat off the top and you don’t have to wait until the last minute to make the gravy.
2. If you are going to try something new, pick something easy
I have heard over and over again to not try out new recipes for the first time on Thanksgiving. But I do it every single time and more often than not it works out. I highly recommend that everything is not riding on your new recipe though. Try out a new side dish or vegetable. If it doesn’t work out, you can just abandon it and there is no harm done. This year Echelon foods offered me a bacon wrapped turducken to try out. It is a deboned chicken, inside a deboned duck inside a deboned turkey stuffed with sausage. Since I made a turkey the night before, I felt confident in trying something new and looking over the directions, it could hardly be easier. It was a lot of fun to try and all I had to do was defrost and stick it in the oven. The flavour of the stuffing really affects the taste and aroma of the meat so make sure you pick something you like if you want to try it too.
3. Don’t try to do everything yourself
Even though I’m hosting, we share the work. My mother and sister in law take care of the cooked vegetables, my mom handles the salad and pickled vegetables and my brother is always good for a last minute trip to the grocery store or some help in the kitchen right before dinner. I always make sure someone is available to come over early to help me with the kids while I am finishing up in the kitchen.
4. Don’t be afraid to take some short cuts
Not everything you are doing needs to be 100% from scratch every year. Figure out what is important and what isn’t for your family. I have a friend who grabs gravy from KFC and many people will grab a pouch from the grocery store instead of making it from scratch. I had tried many different stuffing recipes but found my husband always like Stove Top Stuffing best. So now I just make that instead of spending time trying to make my own stuffing. Sometimes I make it straight up, but I also like to add things to it so it feels homemade even though it only took a few minutes to make. This year I modified my friend’s family recipe for sausage stuffing – it was super easy, fast and good too! Check out the recipe below.
- 3 Boxes of Stove Top Stuffing
- 1-2 tubes of sausage meat (Maple Leaf sausage meat is what my friend recommends)
- a couple stalks of celery
- an onion or two
- butter for the Stove Top
- Cook up the sausage meat, drain and crumble. This can be done the day before.
- Chop celery and onion and saute until onion softens.
- Cook Stove Top Stuffing according to package directions.
- Mix together.
Those are my best tips! What do you do to keep Thanksgiving manageable?
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post but Echelon Foods provided me with a Turducken for review.