7 Secrets for a No-Sweat Thanksgiving Dinner

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Stressed about hosting the big dinner? Don’t be. They’re just simple, homey recipes that you can totally master. Kitchn and OXO sent Faith Durand, our editor-in-chief, into two newbie hosts’ home to prove it. In four episodes, we’ll send you into Turkey Day more excited and confident than ever before. Today, we’re tying it all up.

There are lots of things nobody thinks to tell you about hosting Thanksgiving. But in our final course on Thanksgiving prep, Faith is laying it all out on the table: the ins and outs, the dos and don’ts. Here are the top tips this Thanksgiving vet bestowed on our two Thanksgiving noobs, Jorge and Emily, to keep everything well managed and maybe even fun.

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1. Make a timeline.

Write down your whole menu and prep list starting backwards from when you want to eat. Pro tip: Most of us wake up and dive right into the kitchen. Find the 45 minutes when you can step away from everything and literally schedule yourself a pre-dinner shower. Literally write this down, like on paper with a pen, and hang it somewhere prominent.

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2. Lay it all out.

On Wednesday night, lay out all your serving dishes and serving ware and label them with sticky notes to remember what dish goes where. This is also your moment to get your tablescape together so you don’t have to worry about it tomorrow.

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3. Start clean.

Make sure your dishwasher and your drying rack is empty and ready for the coming storm. It’s also wise to empty the fridge of any old leftovers, and to take out the trash, compost, and recycling to avoid any fuss tomorrow.

From Faith’s OXO Toolkit: It’s hard to find a harder-working drying mat than OXO’s Good Grips Large Silicone Drying Mat. It rolls up or hangs when it’s not in use. When it is, it raises and aerates dishes to dry them more thoroughly and can even double as a trivet for dishes up to 425ºF.

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4. Prep a welcome drink…

It’s always nice to welcome guests with a little libation. Prep a batch drink let it chill out overnight in the fridge, and set up a serve-yourself bar where it’ll land just before the doorbell starts ringing. Faith’s Super Budget Thanksgiving Sangria is a puckery cranberry-infused crowdpleaser that comes in under $10 for two pitchers.

From Faith’s OXO Toolkit: The whole point of batch prepping is to save time; don’t waste it by pulling out half of a stubborn cork. OXO’s Vertical Lever Corkscrew uncorks a bottle with two steps and a comfortable hand motion.

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5. …and a welcome app.

Most guests come hungry for Thanksgiving, especially since it’s one of those weird days where we eat dinner early. Or lunch late. Why is that? Anyway, prep a little nibble the day before and your guests will thank you. Faith loves deviled eggs since they keep well overnight and could be elegant (top them with caviar, why not?) or homey (a sprinkle of paprika is just fine).

From Faith’s OXO Toolkit: OXO makes it easy to batch-cook hard-boiled eggs with a Silicone Pressure Cooker Egg Rack — it holds nine eggs steady (or stack two racks and make room for 18) for an easy prep and doubles as a trivet when it’s time to serve.

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6. Set the mood.

Oft-overlooked, a Thanksgiving playlist is one of the easiest things to prep ahead of time. And there’s something so therapeutic about lighting candles just before the first guests arrive that signal you to transition from prep to party time.

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7. Set aside a moment of gratitude.

By the way, let’s not forget what this holiday is about. Take some time at the table to ask everyone what they’re thankful for in their lives right now. And don’t worry too much about the food. At the end of the day, gratitude is the best seasoning.

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Congratulations! Faith has determined you ready to host Thanksgiving like a champion. (If you need a refresher, we also covered the Turkey Day tentpoles: turkey, pies, and sides.) Don’t sweat the small stuff — you’re cooking for people who love you — and have fun. Everything else is gravy.

This post is sponsored by OXO and was created by the Kitchn Creative Studio.
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