5 steps for a stress-free Thanksgiving

Published on November 02 2009 - 3:45 PM

For several years my husband and I have hosted a big pre-Thanksgiving bash for our friends. Until we started throwing these parties, I had done little but set the table for Thanksgiving dinner. I had never carved a turkey before or made gravy, and my pie-making skills were a joke. Now I have it down to a science.

Here are 5 steps to help you host a stress-free Thanksgiving:

1. Have a game plan. I used to make fun of my mom for all the lists she wrote before a party. A list of what she was making. A list of who was coming and what everyone was bringing. A grocery list. A list of what she would do when. As much as I hate to admit it, she was right. It’s so much less stressful when you have a plan. Get recipes, full Thanksgiving menus and day-by-day planners in EatingWell’s Complete Thanksgiving Guide.

2. Delegate. You don’t have to make everything. If you’re hosting, plan to make the turkey, then say, “Yes!” whenever someone offers to bring something. Keep track of what your guests plan to bring so you don’t have three bowls of mashed potatoes and no pumpkin pie (the horror!). If they need ideas, send them a link to these amazing Thanksgiving side dishes and dessert recipes.

3. Bake a delicious pie. It’s not hard! My husband has even mastered the fluted edge and he’s only baked two pies in his life.

4. Learn to carve a turkey… Here, print out this step-by-step turkey-carving guide and tape it to the kitchen cabinet closest to where you’ll be carving the turkey. The photos and step-by-step instructions are so helpful when you’re in the heat of the moment. Seriously.

5. …and make gravy that’s not lumpy. Print out this easy photo guide to making pan gravy and tape it to the kitchen cabinet closest to your stove. Making gravy is really easy but lumps are still a problem for even the best cooks. Having these pictures handy will be helpful on the big day!

A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, 2-year-old daughter and dog.