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How do you guys handle Thanksgiving dinner?

I have been informed that I get to handle Thanksgiving dinner this year. I have never been in charge of Thanksgiving dinner, never had it at my house, and being told this is enough to head for the hills as it is. But I have a constantly moving toddler to chase after as well and I was wondering how other parents handle it? Any pointers?

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15 Responses to “How do you guys handle Thanksgiving dinner?”

  1. BB said :

    Make the turkey and ask everyone else to bring a dish to share.
    Or, if they are coming from out of town and cannot prepare a dish, then come early to help prepare the meal.

  2. This Never Gets Old said :

    You can order it, Jack Stacks BBQ, has smoked turkey. You can make most the night before. I love to cook, so I pick everything I want to make, ask for some help and cook until midnight. Get up at 8 and finish up. Crock pots, extra burners, a grill or smoker helps, ask a neighbor if you need an extra oven for baking.

  3. gabriela said :

    prepare as much as possible the day before. delegate, delegate, delegate. put in a good movie for the little one. expect for at least one thing to go wrong and don’t sweat it, own it!! finally, just have a good time. never forget the reason for the holiday. i know the first time can be daunting, but you’ll be just fine!

  4. Ⓐⓡⓜⓨ Ⓦⓘⓕⓔ due ??? said :

    Our first Thanksgiving at our house was um, a disaster. We live in a small apartment in a high altitude city. I didn’t prepare for that. The turkey took 2 hrs longer to cook than expected and we had nowhere for people to sit while they were eating, aside from the couch. My family is big; my mom, dad, grandfather, and 3 siblings came over. All the other food I cooked was great, but the turkey was a no go. At least we had ham, haha! Thank goodness my family still made me feel good about the stuff that DID turn out great, or I might have lost it! LOL

    I won’t be able to try again this year. My baby is due at the end of November. Thanksgiving plans are up in the air at this point.

  5. pdooma said :

    It’s not that hard.

    Once you get the turkey in, the rest is just making side dishes.

    Turkey tips? Brine it the night before in a salt and apple cider bath. And then cook it breast down so the fattier parts drip down into the breast so it doesn’t get dry. A cook in bag or a tightly fitted roasting pan does the trick.

    Ask others who are coming to bring the sides, if you feel overwhelmed. Most people are happy to contribute a dish and an appetizer.

  6. Emily E said :

    First, you have the right to say no!! If you want to host, that is great. When I did it. I did the turkey and the mash potatoes and I think 1 pie. Everyone else had to bring the rest of it!! I think it is too much to ask any one person to cook the entire dinner if more then 6 people will be eating. One you put the turkey in the oven, its all but done. Make sure you give it enough days to thaw if you buy a frozen one. You and your husband can peel the potatoes the night before and cover with water in the fridge. This can be done after the baby goes to bed, then you only have to set them on to boil before dinner!

  7. My two cents said :

    Use your chart making skills — I love my clipboard. On it is everything to keep me organized: shopping list, time line of what needs to be done when, as well as a “ways to help” chart so when everyone says “what can I do” I have my answer (because otherwise their good intentions are just interruptions)

    Also, try a noon meal — you’re kids will be asleep when you start and do your prep and a movie or two won’t warp them for life 😉 For older kids have some activities ready: have them make hats or know some go-to games to keep them occupied (similar to the “what can I do to help” chart)

  8. I レo√乇 Mason! said :

    You’ll be fine…. You will be in charge of making the turkey which is really not that difficult…

    It’s ridiculous for anyone to expect you to make the ENTIRE Thanksgiving dinner… People who are coming need to bring a side dish.

    Usually I make green bean casserole, macaroni & cheese (homemade), mashed potatoes with gravy, or I make a pumpkin pie.

    Cook what you can the day before.

  9. average jane said :

    If your not a big cook, you can either cook just the bird and ask the others to bring the sides, OR buy the whole dinner, pre-cooked from your grocery. Ours takes orders pretty early on for the entire feast. I always cook all of ours, but if your having a large crowd, best to enlist some help. As for your little ones, I used to get my husband to watch the kids while I worked in the kitchen.

  10. tmreturns said :

    That was kind of rude to just lay it on you!
    First, Enlist help:
    I think it’s appropriate to ask (or jump on the chance if they offer) everyone coming to bring one dish or essential. This is the way we help whoever hosts in our family. Also, put any kids that are old enough in charge of small tasks such as setting table, topping the casseroles, stirring, making name cards, cleaning the house, ect. Little things go a long way and it’ll keep them occupied. In fact, put your hubby in charge of the same stuff if he’s not good in the kitchen either.
    Second, Don’t try to do it all if you can’t:
    Many places like a grocery deli or Heavenly Ham, offer full holiday meal packages or separates such as casseroles, desserts, ect if you get in a real pinch. Just make sure to order ahead.
    There’s also a great website called that can give you quick recipes if you get stuck based on what ingredients you have.

    Hope this helps! Enjoy your Holiday!

  11. Big Daddy R said :

    Plan ahead menu wise and prepare ahead where you can. Things like homemade mac and cheese and yams are fine to reheat and serve. Also plan ahead the meal time then count backward from there. The turkey is the most time consuming thing so it needs to be defrosted and ready to go. Get up early and put it in the oven first (that is how I do it some people do the sides first) depending on the size you get you can have the turkey done by 10 am set aside and let it rest. Then make your sides you have left when done place the things you did the night before in casseroles that can go from table to oven or a foil pan and heat in the oven with a few slices of the turkey and leg and wing for like 15 min to get it warm

  12. Ambiance said :

    Try organizing yourself the night before. Go over what your making and lay out what you need the next day. Cut up any veggies that need cutting and keep them in some water in the fridge over night. That will save you some time. Desert can be made the day before or a couple days in advance. Make snacks the night before to keep people happy if they come over early or stay later. It’s less work for you the day of. Invite some family members over early to keep the kids entertained. Rent a kids movie to get some emergency quite time. Have a family member who wants to help you come over and be of some assistance in the kitchen.

    I never found it to be all that bad, but I live to entertain. It’s something I love to do. We have family in Canada and the US. I host the Canadian Thanksgiving and the US Thanksgiving dinners. Try and have fun and not let yourself get too stressed. Don’t be ashamed to drag someone into the kitchen and ask for help. Moms are a great resource. Ask your mom, your in-laws (if you have them) or someone else’s mom into the room if you are unsure how to make anything. It’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. You’ll do great.

  13. jnjmommy said :

    It really depends on how you look at it (and how many people you have over. Last year I only had 8) I had a blast doing it. And I had two little ones to look after. You could ask for extra help like someone to keep an eye on them while you cooked.

  14. Russkie Printessa said :

    Me,my MIL and my mum get together the night before and make stock for the gravy(out of various herbs and spices and the giblets). On the day, you just need to handle it like your cooking a big roast.

  15. Jillian said :

    I hosted my first Thanksgiving when mine was 6 months old. You’ll need some help with getting the house ready. I would start planning out a menu and lists now. Decide on what you need to buy (paper plates, napkins, etc) and figure out what you are going to make. Have guests bring side dishes. Maybe you’ll only have to do the turkey and gravy which is very easy. If you do get stuck making sides, some of them can be done ahead of time. I read that you can peel and cut potatoes and leave them in a pot covered with water up to 24 hrs. I do a stuffing in a crock pot. You can do pies the night before.

    Have your husband or relatives keep the baby occupied while you cook.

    I’m doing Thanksgiving this year too for the second time. Sucks for me b/c I work until 5 the day before.


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