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7 Thanksgiving day hacks (best tips for hosting your first one)

A couple years ago, my father passed the Thanksgiving Dinner torch to me. Growing up, it was always a small celebration – me, my dad and brother. We don’t usually do a Turkey, instead my dad started the lovely tradition of having Cornish Hens, which he did quite nicely, I might add.

While I’m relatively handy in the kitchen (developed over years of trying), I’m not ready for a huge dinner party. I’ve regularly added more guests to my Thanksgiving dinner and although still small by some standards, we’ve had as many as a dozen. So, I’ve switched between offering a Turkey and Cornish Hens on Thanksgiving depending on the size of my guest list. But here’s my best Thanksgiving day hacks whether yours is a party of 2 or 20.

Even with the best planning, things can go wrong. Here are some hacks if you’ve forgotten items or worse: you have a minor catastrophe on Thanksgiving Day.

  1. Did you have ambitions of making rolls from scratch? Me? Not gonna happen. I purchase Sister Schubert’s rolls to serve. The rolls are frozen, but bake up in less than 10 minutes perfectly with just a brush of butter on top.
  2. Can I tell you secret? I’ve never cooked a Turkey! I usually order mine from a local restaurant. But I slave away on the side dishes, so that makes up for it right? At least that’s what I tell myself. If you’re ambitious enough to do it, kudos to you! But if your Turkey does not turn out well, head to your neighborhood grocery store. I know that Kroger has Herb Roasted Chickens and are a great alternative to turkey. I purchase them regularly for an easy weekday meal. If you’ve got a bunch of sides, three should be plenty for a crowd of a dozen people. They are hot and ready to eat.
  3. While I may be great at planning ingredients, I often forget supplies like tin foil. Duh! It’s nice to know I can send my hubs out to those grocery stores open on Thanksgiving day to pick up supplies like this. Or butter, or sugar, spices, etc.
  4. What’s Thanksgiving without Cranberry sauce, right? It’s super easy to make with just cranberries (1 bag), cinnamon (1 tsp), sugar (1 cup) and OJ. (1 cup). Just boil together and let cool. I promise, the citrusy orange juice makes this an in demand side each year at my house. Plus, you can make it ahead of time and have one less thing to do on Thanksgiving day.

    Thanksgiving day hack #5 – there’s no shame in serving a store bought dessert

  5. While I’m making confessions, can I tell you something else? I don’t bake. I’ve tried but I’m a terrible baker. I ALWAYS either order pies from a local restaurant or my Aunt bakes her famous Apple Cranberry pie for us. If your plans for dessert fall through, it’s nice to know you can rely on Kroger for a supply of Sweet Potato or Pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day. But there are plenty of other desserts in the frozen section that can be ready in time for Thanksgiving dessert if purchased the same day.
  6. kroger-wineFamily staying for an extended period of time? Bring on the booze! Stock up on wine so you don’t run out. Currently I’m “testing out” several varietals to serve at Thanksgiving. There’s a Liberty School Cabernet and a Layer Cake Malbec, both I’ve found for under $15. But there’s no rule you have to serve wine. You could serve craft beer too.
  7. Planning on heading to the movies after Thanksgiving dinner? Pick up some the individual wine cups to go. The sealed plastic containers are great for concealing in purses and easy to dispose of. But you didn’t get this idea from me.

As you can probably tell from some of what’s written above, I strive to support local businesses. Even when you visit local grocers, many stock local good. So, please strive to buy locally sourced products.

I hope your Thanksgiving Day feast is filled with joy and delicious food. And if you’re in charge, remember, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. And several stores will be open that day and have your back! Hope these Thanksgiving hacks aren’t necessary but at least you have them as a backup!

About the author

Malika Bowling

Malika is the author of several books including Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! and the founder of Roamilicious. She is also a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant. Follow us @Roamilicious on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for the content not shared on the blog. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter (subscribe box below) and never miss a contest, giveaway or the latest must visit restaurant!