5 Do-Ahead Hacks for Thanksgiving Dinner

By October 27, 2023 No Comments

The big holiday is fast approaching and you’re playing hostess (or host!). It can get really crazy! While cooking a turkey is surprisingly easy, it’s such a challenge to get all of the side dishes ready and hot on the table at the same time.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do ahead to prepare! The best way to start, and to stay on task, is to create a list that will help you as you decide what dishes you will prepare, when you will cook each, and what time you need to get up Thanksgiving morning to prepare the bird. We have a few shortcuts to make your day easier!

1. Peel and cut your potatoes 1-2 days before. Peel and chop, then store in the refrigerator covered in water. They will not turn brown this way and right before it is time to start boiling the mashed potatoes, simply drain the water off and replace with fresh warm water before bringing to a boil.

2. If you make your own stuffing, you will likely need a bit of the trio: onions, celery, and garlic. Go ahead and chop these delicacies up the day before (storing in separate containers) and you have just saved at least 10-15 minutes. (Or save even more time and buy them pre-chopped at the store!) If you’re adding sausage, brown that up the day before and store in the fridge.

3. Make your rolls ahead of time and bake just until set. Store in an airtight container and then you can just heat for 5 minutes to brown a bit before serving, freeing up your oven for other sides.

4. Look for sides that can be prepped the day before, then just baked beforehand. Roasted butternut squash, stuffing, roasted Brussels sprouts… all of these can be totally prepped beforehand and just popped in the oven when the turkey is done, keeping your kitchen clean and you calm!

Photo credit Erin McGinn

5. Set your show stopping table the night before. This allows you to be purposeful in your place settings, place cards, and arrangements, without being rushed and risking spilling something. If you will have a kids table, add a few crayons, and printable coloring pages to keep the younger crowd occupied during dinner.

No hostess likes to be stressed! If you just implement a few of these do-ahead hacks, it should significantly reduce your stress on the big day. This will allow you to be freer to enjoy your guests, and still sit down to a wonderfully tasty homemade meal with a delicious glass of wine. Cheers!