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Top 10 Ways to Prepare for a Successful Thanksgiving

November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving is just two days away, and let’s be honest, you still have tons to do. Whether it be tough conversations or a meal you want to be perfect, there are a lot of things to prepare for this Thursday. Here is a quick checklist you can run through to make sure you are ready for whatever dinner with the family might throw at you this holiday season.

1. Prepare side dishes the night before that can be reheated right before dinner.

Cooking by Leo Hidalgo (@yompyz), on Flickr
Cooking” (CC BY 2.0) by Leo Hidalgo (@yompyz)

You may just want to focus on a few main dishes on the day of your big meal. Thanksgiving dinner is never a one-day affair. Be proactive and make what you can in advance, even if that means a late night on Wednesday.

2. If applicable, prepare a song and dance about why you are still single, job hunting, or going back to school.

single by torbakhopper, on Flickr
single” (CC BY 2.0) by torbakhopper

When it comes to some of these topics, you might have some explaining to do. Don’t be caught off guard, otherwise your Grandma may try and set you up with one of her friend’s grandsons, which isn’t the worst thing that could happen. We hear he’s a really nice boy. But go ahead and jot down some bullet points on a notecard just to be safe.

3. Put everything on a timer.

Timer at 0 by numb3r, on Flickr
Timer at 0” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by numb3r

Oven time is precious. Check each recipe you intend to make, take note of the cooking time and map out when you need to start each dish to ensure dinner is ready when your guests are ready. Timing a big meal for a large group of people can be tricky, so the more attention to detail the better.

4. Remove all sensitive political materials before guests arrive.

i voted today by Robert Couse-Baker, on Flickr
i voted today” (CC BY 2.0) by Robert Couse-Baker

We all know how family political debates end. Hopefully, this can be a way to make sure they never start. If you look over this tip, you could set a new family record for most Facebook accounts blocked in one day.

5. Plan an adequate amount of time to thaw your turkey.

20120106-OC-AMW-0077 by USDAgov, on Flickr
20120106-OC-AMW-0077” (Public Domain) by USDAgov

When it comes to working with a frozen bird, nothing can throw a kink in the plans more than not having the turkey ready to cook. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure you give your turkey enough time to thaw before doing the dirty work.

6. Pick one football game to watch, put it on the TV, and hide the remote.

Remote Control, Television - TV-controll by espensorvik, on Flickr
Remote Control, Television – TV-controll” (CC BY 2.0) by espensorvik

In what might be the biggest TV scheduling nightmare of the year, Thanksgiving Day football can put family members at odds like nothing else. Do yourself a favor and diplomatically choose the programming before anybody else gets there, and then promptly throw your remote out the window.

7. Keep a detailed list of every ingredient needed to avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store.

shopping list by BruceTurner, on Flickr
shopping list” (CC BY 2.0) by BruceTurner

Walmart on Thanksgiving Day is not a pretty sight. Something changes in you when vying for the last bag of stuffing. Avoid the hassle and make sure you have every single ingredient accounted for before the big day. Many major grocers even close early on the big day. Plan ahead or you could be out of luck.

8. Pick a clear signal to give when it is time for everybody to leave.

EXIT --> by twicepix, on Flickr
EXIT –>” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by twicepix

Start walking towards the door. Wrap up leftovers. Turn off the lights. Be as passive-aggressive as necessary, because the hardest conversation to be had on Thanksgiving Day is telling people to leave.

9. Ask your neighbor ahead of time to come over and take the group picture.

Family Photo at Thanksgiving by donnierayjones, on Flickr
Family Photo at Thanksgiving” (CC BY 2.0) by donnierayjones

Of course, no Thanksgiving Dinner is complete without the dreaded group picture. Instead of debating who should be behind the camera and not in the picture, ask your neighbor to volunteer and get the photo portion of the evening out of the way.

10. Determine how you are going to divvy up the leftovers.

Leftovers by vxla, on Flickr
Leftovers” (CC BY 2.0) by vxla

Don’t let that one uncle hog all the leftover pie again this year. Clear your fridge, and make your guests happy at the same time. This way you can avoid having to eat turkey sandwiches for weeks after the big meal. Maybe even have containers ready for leftovers so you don’t have to part with any precious piece of your to go collection.

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