Thanksgiving is a holiday about family, togetherness and well-wishes. However, Thanksgiving Dinner can be a daunting proposition to a first-time host, especially if you're going to be serving family or people who come with expectations of delicious turkey and all the trimmings.
Just because you haven't been to culinary arts college, it doesn't mean you're screwed. If you're going to tackle the meal, here are some tips to make sure things run as smoothly as possible.
Be Clear On Who's Bringing/Making What - Nothing can derail a Thanksgiving feast like finding out that three people made the same sweet potato casserole dish and no one made stuffing or cranberry sauce. The look on someone's face who's been dreaming of those dishes will tell you everything you need to know.
Instead, make a plan beforehand. Decide what you are going to make and then delegate the rest to guests who are interested. Don't force someone to make a dish they don't want to. It likely won't come out that well. If you know someone who is involved in the culinary arts or is enthusiastic about cooking, try to find out what their specialty is and ask them to make that.
Get The Turkey Time Right - The turkey is the centerpiece of the meal so you better make sure it's cooked properly and done at a reasonable time. Average cooking time for a turkey that has been thawed is 15 minutes per pound. However, all ovens and birds are different, so I highly suggest you try cooking a turkey or something similar a few days beforehand. It will give you a good idea of how your oven cooks compared to the standards. Also, keep an internal temperature thermometer handy to prevent under or over-cooking the turkey. You don't need a culinary arts college degree to know you'll need that.
Keep Guests Entertained - It's not all just about the meal. What are your guests doing beforehand and what are they doing afterward. Make sure there are plenty of snacks available to nibble on. There's sure to be football on so make sure your TV gets the right channels for fans. If children are attending then get games, computers and other toys ready for their enjoyment. And of course, make sure you're having fun and making yourself available to interact with everyone.
And remember, it’s never too early to start planning! Do you have any Thanksgiving Dinner Tips?