Pulling Off The Perfect Turkey Dinner

Thanksgiving Table  Setting

So many fun things to share…so little time!

I debated over what tremendous tip to post the day before Thanksgiving. As I mulled it over I kept hearing the voice of a dear friend telling me,  “Cindy, I did what your mother told me to do for our holiday meal and it was the most stress free day I’ve ever had!” The trick?

A recipe card.

Glamorous I know, but hear me out. If you can squeeze 10-15 minutes out of the crazies that precede hosting a large dinner do this…


{This of course is already a great thing because you probably haven’t sat for the last three days.}

Grab a pencil and recipe card (or other piece of paper). Now, imagine sitting down to your Turkey dinner, grace has been said and delicious smells are wafting from the kitchen. But as your memory reel rolls backwards can you identify any stress inducers from your morning?  You know I love to talk about thinking forward but for just a moment let’s——–

Think Backwards.

Here’s what I mean. I sit down and imagine everything that tends to go wrong, make me crabby, or cause my upper lip to sweat the morning/moments prior to serving the holiday meal. I can usually think of a way to prevent the stress if I take the time to think through it. If Thanksgiving is at my house it looks something like this:

#10- Gather for Grace and EAT!

#9- Set out beverages. Include ice if needed.

#8- Remove chilled items from the fridge. Lay out on the table/counter/buffet (relish tray, jello salad, deviled eggs).

#7- Remove oven items. Place on table/counter/buffet (Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Yams, Gravy.)

Check on other oven items. If need be, turn the oven down to keep items warm while other last minute details are attended to. (Don’t forget to check the microwave. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten a side dish in the microwave!)

#6- 11:15 Carve Turkey/Make Gravy. Place in oven. (A favored DoAhead in our home is to carve the Turkey and make the gravy in advance. However, a caveat is that more oven space is required. If you do not have a double oven or the option of putting the carved meat in an electronic roaster you can carve just prior to the meal.)

#5- 11:00 AM Green Beans. Place in oven.

#4- 10:30 AM DoAhead Mashed Potatoes & Yowsa Yams.  Place in the oven

Prepare desert area-lay out pies (Check out this link for an amaaaazing pie crust recipe.) bars, and cookies.

Get the coffee machine ready to go. (Cream and sugar are on hand.)

Set the table. (If schedule and space allow another great DoAhead is to set the table the evening or day.)

Keep an eye on the Turkey

#3. Time to start side dishes. Yowsa Yams and Green Beans are top on the list for our tribe. I prep the dishes and have them oven ready.

Check the Turkey (baste as needed).

If you’re not a morning person and haven’t dressed yet, this is the time to buzz through the shower and get out of the jam-a-lams (You can bet your booty I’m prepping Turkey in my PJ’s.)

#2- 7 AM Stuff Turkey. Place in the oven according to cooking directions.

Mix Stuffing (A DoAhead tip is to have as many of these ingredients prepared and set out the night before.)

Drink one to two cups of coffee so the dog isn’t mistaken for the Turkey.

#1- 6 AM. Blindly Grope For Coffee. (Give thanks to God if the coffee maker has a timer.)

**** Your list does not need to be this wordy (mine never is).

I can fit my list on a recipe card. It lists what items go in the oven at specific times with a few notes in between.  If you think better moving forward, by all means do so. Start by thinking through the list of things you need to prep and get in the oven from the time you get up.

This kind of pre-planning doesn’t take more than 15 minutes and it removes a tremendous amount of stress from your preparations. That’s it sweet DoAheads, I hope you and yours have a BEEEEAUTIFUL Holiday Dinner. I’ll be taking Friday off to enjoy the Fam but I can’t wait to share a DoAhead Devo with you on Monday (and announce the Give-Away winner!)

Blessings and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Your DoAhead Friend,

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