I know what you’re thinking. Who the F is this girl to be dishing out any advice about how to host at all, let alone Thanksgiving. You aren’t totally wrong. I would think that too if I were you. You probably have yet to become privy to the fact that I love Thanksgiving. I love it so intensely and most definitely in a way that totally crossed weird years ago.
I love hosting it. It’s one of the only aspects in my life that I want to exert complete control over. The reason I give to people for hosting, I love bringing families together. The real reason: no house that we visited ever had all the food that I wanted to eat on Thanksgiving. I look forward to this food all year. As my best friend Selena says, “The heart wants what it wants.”
Ok, it’s a combination of both of these things. I love being around family, and I love good food. Thanksgiving gives me both of these things. We are all extremely blessed, and at minimum we should take a day to really express that to each other.
I was terrified the first time I was going to make a turkey. Don’t let the turkey intimidate you. They are just big chickens! Give them a little love and cook them the right amount of time and you will appear to be a master chef to your guests. Also, the way the markets sell them now, all of the “giblets” and other things are super easy to take out and very obvious. Trust me- you will be able to do it.
I’ve made many mistakes over my last 8 years of hosting my own Thanksgiving. Picked up some lessons and think that at least one of you will find at least one thing useful here. So here it is, my how to host Thanksgiving crash course.
The Turkey- Go Buy One!
Today is the Friday before our current Thanksgiving (2018). Depending on the size of your turkey, you may need to go buy it. In a really hard way- I learned turkeys need more than one day to thaw (correctly). Most stores are selling you a frozen turkey, and you need to let it thaw out in your fridge (on a cookie sheet or pan to avoid juice spilling). You need a full 24 hour of thaw time for each 4 lbs of turkey. I typically do at least a pound a person minimum and always round up about 2-3 lbs- having leftovers is the priority people! If you didn’t make a full on Thanksgiving sandwich the next day- you failed the mission.
Now for all of you who like to live on the edge (or don’t have a ton of fridge space like most of us)- there is a way to thaw it quicker. I’ve definitely done it this way multiple times, and always say a little prayer of thanks for sending us Martha Stewart. Click HERE to have Martha’s people walk you through this.
My Favorite Turkey Recipe
It can come from the one and only, Ina Garten. Not to change the subject, but do you think Ina and Martha are friends? I like to imagine them in Ina’s cottage having BLT sandwiches and Chardonnay swapping recipes…… ok sorry I’m back.
Click HERE for this recipe, it is AMAZING! It requires no extra prep time. You can literally take your turkey out, clean it, remove all the stuff, pat dry and add these ingredients and the turkey comes out delicious.
People swear by brining the turkey, sounds cool and it really does help keep the turkey juicy- but it’s not necessary at all. If you have time and like it- great, but don’t stress it.
When cooking the turkey, I like to baste it every hour. Set a timer on your phone or with Alexa. But don’t baste it right before you take it out, you need to let the skin crisp a bit.
Most Important Tip: Let the turkey REST! I once saw Chef Michael Symon (yes, I’m Chef obsessed and I groupie out on them when I meet them). Either way he gave an entire lecture on this, on The Chew (I’m rockstar cool)- let it rest covered under foil for at least 40 minutes before carving.
If you are Stuffing the Turkey Read This
The first year- I mastered my turkey. Now the second year I wanted to get fancy and make stuffing to put into my turkey. How cool am I? (if you want to unfollow me now I understand).
Important tip- whatever stuffing you are going to put into your turkey. Do not stuff the turkey with anything warm. If you put hot/warm things into your turkey’s cavity it could make everyone sick. Let it cool down, ideally make it the day before and have it completely cold before stuffing it.
Let’s Talk Sides
What constitutes a good side for Thanksgiving is very debatable. I leave it to you to pick and choose what works for your family and friends.
This year I am hosing 10 adults and 5 kids going with my favorite Mac n Cheese Recipe, Sweet Potato Casserole, Roasted Corn, Brussel Sprouts and Arroz y Frijoles (because my Abuelo demands it).
Table Top and Serveware
As much as I love cooking and getting all the food ready for Thanksgiving. I always struggle a little on setting the table. I’ve gotten much better, and I completely credit my sister-in-law as my guiding light. She is constantly showing me how to adult. While I do not come close to her flawless tabletop abilities, I have found a few tricks to make a nice table with minimal effort.
For starters the flowers. A few different things you can do
- Beautiful and Cheap: Grabbing a few beautiful flowers at the market and arranging them at home is always your cheapest bet, and will always add a little special touch.
- Gorgeous and A little more $: I’m actually not the best flower sorter. I mean, I can get the job done, but it’s aight. For events like this I typically turn to House of Lilac. She actually gives great Thanksgiving Decor Tips HERE. I will have a few of her bud vases or small arrangements delivered and put them on the table, and right off the bat my table looks much more polished. She is also making some pretty outrageous Garlands for anyone wanting to really take it up a 1000 notches.
Let’s Talk Serveware
Having collected a few solid pieces of Serveware really makes everything look more put together. I love to pick up pieces at either CB2 or Target both have a good range of items that compliment each other, and aren’t too expensive.
YOU MUST Delegate
You’re taking on a lot hosting Thanksgiving! The people coming know that and want to help you. Let your people help you. Let them bring an appetizer, a side, desert, and wine.
MOST IMPORTANT TIP: If you’re assigning wine- make sure you assign it to someone who understands the assignment and not the one who will bring the cheap gross shit that no one wants to drink.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!! Hope your family only had a little drama- you know the kind to keep you entertained but not earth shattering.