Thanksgiving Dinner Dos and Don’ts
Turkey Day is upon us once again! It’s time to gather with family and friends to share a delicious meal, and to reflect on all the things we’re thankful for in 2022. For some, it’ll be the first time everyone will be together again post-pandemic, which makes this year extra special. But whether you’re hosting or attending as a guest, there are a few things you should know, a few Thanksgiving dinner dos and don’ts that will make sure everyone has the best experience.
From cooking tips to etiquette, here are my top Thanksgiving dinner dos and don’ts.
DO allow plenty of time to thaw the turkey! This is one of those classic sitcom-style mistakes that inexperienced Thanksgiving hosts make. If you bought a frozen turkey, know that it will need significant time to thaw in a refrigerator. Allow 24 hours per 4-5 pounds as a guide. Even if the turkey is a little under-thawed, it will lead to dry meat. Set a reminder a few days before Thanksgiving to ensure you don’t forget.
DON’T leave grocery shopping to the last minute. Remember that Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of the year for grocery stores. More importantly, everyone is buying the same items! Skip the crowds and shop ahead of time.
DO accept offers of help. Hosting Thanksgiving is a lot of work but you don’t have to do it alone! It’s perfectly acceptable to ask guests to bring a dish, drinks, or a dessert. And don’t be shy about accepting offers of help in the kitchen. It can be a lot of fun working together and making memories.
DON’T spend all your time in the kitchen. Thanksgiving is a holiday to spend with those you love. So it’s important that you plan ahead to ensure you don’t spend all day cooking. There are lots of dishes you can prep in advance. For example, mashed potatoes can be frozen and pies, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and dinner roll dough can all be made a day or two before.
DO choose a traditional, seasonal menu. Celebrate autumn’s harvest with your menu, making the most of fresh, seasonal ingredients. In general, it’s also best to keep it traditional. After all, guests will be expecting the classic crowd-pleasers!
DON’T forget to ask about your guests’ dietary needs. It’s important to know if anyone who will be at your table has any allergies or intolerances, or if they’re vegetarian or vegan. That doesn’t mean you have to build the whole menu around them, but it does mean that you’ll be able to cater to their needs and ensure they enjoy the meal along with everyone else.
DO invite new people. If you know of someone who doesn’t have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving, be sure to include them in your family celebration. ‘Tis the season, after all!
DON’T arrive empty-handed as a guest. If you’re invited to a Thanksgiving meal, be sure to bring a hostess gift. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, Wine, flowers, or chocolates are perfectly acceptable, but why not get a bit more creative? Put some thought into making it special by finding out about your host’s interests and passions.
DO bring the dish you said you would. If your host asks you to bring something to the Thanksgiving meal, don’t change course at the last moment. If you say you’ll make a spinach salad, don’t show up with green bean casserole. This allows your host to plan ahead and avoid duplication of dishes.
DON’T avoid the cleanup. Don’t be the guest who falls asleep in front of the TV while your host cleans up after the meal. The whole process is much easier if everyone helps and the sooner it’s done, the sooner everyone can get back to enjoying their day. However, if your host is adamant about refusing help, respect their wishes.
The most important Thanksgiving dinner dos and don’ts of all are simple: DO remember the reason you’re gathered together and DON’T let it become a stressful experience.