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17 Top Thanksgiving Dinner Tips From A Seasoned Homemaker

Top tips from a seasoned homemaker on how to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family and avoid a turkey day disaster.

cooking thanksgiving dinner first time

My First Thanksgiving Dinner Was A Disaster

If you want to avoid the most common Thanksgiving Dinner disaster moments follow along as we outline the top tips for making a great Holiday meal this season.

It no secret that making a Thanksgiving Dinner for the whole family can be daunting.

There is so much food to make and the pressure to make a perfect holiday meal can be overwhelming, but with a little planning a simple meal prep you can make a great Thanksgiving Dinner.

how to host thanksgiving dinner for the first time

How are you suppose to cook so much food with only one oven?

If this is your first time making Thanksgiving Dinner and you want to avoid the most common mistakes like trying to cook everything all at once.

Follow along as we outline the most important tips for avoiding a turkey day disaster when cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time.

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Thanksgiving Dinner Tips The First Time Hosting

#1 Start Ahead Of Time

Make sure to plan ahead of time and have your table setting plus Holiday décor set out at least the day before.

You can add some fresh candles and a beautiful Fall bouquet on a simple table runner to give your home a cozy Thanksgiving feel that your guest will enjoy.

#2 Make A List

Write out what your Thanksgiving menu is going to be along with all the ingredients and how long sides take to cook.

During this time write out a time block for what will be cooked and when.

The turkey takes up the most room so you need to plan for that to be in the oven for most of the day.

Most sides can be made ahead of time then simply reheated do this to avoid cramming too much into one oven.

#3 Make Side Dishes Ahead of Time

Again get a head start by meal prepping your desserts, chopping vegetables, making sides, and hard boiling eggs ahead of time so they are ready to go the day of your gathering.

#4 Clean Your Refrigerator

With so much food being prepared your going to need space to store everything.

Make life easy by cleaning out your refrigerator the week before to have plenty of space for storing desserts and side items that need to be kept cool.

#5 Keep It Simple

Simple is best when it comes to Thanksgiving.

A turkey with a couple of side dishes is all you need to make a great meal.

Make a few good dishes great rather than a whole spread of mediocre food.

#6 Cook What You Know

If your hosting Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time stick to what you know.

This is not the time to experiment with new dishes keep it simple and do what you know how to do best.

#7 Ask Others To Pitch In

Don't take on the struggle of making everything all by yourself.

Part of the joy of Thanksgiving is coming together as a family.

Delegate how others can help you maybe by bringing a side or a dessert.

#8 Defrost The Turkey Ahead of Time

Don't make the mistake of forgetting to defrost the turkey.

It can take a couple of days to defrost a large turkey plus you want it to marinade for at least 12-24 hours so make sure its defrosting in the refrigerator at least 4 days before cooking.

#9 Take The Neck, Gizzards, and Liver Out

If this is your first time cooking a turkey you may be surprised to find out their is a special little package waiting for you inside.

Inside you will find the neck, gizzards, and liver.

Using the neck for a gravy base is a great way to add even more flavor to your dish.

#10 Season Your Turkey Enough

A fatal flaw of cooking a turkey is under seasoning.

A turkey is a large piece of protein and it requires a good amount of seasoning to produce a tasty dish.

A great seasoning includes salt, pepper, garlic, fresh thyme, oregano, onion powder, paprika, and don't forget the sage.

Its all about the sage.

#11 Butter Your Turkey and Broil

Place sliced raw onion and cubed butter under the skin of your turkey.

Also baste the outside of the turkey in a melted butter herb mixture to get a juicy succulent dish everyone will love.

About 15 minutes before cook time is up uncover your turkey and allow it to broil until skin is crispy.

Make sure to include this step into your overall cook time.

#12 Always Use Foil Pans

Save yourself the clean up when hosting a big Thanksgiving meal and get foil pans for making dishes plus disposable plates and utensils to make clean up a breeze.

#13 Place A Baking Sheet Under Your Turkey Pan

This is vital because nothing is worse than dropping the turkey.

Make sure to place your turkey pan on a sturdy baking sheet so you can easily move the turkey in and out of the oven without the risk of dropping it or spilling the juices.

#14 Let The Turkey Rest

Just like with any great piece of meat you want to allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

This allows all the juices to absorb into the meat giving you that perfect juicy turkey side because let's face it nothing is worse than dry bland turkey especially on Thanksgiving.

#15 Save The Turkey Drippings For Gravy

Make your own gravy this year from the turkey drippings.

To make your own gravy simply combine 1/4 cup of minced onions with 3 tablespoons of flour and brown until golden then slowly add in turkey drippings and whisk until smooth.

Sprinkle in some additional seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic, and sage to make a homemade gravy to spoon over your entire Thanksgiving plate.

#16 Clean As You Go

Thanksgiving dinner is a big feast and has a several components to it so make sure to clean as you go to avoid a kitchen disaster when guests are on the way.

#17 Have To Go Containers

Make taking home left overs easy by thinking about your guests ahead of time and provide them with their own to go containers.

Your guest will love being able to take home left overs without the hassle of what to put it in.

how to cook thanksgiving dinner with only one oven small kitchen

First Time Cooking Thanksgiving For The Whole Family

Cooking Thanksgiving for the first time is exciting and a bit overwhelming, but with these tips you should be able to make a meal your whole family will enjoy.

The key to making the perfect Thanksgiving meal is to preplan and get a head start so you can also enjoy the day relaxing with your family not hassling in the kitchen.


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