Tips for surviving the Thanksgiving holiday…

… Thanksgiving can be stressful; dealing with the family and that one crazy uncle compiled with all the endless cooking. Something always get burnt or catches fire and the drunk, true to form, drinks too much and gets belligerent. It’s even more stressful if you are a first timer undertaking the monumental task of preparing the whole meal.

Whatever the circumstances may be, please let me share with you my sage wisdom on dealing with Thanksgiving. This is carefully gleaned advice from years of mistakes, mishaps, and martini addled memories.


You are going to be eating like it’s your last meal ever with an endless buffet of variety. Your pants will not hold up under the strain. Trust me. Invest in a good pair of elastic waist stretchy pants. You can go casual in the roomy jumper version of a Snuggie or, for the more fancy fashionable types, the sweatpants that look like jeans. Another alternative is to keep a set of pant waist extenders in your purse.

Another no-no is high heels. If you plan on drinking to cope with the in-laws wearing a pair of comfortable flats is a must. Don’t ruin a perfectly good meal with a twisted ankle. Or worse, spill your drink as you go clumsily falling down a flight of stairs.

Food Preparation

If you can, avoid at all costs cooking. Let someone else do it. Offer instead to bring the wine and adult beverages. A good guest doesn’t forget the mixers.

Here’s a bit of advice I wish I had one year; it takes about a half an hour per pound to defrost your turkey. That means a 12 pound bird will take about 6 hours to defrost. Take it out of the freezer now and put it in the refrigerator. And no, hell no, just because you are using a turkey fryer this year doesn’t mean you get to skip this step. If you do, the government will arrest you as a terrorist!

Of course, if push comes to shove there’s still time to put your Honey Baked Ham on lay-away.

You’ll thank me later.

PS- I also welcome your advice and sanity saving tips in the comments.

PPS- Don’t leave your ashtray near the propane turkey fryer. The emergency room will be crowded enough without your added presence. Again, trust me on this one.

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  • Kimberly_whelan

    Muchas Gracias!

  • Guest

    I don’t know why people get so uptight. :-/ Relax, enjoy. I love to cook, so the cooking is not an issue. I love company, so I’m fine with people bringing guests who have nowhere else to go. We always end up with strangers, and maybe that makes everyone else behave better. I dunno. Sure, there are people in everyone’s family who you wouldn’t hang out with on a regular basis, but surely everyone can just let their stuff go for ONE day and enjoy the moment, no?

    Food Network is your friend, and I highly recommend Ina Garten’s (Barefoot Contessa) recipes. Usually simple, easy and always delish.

    Do not attempt the deep-fried turkey thing unless you really know what you’re doing and you have a very large backyard so you can keep the thing away from the house and garage. And kids. And dogs. Frankly, I’ve had deep-fried turkey, done correctly, and it’s not *that* much better than a well roasted turkey. To me, the biggest difference in flavor has more to do with the kind of turkey you purchase rather than how you cook it. Fresh, free range, organic turkey really does have better flavor than the usual supermarket, fat-injected frozen bird. It’s pricier, but worth it, IMO.

    It’s okay to let things go. Just because Great Grandma Nora made potato stuffing doesn’t mean you have to continue the tradition. Don’t make yourself crazy duplicating every old recipe that ever came down your family pike. It’s okay to admit that some of them were just awful and should have gone to the grave along with Aunt So-and-so (Great Aunt Mae and her tomato aspic, in my case…and I made sure it did…she who hosts the holiday controls the menu…).

    At the end of the day, no one remembers the small kitchen disasters, and the big ones make awesome stories for years to come.

    Unless you love baking pies, don’t bother. There are so many good baked products available even at your chain supermarket, it’s a huge why-bother. Huge time-suck. Even better than purchasing them, delegate — this is an easy thing for someone to bring. Just make sure you have good ice cream and/or fresh schlag on hand.

    And y’all can eat like heifers ’cause you got up at the crack of dawn and ran that Turkey Trot, right…right…?

  • Paige Deaner

    I’m making my first ever Thanksgiving meal, but it’s just for 3 of us, and we’re doing Cornish hens. So that shouldn’t be too bad. I doubt I will ever make a ginormous Thanksgiving dinner, even though I love to cook. Too stressful. Maybe I’ll just start making Thanksgiving jambalaya– easy to throw together, feeds a ton of people!!

  • Manny

    We go to my mother’s for Thanksgiving. So I won’t be cooking. But you got me wondering if my nieces consider me that crazy uncle. 😉

    • Katrina Fernandez

      I have it on the strictest of confidence that they do. 😉

  • GeekLady

    Thanksgiving would be so much easier at my inlaws if we could drink. I don’t know what kind of Hispanic Catholic family I married into, but there isn’t a drop of booze to be found the whole vacation. There isn’t even the opportunity for ‘special coffee’. It just makes the whole affair even more stressful.

  • Ben David

    uhhh…. we Orthodox Jews do a meal like this every week – it’s called Sabbath.

    And we’re not allowed to cook or even light a fire – so everything must be done ahead.

    Since I became religious, I’m amazed by how many Americans freak out at having to make one large meal from scratch.

    Try the “Sabbath approach” – make dishes that can be done ahead. I would even consider braising the turkey in a Dutch oven instead of roasting it – because roasting must be perfectly timed, and even then it’s usually uneven and part overcooked.

  • Right this very moment I was listening to a Michael Savage youtube, and yes he was discussing the Terrorist Turkeys.

    I was in Mexico for Thanksgiving. No turkey for me. I had a lovely vegatable Enchilada and found out that the First Thanksgiving on Mexican Soil was on Cozuemel Island on May 3 1518.

    Yes, our family escaped extended family issues by taking a trip to Mexico. It wouldn’t work if you’re Mexican.