Thanksgiving Dinner For Beginners


My husband and I have eaten 24 Thanksgiving dinners together as husband and wife.

In the beginning of our marriage we did a fair bit of eating Thanksgiving dinner at parents’ houses and bringing along a pie or some rolls.

As the years rolled on, though, I nervously began to plan and execute Thanksgiving dinners at my own home.  I made my share of blunders and oversights, and I would like to share with you some things I have learned that I believe are essential in planning and serving Thanksgiving dinner.

  • If the turkey is frozen, take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge a full week before the big day.  I am not kidding! Those things take forever to defrost and you will be sorry on the morning of Thanksgiving if you do not heed this advice.  All your hungry guests will be sorry too, because they will be eating tuna fish sandwiches while the frozen turkey stubbornly refuses to finish roasting in a timely manner.
  • The night before Thanksgiving dinner, brine the turkey. That means putting it in an ice chest with 2 cups salt, 1 cup brown sugar and just covered with water and plenty of ice.  This will ensure the bird is flavorful and juicy!
  • Plan out your menu and prepare as much as possible ahead of time.  The day of the event, you’ll want to be focused on making sure the turkey is done, but not overcooked, (internal temp. reaches 161) and having fresh, hot rolls.
  • Use the nice dishes! This is the day they have been sitting in the cabinet, rubbing their little plate-y hands together waiting for!
  • Make sure to have plenty of ice. Nothing stikes a panic like forgetting you used every bit of the ice in the ice maker last night to brine the turkey, and now having nothing to put in the glasses for the iced tea.
  • Make sure the dishwasher is empty so you will have a quick(er) cleanup after dinner.
  • Enjoy the day! It likely won’t be perfect. Few days are. Don’t dwell on what went awry, but on being thankful for your blessings.
  • See one of my most popular posts, “The Most Delicious Turkey Ever” for my secret to moist, delicious turkey every time.

  • Share This:
  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this Post
  • Share on Twitter

Comments

  1. Oh, you are SO right about putting that bird to thaw a week ahead of time!

    Listen to this woman!!!! :-)

  2. Kimarie @ Cardamom's Pod says:

    Huh – that was weird – pressed the wrong button!

    As I was saying – take heed!!

  3. Super tips! Thank you so much for sharing them. :)

  4. I would not even know where to start… thanks for sharing. =0)

  5. My husband loves brine-ing turkey, it is the best!!

  6. I don't know how many times my Mom and Dad have had the turkey thawing in the bathtub at the last minute! LOL!

  7. Great tips Connie! Tonight I made chicken soup and the combination of the smells in preparation reminded me of Thanksgiving. Then I started thinking, I need to plan this out ahead of time so I don't get overwhelmed. I did your turkey recipe the year before last and LOVED it! I can't wait to use it again. :)

  8. Ann Marie says:

    I just finished reading your directions for roasting a turkey — wow!!! This will be my first time cooking thanksgiving so I'm thrilled to have this advice!! :)

  9. ...they call me mommy... says:

    Great tips! Thanks! :)

  10. Jennifer@sissyandsassy says:

    Great tips! They'll come in handy…though I wish I could go back in time and apply them for the last 6 years!

  11. We are brine believers here as well. Been doing it for several years and never had a turkey fail!

  12. bridget {bake at 350} says:

    Great tips! Thank you!

  13. Weird Unsocialized Mom says:

    You know, I almost didn't make the long trek over here from Google Reader (<–note the sarcasm from our previous discussions about full vs. partial feeds) to read this post since we eat Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws, then, at my mom's.

    Yes. You read that right. Two Thanksgiving dinners every year.

    However, it occurred to me that I won't *always* be eating dinner at those two places. Someday, I'm sure, my kids and their families will be coming to MY house.

    I have never cooked a turkey in my entire life. Ever. I think I should start baking one a year. Just for practice.

    Yeah, sadly, I'm being serious.

  14. I have a tip for cooking a turkey for a small gathering (so obviously this wouldn't work for Connie!). Two words: crock pot. A six to eight pound turkey breast fits in my crock pot. No need to brine it, just season as desired and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours. Perfect every time!!

  15. Rona's Home Page says:

    I've never made Thanksgiving dinner in the 13 years of marriage. So, when I mentioned to our teen that I might be making it this year he looked at me weird.
    I know if I decided to pursue this I'm going to need all the help I can get!

  16. Cheryl@SomewhatCrunchy says:

    Great tips! I have never brined my turkey, I will have to try that!! I'm off to check out your best turkey ever recipe. That's funny because on my WFMW I mentioned that next week I'm going to share my "Best Split Pea Soup EVER" recipe :)

  17. Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama says:

    Thanks for the brining tip- I didn't know anything about that!

  18. I don't like turkey much. I'll eat it and everything but if I'm not being forced to I won't touch it.

  19. I do have a question: Will there be any turkey juices left in the pan to make the gravy?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] And if you are preparing your first Thanksgiving dinner, be sure to read my Thanksgiving Dinner For Beginners. [...]

  2. [...] by Smockity Frocks on November 22, 2011 WELCOME to Smockity Frocks, where you can find homeschooling tips, kid-friendly crafts, large family recipes, parenting tips and MORE. Did you know you can subscribe for FREE to get my daily updates in your inbox? Then you'll be sure not to miss a thing! And don't forget to "like" my Facebook fan page where I post interesting links and chat daily with my 6000+ fans. See you there!If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year for the first time, you’ll want to check out these tips on Thanksgiving dinner for beginners. [...]

  3. [...] in case you need it, here is my “Thanksgiving Dinner for Beginners” post, which includes tips I have learned from my 27 Thanksgiving as Mrs. Hughes, including [...]

Leave a Comment

*