Thanksgiving is coming; refrain from freaking out
November 21st, 2011
10:30 AM ET
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We're sharing our time-tested Thanksgiving hosting tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities, hosts and home cooks we love. Our goal – sending you into Thanksgiving with a confident smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on the other side with your sanity intact.

It might seem like a world away but sooner than you think, you're likely going to sitting down to a dinner with loved ones (and a stranger or two), and feeling exceptionally lucky to be doing so.

Buying | Cooking | Drinking | Hosting | Traveling

Gratitude is the watchword, and it's incredibly easy to lose sight of that while you're bogged down in the details of serving a dinner that packs a certain amount of expectation. So how about giving yourself a break?

This doesn't mean that you're not making your best effort to ensure that your guests have a great time, or that the dish you're bringing isn't as painstakingly made as it possibly could be. We're just saying that the warmth and welcome with which it's served will linger even longer than the leftovers.

Consider printing out these mantras and cross-stitching them on throw pillows or possibly taking them to the tattoo parlor:

1. Don't be a martyr, be a host.
2. You can never, ever have too much ice.
3. If they're your guests, they're very likely rooting for you.
4. Accepting offers of Thanksgiving help is a sign of sanity & inclusion not weakness.
5. There is no such thing as too much stock or too many containers for leftovers.

And a word to the wise - the sooner you get a beverage or appetizer into your guests' hands, or assign them the task of doing so, the more quickly they'll ease into the swing of things.

Un-buckle up, follow our ongoing Thanksgiving advice, and get set to have an absolutely delicious day.

If all else fails, repeat after us: "It's just a meal. It's just a meal. It's just a meal..."

Buying and Planning

Buy right and don't waste food

The dishes America likes best

Thanksgiving dinner for 8 for $70

iReport - Thanksgiving for under $30

Stocking up for the big day

Prep for the day and keep it all safe and clean

Avoid these dreaded dishes

5 Reasons to buy a heritage bird

What if it's just Thanksgiving for two?


Get your prep work out of the way

– – Turkey

Defrost that bird!

Safe time and temperature for turkey

Philippe Cousteau's perfect turkey and gravy (and an ethical dilemma)

Turkey tips you wish you'd known sooner

5 Turkey don'ts

Thaw that bird!

Out of time? Spatchcock that turkey!

Stress-free brining

Deep-fried indoor turkey – for science

– – Appetizers and sides

Crowd-pleasing (and easy!) appetizers

Stuffpuppies. Stuffpuppies! STUFFPUPPIES! (The only side you'll need to serve)

Brilliant Brussels sprouts

Mastering mac 'n' cheese for Thanksgiving

Make cornbread dressing like a southern grandmother

Gravy lessons from a master

Quick, simple vegetable sides

Don't fear the vegan - feed them

Everything you need to know about squash

Squash the winter doldrums

Slim down your dishes

A 5 ingredient Thanksgiving fix from a Food Network star

Tired of turkey? Make a bacon pig

Re-imagine traditional Thanksgiving dishes

Lechon: a Filipino family feast

Take care of your gluten-free guests

How to cook a country ham

Is it stuffing or dressing, and what ingredients does it need?

Pumpkin beyond the pie

– – Desserts

Master the chess pie

Make perfect pie

Best pies across the country

– – Leftovers

5 Tips for leftovers

Aaaaand even more leftovers

Can you get your leftovers through the airport?

Thanksgiving goes to the dogs (but is that OK?)


Hard cider to serve with the big dinner

Bubbles, bubbles solve your Thanksgiving troubles

Rosé for Turkey Day

Wine advice from our favorite bar

Bargain wines for Thanksgiving dishes

Brilliant cold weather beverages

Pitcher drinks and Prosecco are a host's best friends

The best wines for casseroles

When this is all over, you're going to want a drink - dessert wines


Dealing with difficult guests, vegetarians and surprise drop-ins - and not running out of food

Must 'Friendsgiving' be a thing?

Confessions of a cooking alpha

Round up the orphans and celebrate their traditions

When a picky eater comes to your Thanksgiving table

Embrace the chaos (and make excellent dairy-free mashed potatoes)

Remain calm in the face of Thanksgiving madness

How do you deal with family drama?

Last-second anti-freakout tips

Make your guests feel right at home

My first Thanksgiving with white people

el Dia de Las Gracias – Thanksgiving with a Latin twist

What to serve if Wolf Blitzer shows up

Where to eat if you're in Vegas

Thanksgiving stuck at your desk

How to get a drunk guest out of your home (safely)

It's not Thanksgiving without...leftovers and strays


The TSA won't swipe your pie – but will they take the cake?

Andrew Zimmern's top airport dining

Your must-eat places while you're at home for the holidays

Still stressing? Leave your question in the comments below and we'll do our best to get you back on track.

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Filed under: Holiday • Holidays • Recipes • T Minus • Thanksgiving • Thanksgiving

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Abdulkarim

    I was able to get the things I watned from Walmart, but I didn\'t want the larger ticket items. I got 2 coats for the boys, jeans and pullover for Russ, PJ\'s, and a mixer! It was a good trip though! I look forward to seeing your pictures!

    December 23, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  2. W.

    I loathe this holiday as I do all others. I am thankful for very little that is thrust upon me. I am broken physically and bound to a painful and sequestered life. I am alone and cannot afford the comforts of an extravagant meal nor the support of a family. I have never celebrated any holiday and plan not to. Gorging one's self in opulence and oafishness is obscene and abhorrent to so many of us who have so little. My closest and most reliable companion in life remains pain and discomfort. I shall dine on Ramen soup in silence.

    November 22, 2012 at 5:52 am |


    November 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  4. juanita

    I bought asparagus yesterday. I trimmed the ends, put them in a pitcher with an inch of water, and left them in an unheated porch (about 55 degrees). Today there is a bad smell coming from the tops of the asparagus. Will they taste okay when I cook them tomorrow?

    November 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm |


    November 22, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  6. Paul

    If you are planning a Thanksgiving feast watch for the Alec Baldwin narrated video. It's very informative!

    November 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Peanut M&M


      November 22, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  7. kit8

    Why do you need ice? It is likely freezing cold in most parts of the US? Put the drinks outside and save energy, cash and the environment.

    November 21, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Easy Peasy

      BAHAHAHA kit8, I hear you but I am a fan of ice created not ice from nature!

      November 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  8. kit8

    Why do you need ice it is likely freezing cold in most parts of the US? Put the drinks outside, save cash, energy and the environment?

    November 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  9. yaddyaddyYWN

    If LZ Granderson wrote this article he'd be bashing how white people make their food.

    November 21, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  10. ComeOnMan9

    Remember that this is your holiday too and not to overload yourself and play the martyr, it makes the gravy curdle.

    November 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  11. Grothnar, Troll King

    Mmmmmm, cranberries. NOM NOM NOM NOM NOMNOMNOM.

    November 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  12. GvilleT

    Ditch the jiggle wiggly can moulded cranberry stuff. Make homeade cranberry sauce. It's soooo much better. The difference is like nigh/day. My cranberry sauce calls for fresh cranberries (1 pkg.), sugar (1 cup), juice and zest from an orange, ginger (1 tsp.) and nuts ( I roast my nuts). Once it all starts to boil, you continue to cook it for about 5 min. They'll start splitting and popping. Then I smush them up against the side of the pot with my wooden spoon. Add the nuts, pour into a pretty dish and refridgerate. This takes me about 10-15 min. total to make and it's something I make the night before. It looks like I went all out, tastes so good and it was nothing at all. If you don't like orange or ginger, there are other recipes I'msure that just call for sugar, a little water and nuts.

    November 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  13. Chuck

    Always get twice as much ice as you think you'll need.

    November 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  14. T3chsupport

    There are few things more awkward and uncomfortable than being a guest at someone's house, and being delegated to sit and wait while people slave over dinner/drink/appetizer preparations. If someone offers to help, give them something to do! Not everyone just wants to sit and watch football.

    November 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm |

    You must be my long lost twin sister. Same at my house.

    November 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  16. Ivan G

    Some additional Thanksgiving "Blond" Tips –

    November 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  17. TODAY

    I hope that everyone will have something to feast on this Thanksgiving and noone will be hungry

    November 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  18. Hank

    Here are a couple good ideas to help those in need during the holidays, at no extra cost to you!

    November 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
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