Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner can be daunting. This year is the 10th in a row that I'll be hosting dinner for 15-20 people. When I first started hosting, before I had kids, I had all the time in the world to plan, prep, and execute the perfect Thanksgiving. Now that I have twins I need all the help I can get saving time making my Thanksgiving dinner. I've picked up some Thanksgiving dinner hacks over the years and I want to let you in on all my secrets!
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1. Prepare Dishes Ahead of Time. Save time on Thanksgiving Day by making as many dishes ahead of time as you can. Cranberry sauce is an easy one - you can make it a few days before Turkey Day (I love this Cranberry-Apple Relish from Cooking Light). Or try one of these 8 Make Ahead Thanksgiving Menu Items from Super Mommy Club.
2. Use your Slow Cooker. This seems completely counterintuitive - slow cooking to save time? But using your crock pot for Thanksgiving frees up valuable space in your oven and allows you to space out your cooking more efficiently. You can make a LOT in your slow cooker - check out this guide to a Slow Cooker Thanksgiving from Umbrella Tree Cafe.
3. Go Potluck. Save time by spreading the work around. This has been my family's tradition for as long as I can remember and it really makes Thanksgiving easy! I like to assign categories (vegetable, stuffing, appetizer) to my guests who will be bringing food and let them be creative and surprise me with their wonderful creations! Check out these awesome thermal food carriers perfect for Thanksgiving potlucks.
4. Buy It, Don't Bake It. Every dish doesn't need to be homemade on Thanksgiving. Save some time on things that are easy to buy - gourmet pies, breads, and rolls are perfect store bought sides.
5. Order a Fresh Turkey. We've all heard stories of cooks who woke up Thanksgiving morning to a turkey that was still frozen solid. Frozen turkeys take FOREVER to thaw - save time (and in my opinion get a better taste) by pre-ordering a fresh turkey.
6. Hosting a Crowd? Cook 2 Small Turkeys. I had a huge guest list one year and this trick saved the day. Two small turkeys cook faster and stay juicier than one large bird. Here's some great tips on how to cook two turkeys for Thanksgiving.
7. Cook In What You'll Serve In. Save time transferring food into serving bowls (and save tons of time washing dishes later) by investing in some good bakeware that can go from oven to table to refrigerator for leftovers (and midnight snacks). I love this Pyrex set.
8. Set Up a Drink Station. Save time serving and prepping drinks by setting up a drink station. This adorable football drink station from See Vanessa Craft can easily be modified with some Thanksgiving decorations. I also love these glass beverage dispensers for self serve tea, water, or lemonade.
9. Go Disposable. I love using my good china on Thanksgiving, but the year that I had two infants I went disposable and it was pretty awesome. You will save loads of time on washing dishes by using disposable plates. Worried about the environment? Try these pretty 100% compostable plates instead of plastic.
10. Plan Ahead. My #1 tip for saving time on Thanksgiving is planning ahead. Make lists, assign out tasks, and be sure your shopping is done early. Proper planning will save you time on the big day because every thing will run smoothly and efficiently with much less stress.
Want some fabulous Thanksgiving recipes, activities, and crafts? Check out these ideas:
Top 10 Turkey Crafts for Thanksgiving from Craftulate
Top 10 Simple to Make Harvest Crafts from Peakle Pie
Top 10 Things to do this Harvest from Witty Hoots
Top 10 Harvest Sensory Fun Activities from Adventures of Adam
Top 10 Thanksgiving Table Decoration Crafts from Play & Learn Everyday
Top 10 Turkey Crafts for Preschoolers from P is for Preschooler
Top 10 Thanksgiving Leftovers Ideas from Our Good Life
Top 10 Harvest Recipes from Nemcsok Farms
Top 10 Thanksgiving Printables for Preschoolers by Living Life and Learning
Top 10 Thankful Trees from Rhythms of Play
Top Ten Thanksgiving Sensory Activities from Crafty Kids at Home
Top 10 Corn Crafts for Kids from Artsy Momma
Top 10 Turkey Themed Fine Motor Activities from School Time Snippets
Top 10 Thanksgiving Books for Preschoolers from Something 2 Other
Top 10 Tips for Avoiding Sensory Overload at Thanksgiving from Lemon Lime Adventures