One of my favorite holidays is right around the corner and I could not be more excited. For me, there’s nothing more fun than organizing, planning, and decorating for a big extravagant dinner (no surprise, right?). So you can imagine that Thanksgiving is a huge deal around my household. But I understand that there are many people who don’t have the time or dinner planning experience that I do. If you think you’re that kind of person, most times you’re scrambling last minute to get everything together. Then a series of Thanksgiving mistakes begin to follow. Well, worry not, because I’ve articulated a list of big Thanksgiving mistakes and how to avoid them. They are as follows.
1. No Game Plan
Just like the football teams you watch on Thanksgiving day, they don’t go into the stadium without a game plan. And neither do you. Even if you’re waiting until the last minute, a proper game plan is oh-so-necessary. In my opinion, I think a proper Thanksgiving requires at least four days of planning, but if you’re down to the two, that’s okay too. To me, the more dishes the better. But it’s easy for things to south without the right planning. Take some time to sit down and assess your guests’ needs and wants. See what’s available in the store and set realistic expectations. Get an idea of what everyone wants to eat and scour the internet for recipes and ideas. Need ideas to get started? Pinterest is an excellent resource for all your Thanksgiving planning, cooking, and decorating inspiration needs. In addition, Eating Well has a really helpful Easy Thanksgiving Menu and Planner.
We all know how much significance this dinner has for you and your loved ones, so how can you expect perfect execution without a good game plan?
2. One Man Team
The second of the biggest Thanksgiving mistakes is that most people trying to do everything on their own. We understand how you want everything to be perfect, but sometimes perfection requires a little help. The family bonding shouldn’t start when everyone starts eating, it should begin when they walk through the door! Invite your guests a little early this year and get everyone talking before everyone sits down at the table. Get the everyone involved this year and consider delegating small tasks to other family members or friends. This reduces your workload and makes everyone feel like they took part in creating a Thanksgiving dinner they will never forget.
3. Lumpy Gravy
No matter how delicious and eye-watering your turkey is, if your gravy is lumpy or dry then the entire meal will be ruined. And it’s so unfortunate because I see this happen so often. Thankfully, this is a problem that’s incredibly easy to avoid. So most people use either cornstarch or flour to thicken the turkey drippings into a thick gravy consistency. But this is what people tend to miss: never add thickener directly to hot liquids! Here’s a simple trick: fill a cup with cold water and then slowly blend your thickening agent into the cup until consistently smooth. This liquid can now be added to your turkey drippings and make it a nice, smooth consistency. So please don’t make this mistake and focus on your gravy making sure that it is on point! Please do not make the common mistake of adding the thickener directly to the gravy.
4. Cold Mashed Potatoes
Mash potatoes and turkey is probably one of the most classic combinations for Thanksgiving. Don’t ruin this delicious duo by making the big mistake of having cold or undercooked mashed potatoes. Everyone knows that of all the Thanksgiving dishes, the mashed potatoes are the first to go. Having a bad batch of mashed potatoes could cost your guests their appetite and the overall vibe of the dinner. Since mashed potatoes are normally made last they face the constant risk of being served prematurely. So many sure you plan accordingly. Properly executed mashed potatoes should be whipped into a smooth consistency. This is done by adding the right amount of milk and butter. The Pioneer Woman has an amazing recipe for Delicious, Creamy Mashed Potatoes that I use quite frequently. And a quick tip that goes a long way is to keep piercing the potatoes with a fork to find out if they have been cooked properly.
5. Undercooking Your Turkey
In my opinion, an undercooked turkey dinner should be a punishable crime as it is possibly the biggest ruin your dinner! No one wants to sit at the dinner table, stomach rumbling waiting to feast, only to find a bloody, undercooked bird. Without the main event, you’re left with a bunch of sides, and that just makes for a mediocre Thanksgiving. We understand that there might be a lot of pressure on you but you will need to be patient and wait till your bird is fully cooked. Make sure your oven is set to the right temperature and refrain from continuously checking the turkey. There are two super solutions to this problem: 1) invest in a culinary thermometer, they’re super cheap and can be found almost anywhere. 2) buy a turkey that comes with prongs that indicate when your bird is ready. These types of turkey are very easy to find.
Thanksgiving is a big deal to some people (including me), so if you are looking for the perfect dinner, please consider avoiding the Thanksgiving mistakes mentioned above! Is there anything we missed? Let us know on our Facebook page.