The Five Best Thanksgiving Tips I’ve Gathered

By 300 Sandwiches

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E and I are hosting our third Friendsgiving at our apartment next week. Since our first, we’ve gathered some good intel on how to host a kick ass holiday.

We have decided to host Thanksgiving, as opposed to flying home and making our parents cook. We’ll be with them in a few weeks later for Christmas. So instead of fighting traffic, flight delays, bad weather and annoying siblings who keep asking when you’re going to settle down, we spend Thanksgiving with friends.

Since I’m a cooking novice, I scour cookbooks, magazines, the Internet and make multiple calls to my mom to get advice on how to handle cooking and entertaining. Advice is everywhere. Good advice is more scarce. Below, the five most helpful Thanksgiving tips I’ve found so far:

–SEND INVITATIONS EARLY: IF you’re hosting a “Friendsgiving,” send out save the dates early, like three weeks in advance. Your friends are likely deciding whether to travel or stay put, and you want to give them options before they fork over cash. You also want to lock in how many people to buy food for before you go shopping. Real story: I sent my invites three weeks in advance. Last night, another friend of mine sent a casual text to the same group of friends inviting them to their home for Thanksgiving. Most of them had already committed to coming to my house instead. Early bird gets the dinner guests.

–AND IF GUESTS CAN’T COMMIT TO ATTENDING, DISINVITE THEM: You invite a friend, they say, “maybe I’ll stop by after I go to another friend’s dinner/maybe I’ll pop in for dessert/I know you said 3 PM, but I don’t know if I can make it until 4.” Are you thankful to see me or not! The New York Times’ Philip Galanes had the best advice about dealing with this. Disinvite them!

–BRING TURKEY TO ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE COOKING: “Bring it to room temperature an hour before cooking,” says Food Network’s Alton Brown. “This will actually cut down on the cooking time by making the bird’s thermal trip shorter.” I do this with all of my meat now before I cook. It does allow for more even cooking and shortens cooking time, particularly for a 20 pound turkey.

–SIDES DON’T HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED: I love a good sweet potato soufflĂ©. But it takes peeling potatoes, mashing potatoes, whipping, seasoning and more time. Or , I could slice open a few sweet potatoes, stuff them with marshmallows and brown sugar, and bake for an hour while I work on the turkey. Just as pretty. Just as tasty. See a yummy version by Tyler Florence here.

—MINI BLOWTORCH: Trust me. Get one. Use it to make creme brulee, or give a burnt sugar sheen to any dessert. Dazzle friends. We have one. It’s awesome. Here’s a cute one from Macy’s that come with four ramekins.

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