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Do not try to do some fancy song and dance on your first Thanksgiving. Even if you are a naturally gifted cook who’s blessed with grace and social-emotional genius and a nice vintage apron. Even if your mom’s friend got you that fancy fondue set for your birthday that you would never have bought for yourself but now that you have it you’re like “oh hey maybe I could make some kind of Pinterest-y cranberry fondue and everyone will call me a genius,” just stop. STOP. Do not get yourself into this kind of mess.

Like with all things in life, you’ll do well to just go with what you know. Are you the kind of person who doesn’t really make dishes with more than five ingredients? Awesome. You can make a dope turkey with just soy sauce, steak seasoning, olive oil, and garlic.

Serious tip: If you don’t have one, get yourself a thermometer. That white pop-up thing on the turkey isn’t totally reliable and you don’t want to serve over (or under) -done meat here, people. (Plus, you will use it again.)

Cranberry sauce

Save the sides

Worried about how and when to make all your sides? Boil it down to the few you know you want and need. Stuffing. Mashed potatoes. Cranberry sauce. For vegetables, make a veggie dish you make for yourself every week. I bet you’ve had a lot of practice with that, at least, which means it’s going to be both easy to throw together on the big day, plus it’ll taste good because you already know how to make it. Ask your guests to bring other sides if they like to supplement what you’re already doing. (Make those people bring dessert, too! And put a pumpkin pie in your freezer in case you want extra.)

So that leaves the stuffing and potatoes.


Make the potatoes the day before

Potatoes can totally be made the day before, and they’re so easy and delicious. Here’s the conversion rate: There are four servings in a pound (which is about three potatoes). So if you’re having 10 people over, get at least three pounds. And save your wrist with a good peeler. Boil the potatoes and then mash them (this ricer is a life-saver), cover them, and put them in the fridge. Before dinner, just microwave them and add your butter, milk, and sour cream, or whichever ingredients your fave recipe calls for.


Don’t be scared of stuffing

Are you scared of stuffing? Don’t be. Most recipes can be made the day before (in fact, they’re better that way), which gives you plenty of time to toast the bread and prep the dressing for the turkey the next day. Or make it even easier on yourself: I promise you, everyone loves that boxed stuff.


Keep the table simple

For place settings, this is where you can get fancy and have your Pinterest fun. You can plan this days or weeks in advance and can pretty much get it set up before you have to even go to the grocery store. These pinot noir glasses are gorgeous and contemporary, and perfect for the pinot you’ll want to grab for your dinner. Do you have enough flatwear? These are lovely and affordable and go great with this tablecloth.


Wine, wine, wine

Finally, make sure you’ve got lots of wine and a killer playlist. Not only in the background during dinner, but during the prep itself!

Hosting Thanksgiving is going to be fun. I promise.

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