Nothing will be ready on timeiStock/Frantysek
It goes without saying that the sweet potatoes will be ready three hours before the turkey, which will come out an hour before the cranberries, if you even remember to serve them. Here's what to do: Make a game plan and stick to it. Starting a week ahead of the Big Day, make a list of every dish you'll be serving and figure out what can be made ahead of time and frozen, and how long everything takes to prepare and cook. Don't leave out any step, including how long something will take to serve. (Looking for a stress-free Thanksgiving? Get our FREE guide for an unforgettable Thanksgiving. You'll get easy recipes, kid-friendly crafts and games, inspiring traditions, and more ideas for the best holiday yet.)
You'll buy too large a turkeyiStock/RyanJLane
On Thanksgiving, we're all gluttons. (If ostriches were available at our local ShopRite, we would all serve them instead of a turkey). But size does matter, and too much turkey means more thawing time, more cooking time, and more turkey-tetrazzini-leftovers-eating time. Here's what to do: A good rule of thumb: one pound of turkey per person. So if you're having eight guests for Thanksgiving, you'll need an eight-pound bird. If your guests are a bunch of oinkers, you might be able to Amazon yourself that ostrich. Here are more tips for buying the perfect turkey.
You'll forget to defrost the too-large turkeyiStock/NAN104
"OMG! I bought the fittest turkey ever! Check out its rock-hard abs and pecs!" Sadly, the bird is rock hard because you forgot to thaw it out. Here's what to do: Give the bird a bath. Fill a large bucket, sink, or bathtub with cold water and let it bathe breast down. If it's fully frosted, allow 30 minutes per pound.
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You're going to leave the giblets inside the turkeyiStock/cookelma
Do you recall studying giblets in biology class? Neither do I. But that burning smell coming from inside the turkey? That's the bag of giblets you were supposed to remove before popping the bird in the oven. Here's what to do: Remove the giblets before popping the bird in the oven!
You'll Texas Chainsaw Massacre your turkeyiStock/budgetstockphoto
Let's face it, you've spent weeks planning your meal only to have the carving board end up looking like a crime scene. Here's what to do: First things first, says Cooking Light, with the turkey on a carving board, remove the string tying the legs together (50 Shades of Fowl!). Then: 1. Remove the legs, thighs, and wings by slicing down until you reach the joint. Grabbing the leg or wing, push down until separated from the bird. 2. To remove the turkey breasts, find the breastbone. Position a long, flexible knife on one side of it, and slice downward, as close to the bone as possible. As you slice, use your other hand to pull the meat away from the breastbone in one piece. 3. To slice the breast meat, use tongs to steady the breast, position the meat so you'll cut it at its shorter length. Slice against the grain, taking care to keep the skin attached.
You're going to argue with your brother-in-lawiStock/eyecrave
You know someone will say something stupid, which will cause you to say something stupid back, which will result in someone else spewing their offensive brand of stupidity, which means... Here's what to do: "Do you homework," says Gawker.com, and "anticipate" anything stupid that might be said. Research political arguments and reconsider past family scraps, this way you can "predict how you may react" to what's thrown at you (preferably not the turkey). Play it safe by following these Thanksgiving etiquette tips for hosts and guests alike.
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You're going to be a football widowiStock/monkeybusinessimages
On that last Thursday of November, the thing that some people are most thankful for are the football games playing that day. If you're not one of them, take heart. Here's what to do: The Los Angeles Times suggests that this is your chance to do whatever it is you've wanted to do, but Mr. or Mrs. Football wasn't into. Work off your meal by going for a walk/hike or to the gym. Clean out your closets and donate whatever you don't need. Read a novel. Or you can do what we do at my home: Pass out from all the food.
You'll shop on a full stomachiStock/mediaphotos
The real sport on Thanksgiving Day isn't football, it's a game called Survivor: Mall! Millions of Americans will cut their holiday short in order to do their best Roller Derby imitation in an attempt to get great Black Friday deals. Will you emerge with a half-priced Sony TV or three fewer teeth? Here's what to do: Don't go. Those cheap-o prices? Chances are they'll get lower as the season progresses, says The Wall Street Journal. Besides, better deals can often be found at other times of the year. Plus, like Pavlov's shopping dog, you see the sign "SALE!" and you're bound to salivate, spending more than you'd intended. Don't make these other Black Friday shopping mistakes.