The Less-Stress Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide

Holidays are often busy. That’s why it’s important to check out this Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide that will help you keep stress levels lower. A few years ago, I decided to take on the holiday and do everything. By the time dinner was ready, I ended up feeling sick, dehydrated, and needed to rest. I slept right through the meal and didn’t get to enjoy the food or time with my loved ones. This year, take a few weeks to use the tips and hacks below in my Less-Stress Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide that fit your family’s needs!

Having the Thanksgiving dinner table set and ready for dinner is one of my top tips in the Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide!

1 | Make Your Thanksgiving Feast a Potluck

If I could remodel my kitchen, I have often contemplated the idea of including two ovens. One never seems to be enough! If you’re not a fan of reheating dishes, try to create a potluck-style dinner with your family and guests that will be attending, if they are capable. Is Grandma’s stuffing the best you’ve ever had? Does your Aunt make the best pies or cheesecakes? Been craving Mom’s homemade cranberry sauce? It will free up a lot of your oven space, giving you time to focus on other dishes (like the turkey!).

Keep scrolling down to check out an assortment of hundreds of recipes in this fantastic Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide!

Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide Pies & Cheesecakes to Try!

2 | Use More Than Your Oven to Cook

Do you have a slow cooker or Instant Pot? They are FANTASTIC for helping clear out some room in your oven to cook/bake. If the weather permits, you can also utilize your grills and smokers for more than the turkey, ham, or other meats you will be enjoying. An air fryer is also a great way to make fried foods a little healthier for you and your guests. When using a slow cooker, I always recommend using slow cooker liners to make clean-up easier!

Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide to Standard Oven Roasting:

  • If the bird is small — up to 12 pounds — figure 1 pound per person. A 12-pound turkey will serve 12 people.
  • If the bird is over 12 pounds, figure ¾ lb. per person.
  • If you have purchased a bone-in breast, it will require about ½ pound per person.
  • If you have purchased a boneless breast or turkey roll, you’ll need about 1/3 pound per person.

Most of us purchase frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving. Thawing a frozen turkey needs to be done in advance of actually cooking the turkey. You will need to allow anywhere from one to three days to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey. Turkeys should be thawed covered and at room temperature. Most turkeys will need about two days to thaw completely. A large turkey that weighs 16 pounds or more will require three days to thaw at room temperature. Thawing instructions are usually on the package.

All turkeys are roasted at 325° Fahrenheit. Roasting times are determined by the weight of the turkey. In general you can figure about 20 minutes of roasting time per pound.

3 | Lay Out Dishes Ahead of Time

One of my most popular recommendations for the Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide is to prepare as much ahead of time as possible! After you have decided which dishes you will be making, lay out the casserole dishes, baking pans, etc. that you will be baking/cooking with. Mark each one with a sticky note to ensure that you have everything organized and don’t end up without a dish to cook your green bean casserole!

4 | Invest in a Tiered Oven Rack

When I start baking and cooking for the holidays, I kick myself for not investing in a tiered oven rack sooner. That’s why I knew I had to make sure it made the ultimate Thanksgiving guide top list! These are fantastic for when you’re cooking for a crowd. You can easily cook up to three casseroles and still have room for your roasting pan. The rack easily folds up for compact storage when not in use. The rack is made of non-stick chrome material that is dishwasher-friendly!

5 | Use Paper Napkins Instead of Cloth Napkins

After being washed, to have crisp cloth napkins, you will need to get the iron out. Who has time for that? Unless ironing is your jam, opt for Thanksgiving-themed paper napkins. Over the years, the quality has improved, so chances are, your guests won’t even notice. Plus, you’ll have less laundry to worry about after the meal!

6 | Use Coolers for Beverages and Condiments

Need to free up space in your refrigerator and space in your kitchen? Use coolers for your beverages and condiments that will be needed throughout your event. This will prevent guests from frequently getting in and out of the refrigerator and you can store more in the extra space! We keep ours in the laundry room because of the concrete floor (in case of leaks!) and easy access for our guests.

7 | Cover the Kid’s Table with Paper

Check with your local newspaper office to purchase an “end roll” of blank paper that you can use for covering the kids’ tables. Set out crayons or colored pencils and let them have fun drawing! It will keep them settled and makes for a fun activity the kids can do together.

Try these easy-to-eat, kid-friendly Chocolate Caramel Apple Pops!

These Chocolate Caramel Apple Pops are perfect for the kids' table- Lynchburg Mama's Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide

8 | Cook 2 Smaller Turkeys Instead of 1 Big Turkey

For a larger crowd, consider cooking two smaller turkeys instead of one big turkey. They will cook faster and you can create different rubs, brines, etc. for each one to offer a choice of flavor. Every few years, we opt for buying each guest a Cornish Game Hen. The prep work is a little more intensive; however, each guest can choose their favorite seasonings.

9 | Invest in a Set of White Cotton Bar Mop Towels

Messes happen! Invest in a set of white cotton bar mop towels. These are very absorbent and easy to wash. Investing in a set will be valuable for much more beyond Thanksgiving. This is another one of my favorite tips in this Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide!

10 | Prep Garnishes Ahead of Time

Save time by prepping the garnishes you will be using. If you will be using roasted/toasted nuts, do it ahead of time and store in tightly-sealed containers in the fridge. Using glass jars, I like to mix up my spices I’ll be using for dishes, too. If you’re making pie crusts or need to prep breadcrumbs for your stuffing, invest in a box grater. This makes the process simple!

Fresh herbs are always one of my favorite ways to give Thanksgiving dishes the best flavor. An herb stripper can make the prep work easy and quick. A zester will also make it easy to have fresh lemon or lime zest for your recipes.

For cooking turkey and ham, you will want to pick up a meat thermometer. Ensure that your meats get to the proper temperature to protect your guests from foodborne illnesses. I prefer this instant read food thermometer!

11 | Freeze Grapes to Cool Wine

This couldn’t be an Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide without a wine tip! Instead of using ice to keep your glass chilled, try freezing grapes for your guests to use. They won’t water it down and if you use red and white, you can add a fun festive look as a gateway to Christmas.

12 | Consider Family Table Topics

One of the most important things we can do with our children is connect over a family meal. This fun mix of age appropriate questions range from silly to thought-provoking and encourage up-building conversation between parents and kids. It’s perfect for mealtime or bedtime, use it every day! You’ll learn something new about your kids and even yourself. With questions specially designed to engage kids in the art of conversation. Ask questions like “is it more fun to be a parent or a child” and “is it harder for you to eat healthy or get exercise.” Recommended for ages 6+. 4-inch acrylic cube with 135 questions.

This fun mix of age-appropriate questions ranges from silly to thought-provoking and provides an easy way to get your family talking. Perfect for family dinner time conversation, family game night, or whenever you want to spark a really fun conversation.

13 | Have Plastic To-Go Containers for Leftovers

After a few days, your family is going to tire of Thanksgiving leftovers. To prevent burnout, consider purchasing some extra to-go dishes that you can send with your guests. You don’t have to worry about getting your dishes returned. When storing our own leftovers, I prefer to use glass containers.

14 | Consider Volunteering Some of Your Time

Homelessness has grown into a major problem in the United States and in many other countries of the world. As the economy slows, as it is doing now, everybody feels the pinch — but nobody feels it more than those who already have nothing, not even a home.

Many of us have so much. We have enough to eat, sometimes too much to eat. And we have it everyday. We have a roof over our heads and a nice clean bed to crawl into at night. Most average and even “low income” Americans are considered “wealthy” by the standards of the rest of the world.

Most of us have our Thanksgiving feast all planned, but we can all take a minute out of our busy schedules and a few dollars out of bank accounts to help to feed the homeless. Nobody should go hungry in America. Give to your local food bank. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen. You can help to feed the world, and you can help to make a homeless person thankful as well.

To me, this is the most important aspect of the Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide to remember!


Must-Have Tools for the Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide

Sometimes all it takes to make a great meal is having the right tools! These items are exactly what you’ll need to make the perfectly-cooked turkey or ham, mashed potatoes, apple pies, and more. I have personally used several of these and they quickly became permanent tools for my own kitchen. To shop each item, click the text on the picture! Save 10% on your order by using my special code while checking out: LYNCHBURGTNMAMA10


Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide Recipes

This Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide includes numerous recipes from bloggers all across the internet to help bring the perfect dinner to your table. I love using these link-ups because it helps keep your place when checking out the recipes. Once you’ve viewed on, it will leave a blue checkmark.

Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide Ham or Turkey Main Dishes

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Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide Side Dishes

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Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide Desserts

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The Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide is everything you need to have the best Thanksgiving this year! Stress less, learn a few tips and tricks, and discover the top tools I use. You'll also discover 500+ recipes for everything from a turkey or ham, to side dishes, to dessert!

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