1. Time the turkey so that it will be done at least an hour or so before you plan to eat. That way, you have time to bake the sides and let the turkey rest. Letting the turkey rest (under tin foil), allows the juices to redistribute so it will be super moist and flavorful. Don't worry about it getting cold, this year for Friendsgiving I had the turkey done 2 hours early and it was still piping hot inside when I sliced it!
|This is the official 2012 turkey photo!|
2. Do absolutely everything you can in advance. Most thanksgiving casseroles can be assembled the night before and baked off before dinner. I'm always thinking of more things I want to make at the last minute, so I try to get everything I possibly can done in advance.
3. Take help where you can. When you have twenty people for dinner, the dishes can be overwhelming. This year, I opted to use paper plates and I cannot believe how easy the clean up was! Essentially all I had to do was wash silverware, wine glasses, and casserole dishes. Hosting a large dinner is so much more fun when you aren't stressed about cleaning up!
4. Always, and I mean always, start the party with an empty dishwasher. Clean up will go quickly if people can put their own dishes in the dishwasher.
5. Set up a bar. At smaller gatherings, it's easy enough to top off drinks and play bartender, but when I'm whisking up gravy and trying to make sure the bread doesn't burn, it can be overwhelming. I use a variety of glasses so people are less likely to get them confused, set out a red and a white wine, and cocktail napkins. For a large gathering, I only use dishwasher safe glasses.
6. If you're serving dinner buffet style, set out trivets and plenty of serving spoons in advance, as well as extra plates and napkins.
7. Keep a sense of humor. When you're having a large crowd over for dinner, just know that no matter what, something will go awry! My first friendsgiving, I couldn't even lift the turkey it was so heavy. When I had my friend Brandon retrieve it from the oven for me, he spilled the turkey grease ALL over my kitchen floor. That was right before we cut it open and it was still raw. Needless to say, I had a complete fit (there were tears) and i'm still trying to live it down! The food is important, but the fun is what everyone will remember.
8. Most importantly, make sure you have someone to guard the turkey. Your friends may try to take the leftovers otherwise. My faithful Roscoe was assigned this task this year; he really went above and beyond the call of duty.