Rest Your Fears About Hosting Thanksgiving

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As the host of Thanksgiving dinner, you will have plenty on your plate to be concerned about. But thanks to these tips, the things that could possibly go wrong probably won’t. Relax—have a drink. You got this.

What If I Don’t Have Enough Food?

Thanksgiving nightmare No. 1  is running out of food, as guests clamor for another helping of green bean casserole. You don’t have to guesstimate the amount of food you need to feed your crowd. Simply plug in your number of guests here and you’ll have your shopping list. Wondering how big of a turkey to buy? The USDA recommends 1 pound per person. And check out our breakdown of turkey types to help you choose the best one.

What If All the Food Isn’t Ready at the Same Time?

The turkey is getting cold on the counter while the yams are still rock-hard in the oven. Your quickest solution is a warming tray to keep items ready for the table as you pull together the meal’s remaining dishes. When possible, make menu components in advance and then reheat as needed. “Try not to panic,” advises Raleigh, N.C.-based life coach Julie Coraccio. “Most people won’t notice.” And if they get fidgety? “Bring it back to what the day is about—giving thanks and enjoying the company of loved ones.”

What If the Turkey Is Undercooked or Overcooked?

Cooks have worried over turkeys since they began serving them. Ensure a properly cooked turkey each and every time by following the steps outlined by the United States Department of Agriculture in its “Let’s Talk Turkey” Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey. Or, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline—even on Thanksgiving Day. And of course a digital meat thermometer would help.

What If Someone Isn’t Having Fun?

That’s not really your problem. “You could throw an amazing party and someone might be bored, but that has nothing to do with you,” Coraccio says. “If someone isn’t having a good time, focus on everyone else enjoying themselves.” The recipe for a perfect Thanksgiving gathering looks something like this: tasty appetizers, games, soothing music, dinner and drinks, a flow of conversation, and plenty of dessert. Done.

What If I Serve the Wrong Dessert?

No such thing! Pumpkin and apple pie are the most traditional choices, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with serving other pies and desserts. “Consider asking someone to bring a pie, other than the traditional ones,” Coraccio suggests. “Ask a bakery what other pies and desserts are popular for Thanksgiving, and you have a good chance of having people who like one or the other.”

The bottom line, according to Coraccio: “Do the best that you can and let the day flow as it’s meant to.”

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