Tips for Cooking Your First Big Holiday Meal

I cooked my first big holiday meal for Thanksgiving this year in our new home. There were so many learnings for me that I thought I would share them with all of you.

Thanksgiving Table Decor

Thanksgiving Table Decor

Buy The ‘Stuff’ Needed

Who knew that cooking a holiday meal would entail buying soooo many things. Here is a list of what all I ended up buying:

  1. An All Clad Roaster for the turkey
  2. An Electric Knife
  3. Turkey Lifters
  4. Meat Thermometer
  5. Pins for the Turkey
  6. Thread for the Turkey
  7. 2 Staub Baking Dishes
  8. A Staub French Oven
  9. A Gravy Boat
  10. A Pie Dish
  11. A Pumpkin Serving Dish
  12. A Platter for the Turkey
  13. Napkins
  14. Napkin Rings
  15. Decor
  16. Table Cloth and Placemats

I hope this list helps you 🙂

Research Recipes for the Holiday Meal

Now onto cooking the holiday meal. About a month before the day I started picking out recipes. I made a Pinterest board of all the recipes I was planning to make. Here is my board. You can repurpose some of these recipes for Christmas or Easter.

Turkey Buttered and Stuffed

Turkey Buttered and Stuffed

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Parmesan Knots

Parmesan Knots

Use An App for Lists

After I picked out the recipes I used this app called AnyList. I absolutely love this app. You can pick categories for lists and then save them. So if you are traditional and usually cook the same recipes then you will always have a list that you can use over and over again!

Research Decor

This being my Thanksgiving dinner, I researched table decor. Here is my board. You could do the same for a Christmas dinner or an Easter dinner too! I recommend researching decor at least a month in advance so you have the time to buy everything you need.

Thanksgiving Table Decor

Thanksgiving Table Decor

Thanksgiving Table Decor

Thanksgiving Table Decor

Thanksgiving Table Decor - With Pumpkin Candles

Thanksgiving Table Decor – With Pumpkin Candles

Prep Ahead

About 3 weeks in advance book the Turkey.

About a week in advance start setting up the table decor.

Then comes the actual groceries. I bought groceries about 3 days before so that nothing would sell out. I picked up the Turkey the day before (my turkey was fresh).

Prep the vegetables the day before. If you’re going to make an herb butter for the turkey do that a day before too. Make any pies or dessert the day before a store it in the fridge.

Table Set!

Table Set!

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie Ready

Pumpkin Pie Ready

Start Early

On the day I woke up at 5:30am. I had a 20lb bird, so it had to be in the oven about 5 hours. So I wanted to make sure I had enough time to cook the remaining dishes. We washed the bird and then buttered it. The bird was in the oven by 7am. Once the bird went in I had time to leisurely start putting the rest of the dishes together. With the veggies prepped it was much easier pulling the casseroles together.

Cook With Someone Experienced

For your first time, this one is important! I had my mother in law to help me. I completely underestimated how many questions I had. How do I tie the bird, where to stuff it etc. Having her around was a huge help. So have someone who has done this before, not only will it give you confidence but it will also ensure everything turns out just right!

Make an Appetizer

If you plan to serve by about 2pm, it’s a good idea to have a small appetizer so that your guests have something to munch on. Pick something not too difficult to make. I picked a simple cheeseball that turned out to be a big hit. It wasn’t too filling so everyone was just hungry enough to enjoy a full meal as well!

Cheese Ball

Cheese Ball

Cheese Ball and Crackers

Cheese Ball and Crackers

Turkey Buttered and Stuffed

Turkey Buttered and Stuffed

Turkey Almost Ready

Turkey Almost Ready

Turkey Almost Ready

Turkey Almost Ready

Turkey Ready

Turkey Ready

Table is Laid

Table is Laid

All Set to Eat!

All Set to Eat!

Not only was I ready ahead of time but everything turned out really great! I absolutely love the turkey recipe I tried as well, it made the bird very very juicy!

 

I hope these tips help when you cook your big family holiday dinner! Best of luck 🙂

 

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