Thanksgiving Hacks to Make Your Holiday Stress-Free

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. From my early childhood, Thanksgiving has meant family, friends and of course, wonderful food. A perfectly roasted turkey is a beautiful thing. Mother would always use her best china, her silverware, a lace tablecloth, and her crystal. It was special. It also involved many pots, dishes, pans, and clean-up. I was usually involved in the clean-up.




Here are my thoughts on making Thanksgiving a less stress day.

I. Sometimes our expectations make a wonderful time an exceedingly stressful time. We have our memories and want to make memories for our children.  Nothing is really perfect; neither the dinners we had as children, nor the dinners we produce for our families.  For a more stress-free Thanksgiving, I would like to suggest we first remember to not place unreal expectations on ourselves and others. The dinner will be wonderful even if there is a small mishap or problem. Keep a smile and warm thoughts as this too shall pass.


Princess Pinky Girl has this cute free checklist for download.





II.  The next consideration is knowing what you want to happen, what you need to accomplish it, and having a plan to make it a reality. There are many checklists available on other blogs for this (see above), or just jot down on paper or your phone your ideas.  How many people are coming? For side dishes, how much and what size dish is required? How big should the turkey or main dish be? What size pan for the turkey (or other main dish) is needed?

I know this is important because more than two decades ago, I was hosting Thanksgiving and my sister insisted on buying a fresh Amish turkey for the meal. I told her the size needed and what my pan would hold. So the afternoon before Thanksgiving, she brought me a fresh, never frozen, no hormone Amish turkey which was almost twice as big as I had requested. It was huge. I had no pan to fit this bird. I frantically went to the store for a bigger pan. The only one I found big enough to hold half of that turkey was disposable.  I bought two and my husband cut the bird in two. I cooked half in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving and while the family ate, I cooked the second half. Everyone went home with lots of fresh turkey. So have a good roasting pan to fit your needs and try to de-stress over mistakes. No one except me was upset over that turkey.


Photo Amazon


III.  If you wish, you could have others who are attending bring a side dish or dessert. Less stress for you, and really more fun for everyone. Some people are known for a particular dessert, salad or dish. Why not have them bring their best and you provide the main event?


IV.  I would also suggest that some side dishes not requiring an oven or that could be made the day before would give you breathing room. BuzzFeed even did an article on 19 things you can make for Thanksgiving without an oven.


V. There have been quite a few articles on Thanksgiving hacks to save time and stress in the kitchen.  My favorite time saver is completing prep before the day of Thanksgiving. Need chopped or sliced celery, carrots, or potatoes for the meal? Peel and chop carrots or celery even two days before  and keep in the refrigerator. Potatoes should be kept in water overnight. Need bread, biscuits, or cornbread for dressing? Make two days ahead and save for the day.


VI. Make room in the refrigerator by storing non-essentials in a picnic cooler with ice packs.  Don’t need pickles for the day? Into the cooler. Or use a cooler for serve-yourself drinks. Coolers can be a small fridge or a serving tool or both. Your choice. Patio coolers are both attractive and functional in serving large groups of people.


Photo Amazon

VII. I would also suggest that you have a set of containers that work well together to maximize space in the refrigerator.  I remember reading one post last year on time-saving hacks. Everything was prepped ahead and placed in plastic bags. Yes, I use plastic bags sometimes but I really prefer to not clog the environment with a ton of plastic bags. Plus many wetter items do better in a nice reusable container. If the bag opens, out runs the wet mess. Now you have a refrigerator to clean. Most of us save margarine bowls and lids. I have some, but my preference is glass or ceramic containers and bowls. I’ve owned Pyrex and Corning products for years.

Amazon has a nice 24 piece set of containers with lids.  Prepare in the bowl, store, and  reheat in the microwave or oven because its glass. Since they are square, it is easier to fit in the refrigerator.


Photo Wayfair

These extra large glass food storage containers with airtight lids  [3 containers with lids] will hold large amounts for the holidays and are microwave/oven/freezer & dishwasher safe. They’re on my wish-list. Using glass or ceramic for cooking and storage is great for you and your food. No chemicals are released into your food like plastic.



Photo Wayfair



I hope these ideas help in planning your day. I’m wishing you a stress-free holiday. Enjoy this time of family, friends, and thankfulness. Remember the ones you love want to spend time with you. God Bless!








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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

12 thoughts to “Thanksgiving Hacks to Make Your Holiday Stress-Free”

    1. Oh, believe me I was! But that also helped me learn to not have the unreal expectations. My dream of a perfect whole bird didn’t matter to the 20 people eating with me that day.

  1. Your tips for a stress free Thanksgiving dinner are all great! I have hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner before and what really helped me was being organized and having it all planned out… and yes, family brought desserts and other treats as well so that really helped!

  2. We don’t host the holiday dinner, but we all bring sides, salads and desserts to take away the stress on the hosts. This way they just need to make the bird and dressing, we bring the rest. It makes the holiday so much more enjoyable for everyone.

    I love the pyrex rectangle glass containers, they stack well in the frig, butting right up against each other or the refrigerator walls, you can prep a day ahead and then just let the container come to room temp and pop in the oven. We have 2 sets, the round ones are great for sauces or gravy too. Great suggestion.

  3. Great tips! Thanks for sharing them with SYC. I think Thanksgiving should be more fun and not so much fuss! 🙂 My kids are great to always bring a dish. It really helps minimize the work.

  4. Carol, what great tips! I especially like the one of doing the prep work a couple of days in advance. Although, we’re having a small Thanksgiving this year … I did start making things this weekend … I have my brine ready, cranberry sauce is done … I made pie crust (for the first time ever) and froze it … let’s just keep our fingers crossed it’s actually eatable lol …. thank goodness it’s just me and my hubby … he’s used to my mess ups but gobbles them away anyway … he’s a trooper lol xo

  5. So many great tips here! Now that us “grandkids” are now in our thirties and forties we’ve taken over cooking and bringing just about everything besides the main event to my aunt’s house every thanksgiving – just my making the potatoes (my husband gets the job of pealing the whole five pound bag lol) I know takes a lot of stress and work off of her! Thank you for sharing with us at the To Grandma’s house we go link party! Hope to see you tomorrow when the next party starts!

  6. Great tips!! Thanks so much for linking up at #AThemedLinkup 4 for All Things Thanksgiving. Shared.

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