How to Have a Stress-Free Holiday
There are plenty of parts of a traditional Thanksgiving meal that can be done in advance of the big day. Many of the tasks only take a few minutes if you break them down and tackle each element in advance. This way, when Thanksgiving day rolls around, all you've got to do is stick the bird in the oven (or on the grill) and let it cook while you enjoy the day.
Two weeks ahead.
Make the call and order your turkey early. Your butcher will love you for it. Assume you'll be serving about 1½ pounds per person. Everyone will be well-fed and you’ll have plenty of leftovers.
One week ahead.
Plan your sides and desserts. Here’s something you may not know: cranberry sauce is actually jam. That’s right, this high-pectin fruit gels naturally and will keep for weeks in the refrigerator, so go ahead and make it early.
You should also make your pie crust early, and freeze it. On the big day (or the day before) you can roll it out and bake your pies.
Five days ahead.
Defrost your turkey. Most turkeys are sold frozen and can take several days to defrost in the refrigerator. You'll want to make sure that it's completely defrosted and ready to be brined or salt-cured 36 to 48 hours before cooking.
Two days ahead.
You don’t have to wait until the turkey is done to make your gravy. Retrieve the neck and giblets from the bird and use them to make the gravy. It will keep in the refrigerator for several days and reheats beautifully.
The day before.
Set the table. Go ahead and cross it off your list. While you’re at it, pull out your serving dishes (make sure you have all that you’ll need) and match them with the proper serving utensils.
Pour a glass of wine and put your feet up. You’ve got this.