The minutes the holidays get close, you can find me standing in front of the magazine stand.  I buy lots of entertaining and home magazine just to see what they are doing for their loved ones and homes this year.  It’s always a day in front of the fire perusing table settings, plates, flowers, etc.  I begin to make my list from this inspiration.  This year, for the first time, my daughter Ashley is hosting.  I am SO excited.  As you know, if you know me, we a a bit challenged in the kitchen area……….

THESE are my FAVORITE Thanksgiving tips for both sides of holiday entertaining—from moment to moment timelines to incredible and creative menu-making swaps: 


1. Add an ‘acid’ to your Thanksgiving dinner. Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat points out that acid is an essential flavor element, but is often left out of Thanksgiving dinners. An easy swap to make is to replace cream or butter in the mashed potatoes, with crème fraîche or sour cream to add a richness to the meal. Here’s her full Thanksgiving menu.

2. Make sure you have tools you need BEFORE you begin. Now is the time to order a turkey roaster (a great option for a small apartment, or those in need of a second oven the day-of), instant-read thermometer, and gravy separator.

3. A lot of the flavor of gravy comes from the way you season your turkey, but if you haven’t added enough salt or spices to the bird, it may result in bland gravy. If this is the case, add a dollop of miso to your gravy for a depth of umami-rich flavor.

4. Plan you timeline & schedule thoroughly, to get the most out of the day-of. Now that we’re almost exactly a week out, now is the time to tidy your home and make things like pie dough ahead of time. Here’s the timeline I follow each year.

5.  Planning and executing a Thanksgiving dinner can be stressful—but don’t forget to enjoy it!  Each year one of the girls creates a momento so we can remember the day all year long.  It often involves some form of ClipArt, but most importantly, lists out each person’s contribution to the menu along the lines of “Ashley’s T D Survival Cocktail.” I’m instantly transported to the meal each time I look at one from a past year. And, as usual, mucho humor with my cooking-challenged gang!

6. Provide guests with recycled to-go boxes, so they can enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers the next day! (I also love these printable pie slice holders.)


1. As a guest, consider bringing a post-dinner digestif rather than a bottle of wine (chances are they already have plenty). Bon Appetit recommends Varnelli Amaro Dell’Erborista, or you can go for a classic brandy which feels appropriately festive.

2. I always appreciate a guest who brings a gift I can enjoy the next morning, like muffins or jam and bread (best eaten before tackling that pile of dish from the night before).

3. On the big day, the hosts’ laser-focus will be on dinner—and between tastes of dressing, cornbread, and pie it isn’t unreasonable for them to forget the rest of the family may need a small lunch. Be the one who remembers, and offer to bring a small salad (so that you don’t ruin everyone’s appetites). Here’s how to make sure your salad arrives fresh:

1. Wrap washed and dried salad greens in a dish towel.
2. Pack each component (dressing, croutons, etc.) in ziptop bags or jars.
3. Store and carry in the same bowl you’ll serve in.
4. Assemble just before serving.

4. Don’t forget what the holiday’s all about! As a guest, write “thankful” notes instead of “thank you” notes after the dinner—thanking your host not just for the beautiful turkey, but also for all the reasons you appreciate them.

I’m sending everyone lots of warm holiday thoughts and stretch pant wishes!  Have fun and enjoy!

xoxo, Rosanna
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