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Your Guide to a Foolproof Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner Without the Stress

A little bit of smart planning can make this meal one of the easiest―and most gratifying. 

By Renee Schettler
Turkey with Molasses ButterAmy Neunsinger


Three to Five Days Before 

  • Go grocery shopping.
  • Begin to defrost the turkey in the refrigerator, if necessary.
  • Call guests to reconfirm. (If they offer to bring something, say yes.)
  • Make the molasses butter for the turkey.
  • Combine the spices for the sweet potatoes.
  • Make the cranberry sauce.

Two Days Before

  • Tidy up the living room, the dining room, and the bathroom. Be prepared to steer guests clear of the rest of the house.

The Day Before

  • Rinse the greens and shake to remove any excess water. Remove the stems and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Refrigerate in resealable bags lined with paper towels.
  • Make the corn bread (if you're not buying it), then leave it out, uncovered, to dry overnight.
  • Toast the bread cubes for the dressing. Leave them out overnight.
  • Make and glaze the cake. Cover and refrigerate.
  • Set the table.
  • Designate a pot or skillet, a serving dish, and a utensil for each recipe and leave them on a counter.

Early in the Day

  • Fry the bacon for the butter beans.
  • Sauté the parsley mixture for the dressing.
  • Peel and cut the sweet potatoes and toss with the remaining ingredients.
  • Place a second oven rack beneath the roasting pan so the stuffing and sweet potatoes can bake in shifts.

While the Turkey Roasts

  • Change your clothes, then pour yourself a glass of wine.
  • Assemble the ingredients for the greens and the beans.
  • Make the biscuits, the beans, and the greens.
  • Designate a turkey carver.

While the Turkey Rests

  • Cover the cake with foil and warm it in the oven.
  • Mentally note your prime candidates for dishwashing duty.
  • Exhale and enjoy.


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Quick Tip

Aluminum foil and plastic wrap in a drawer

The flan can be baked up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate, loosely covered with plastic wrap. Unmold just before serving.