How To Host An Incredible Thanksgiving Without Losing Your Mind

Advice and strategies from experts who know how to serve a crowd.

Photo by Iain Bagwell/Getty Images

The shopping, the chopping, the cooking, the serving. You feed a crowd a couple times a year—but chefs and caterers do it almost every night of the week. So who better to ask for advice about throwing a holiday feast? Here, a few of our favorite hosts weigh in with clever strategies to get you through Thanksgiving with minimal stress and maximum pleasure.

Renee Erickson

James Beard-nominated chef-owner of The Whale Wins, Boat Street Café, The Walrus and the Carpenter, and Barnacle—all in Seattle, WA—and author of the new cookbook, “A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories.”

Prep: “One of my favorite side dishes is roasted Brussels sprouts with lemon and mint—but I always make sure to par boil the sprouts first. That’s because 1) undercooked Brussels sprouts are the worst. And 2) when you roast them afterwards the centers get so soft they’re like little creamed cabbages.”

Drinks: “Stick to sparkling wine—especially Vouvray from the Loire—and you can’t go wrong. For reds, gamay—which is the primary grape of Beaujolaisis a Thanksgiving classic. I especially love Morgon, which is a little richer than village-level Beaujolais, but still a great value.”

Dinner: “I really like cornbread stuffing. And it works especially well when you add a little spicy sausage—the texture and sweetness of the corn is such a nice counterpoint.”

Dessert: “Traditional Thanksgiving dishes are great because we eat them so rarely. Still, now and then it’s fun to switch things up a little. For instance, instead of pecan pie, sometimes I make a walnut version.”