Preserving sanity should be the first and foremost goal on Thanksgiving Day. But that's not going to happen if you are running around the kitchen like a crazy person and obsessively worried about whether your guests are having a good time.
Go easy on yourself this year with this list of 20 time savers for the big day. We can't promise these shortcuts will ward off any Thanksgiving Day disasters, but at least you won't be a slave to the entire day.
1. Make it a potluck: Enlist friends and family to bring dishes or a dessert. After all, the first Thanksgiving dinner was potluck, am I right?
2. Wash and chop ahead: Vegetable sides and salads make up a large part of the dinner. Save yourself some time by prepping these fresh ingredients before the day of.
3. Bring back the buffet: A buffet-style Thanksgiving meal is a great choice if you prefer a laid-back, casual atmosphere over a formal dinner with multiple courses.
4. Measure ahead of time: Measuring out all the ingredients before you start cooking a particular dish cuts down on the hassle and time.
5. Save oven space: Utilize the Crock-Pot, pressure cooker, and stove-top in addition to the oven on the big day.
6. Know when to ask for help: The USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hot Line will be available to help with turkey trouble and food safety questions on Thanksgiving Day. Call (800) 535-4555.
7. Organize recipes: Create a folder with copies of your favorite recipes and the accompanying grocery shopping lists. That way each year you are ready to go.
8. Don't throw out the gravy: There's an easy remedy for burned gravy: Add sugar instead of starting all over.
9. Save precious refrigerator space: Use a beach cooler for drinks and save room for foods that must be chilled. That way you aren't constantly rearranging the fridge to make more room.
10. Roast stuffing outside the bird: Trust me, it cuts down on roasting time.
11. Make stuffing the day/night before: If you don't cook your stuffing inside the bird, there's no reason you can make it one day prior and re-heat the next day. Too dry? Moisten with good chicken stock or gravy.
12. Cut the turkey before cooking: Got a large bird? Cook legs and breasts separately, which will speed up the cooking process and ensure everything cooks thoroughly.
13. Opt for another turkey dish altogether: If you're not a turkey purist, why not try something with shorter cooking time -- like stuffed turkey rolls.
14. Make the cranberry sauce ahead: Cranberry sauce is something that gets better with age, so save yourself some time on the day of and make it a couple of days ahead of time.
15. Simplify the drinks menu: Pick one alcoholic beverage (if you drink) and one non-alcoholic beverage to serve. If guests want something else, they are welcome to bring their own!
16. Put the kids to work: Even if it's just setting the table or picking up their toys -- the little things count.
17. Don't be afraid of semi-homemade: Not everything has to be made from scratch. Channel your inner Sandra Lee and incorporate a few store-bought products -- frozen pie crusts or stuffing mix -- into your meal.
18. Make pies in advance: This is a no-brainer. Bake and freeze your pies in advance and you'll literally save yourself hours on Thanksgiving Day.
19. Skip baking altogether: There are perfectly delicious pies to be had at your local bakery. Why not give yourself a break this year?
20. DIY Drinks: Set up an area with drinks, glasses, ice, etc. That way guests can help themselves to drinks while you concentrate on the food and witty conversation.
How do you save time on Thanksgiving?
Image via Lane & Anne/Flickr