9 Hilarious, Messy, and Totally Unforgettable Thanksgiving Mishaps

raw Thanksgiving turkey on the counter

At Thanksgiving we gather the family – even the ones who don’t get along – for a feast featuring recipes we only cook once a year, served on picture-perfect table settings. No pressure. Is it any wonder disaster stories abound? We asked readers for their funniest, most memorable (and messy) mishaps, and found that most fell into three main categories:


A Too-Big Bird
“My brother-in-law forgot to take the turkey out of the freezer in time. He was told that his best hope of speeding up the thaw was to fill the bathtub with warm water and sit the turkey in it. My sister walks into the bathroom a couple hours later and discovers the turkey [still in] its wrapping, submerged in the tub. I think they had pizza for Thanksgiving.” – Rachel K., New York City

“The first time I cooked the 23-pound turkey on my own for the entire extended family, Mom wrote out painstaking directions. The last one was, ‘Whatever you do, don’t cook the turkey upside down.’ Up to that point, I figured there was only one logical way to cook the turkey, but why would she have mentioned this? I psyched myself out and, you guessed it, flipped the bird and cooked it upside down. It didn't brown, the juices ran the wrong way, the whole thing was a disaster.” – Betsy R., White Plains, New York

“All holidays were a big affair; Thanksgiving was no different. When the turkey was cooked, one of the servants (yes, they had servants!) brought it out, proudly parading it for all to see before taking it back to the kitchen to be carved. A slight misstep and – whoops! – the turkey slides off the platter and hits the floor. Without missing a beat, my grandfather says, ‘That's OK Mary, just go to the kitchen and get the second turkey.’” – Melissa L., Rochester, New York

Four-Footed Guests
“I bought three pounds of shrimp and made an amazing from-scratch remoulade sauce. Carefully poached [the shrimp] to perfection and spread them out on a tray and put them outside on the deck railing to cool. A few minutes later, I look out the sliding door, and there's a huge raccoon sitting on the railing going to town on my shrimp! [He] even shelled them before eating them, and left shells and tails all over the deck.” – Stacey M., Old Bridge, New Jersey

“We were all in the living room chatting and having drinks. Our Weimaraner, a stealthy and sneaky dog, quietly grabbed the cooling turkey and took it to the laundry room to devour. We thawed frozen steaks in the microwave and had them with all the traditional Turkey Day sides.” – Garrett M., Sacramento, California

“A very dear friend had two pumpkin pies cooling off in a spare bedroom. The family had a cat, who decided to take a walk through the pies. She didn't see the footprints until it was time to serve the pies, so she opted for the obvious solution – she topped both pies with a layer of whipped cream and the holiday guests were none the wiser.” – Diane Z., Cleveland, Ohio

Plumbing Problems
“I spent one Thanksgiving at my college roommate's huge family gathering and there was an epic plumbing disaster that left the house with no working toilet. Since you can't get a plumber on Thanksgiving, they still had the very fancy huge dinner, and everyone had to pee outside in the yard.” – Stacey M., Old Bridge, New Jersey

“Mom was hosting all of my father's family, about 30 people. My eldest cousin was asked to peel potatoes. After peeling, he put 5 pounds’ worth of peels down Mom's brand new [garbage] disposal. Of course the sink backed up, the pipe burst and flooded the kitchen. Somehow she still managed to finish cooking the meal, and we ate only about an hour late. The real mess, however, was after the meal. Cooking pans and utensils, dishes, and glasses. For 30 [people]. We had to take turns washing dishes in the bathtub, on our knees, scrubbing turkey fat out of the roasting pan.” – Brenna F., New York City

“I'd put the baby down for a nap in the middle of our king-sized bed (as was our standard practice), in the room above the kitchen. I rushed back downstairs to attend to our turkey, which was just refusing to be cooked. In the chaos of the kitchen I noticed a huge flood coming out from under the sink — the garbage disposal had cracked and sludge and water was pouring out. While on my hands and knees with my head under the counter trying to sort out the mess, I heard a horrible thud from above, followed by hysterical sobbing. I rushed upstairs in a panic to find the baby on the floor, thankfully unharmed, but mighty upset. And that was how we learned that the baby could roll.” – Sara R., Castro Valley, California

What’s your family’s most legendary Thanksgiving disaster?

Debbie Koenig writes about family and food, and is the author of the cookbook Parents Need to Eat Too. Find her at http://debbiekoenig.com.

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