Be Thankful: The Happy Hostess Has Your Thanksgiving Plan

Whenever my mom and I host Thanksgiving, Mom will call me at the beginning of November to establish a game plan. The conversation is always the same:

Mom: I cannot believe Thanksgiving is three weeks away.

Me: I know. I haven’t even started thinking about Christmas gifts yet.

Mom: Let’s not think about Christmas. What should we serve for Thanksgiving this year?

Me: How about trying something new? I was thinking about [insert something nontraditional].

Mom: That sounds great, but you know everyone will want a turkey. Should we do both?

Me: No, that would be so much food, and they wouldn’t really go together. You’re right. Let’s stick to the usual. We can experiment at Christmas.

Jump with me for a fool-proof Thanksgiving dinner plan.

Pear, hazelnut, and dark chocolate mini cakes. Mushroom and thyme dressing.
photography by Tiffany Rose/Wire Image

Our family is super traditional when it comes to the Thanksgiving menu. I think this is because no one has had ‘holiday food’ since Christmas, so we are dying to have it all at once. We stuff ourselves with 20 different dishes that have made it onto the Thanksgiving table since the ’80s. By the time Christmas rolls around, we’ve finally downed the last of the leftovers, and everyone is so sick of holiday food that they are ready to experiment. But, for now, it’s time to produce some stellar holiday classics. Here is a step-by-step plan to throw your own classically delicious Thanksgiving feast at home.

The spread. Sweet potato gratin with rosemary and garlic.
photography by Tiffany Rose/Wire Image

Roast turkey with gravy

Orange and pecan cranberry sauce

Bacon-wrapped green beans

Sweet potato gratin

Mushroom & thyme dressing

Pear, hazelnut, and dark chocolate mini cakes

Citrus and pecan cranberry sauce. Bacon-wrapped green beans.
photography by Elizabeth Lavin


  Make cranberry sauce

  Butcher and marinate turkey

  Wrap green beans



Slice sweet potatoes for gratin

Cube bread and slice mushrooms for dressing

Bake mini cakes

Tidy the house and set the table



9 a.m. Bake dressing and sweet potatoes

10:15 Roast turkey and green beans.

12:00 Make gravy

12:15 Warm all the fixin’s in a low oven.

1:00 Lunch is served

3:00 Food coma

Click here to download a pdf of all the recipes. (Scaled to feed 6-8 people.)

  • If cooking your own turkey completely stresses you out, don’t do it! Carol has tracked down places to pre-order your turkey, cooked or not.
  • Buy the chocolate sauce instead of making it.
  • Ask your guests to contribute a dish. Just make sure to ask them what they are bringing so you do not end up with 5 casserole dishes full of sweet potatoes.


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