So, you’ve hit an age where you might be ready to embark on hosting your first solo Thanksgiving dinner, sans the help of mom and dad, huh? Whipping up a traditional meal may seem daunting (be honest: You’ve probably never used a turkey baster before, ever.) If there’s one person in this world that can help you though, it’s the be-all-and-end-all of Thanksgiving planning, Martha Stewart.
Her ultimate advice if you’re doing Thanksgiving dinner for the first time is to keep it “simple but elegant…Delicious food. Practice if you have to.”
Here, her top five tips for pulling off your first Thanksgiving with aplomb.
Shop early for staples.
“Shop for all the staples as far ahead as possible,” Stewart advises. “Nonperishables can be purchased the weekend before. The rest should be purchased on Tuesday morning.”
Start cooking a few days out.
Don’t wait till Thanksgiving day to hit the kitchen, that’s about as big of a rookie mistake as you can make. Stewart says to make certain sides ahead of time, like cranberry sauce, which can hold for several days in the refrigerator. Other things that can be made ahead include pie crusts, biscuits, gravy, and certain desserts. Leave the day-of for the turkey, stuffing, and vegetables.
Don’t forget how much time your turkey will need to defrost.
Getting a turkey ready to hit the oven takes an awful lot of time. If you purchase a frozen turkey, it’ll need to defrost in your refrigerator one full day for every five pounds of bird.
Cook your turkey in parchment.
Wonder how Stewart chooses to cook her turkey? Apparently she’s a big fan of using parchment paper. Head here for her go-to roasted turkey recipe.
Keep the extras—including the drinks—simple.
“When hosting your first Thanksgiving, you may want to stick to wine or [serve] just one cocktail so it isn’t overwhelming,” Stewart advises. The same goes for the table decor, and anything extra that might add to your stress load. Your guests will care more about being together than about the color napkins you put out.