How to nail your first-ever Thanksgiving turkey dinner

Oct 7 2019, 11:18 am

The countdown to Thanksgiving (and our next long weekend) is on, dear friends.

If you’re hosting your first-ever Friendsgiving dinner party, we’re here to help. We know it feels like a big deal, but with a little advance planning you can win at hosting and prepare a spread that your friends will be talking about for months to come (no exaggeration).

Canadian Rockwell/Think Turkey

This October is your chance to really make the occasion your own, bells and all. To help you get started, here’s everything you need to nail your first Thanksgiving turkey dinner. 

Put TLC into the menu

Thanksgiving dinner/Think Turkey

Let’s be real: most of us look forward all year to a Thanksgiving spread. That’s why you’ve got to cook your meal with love. Whether you’re a complete newbie or have done this before, a carefully crafted menu will have everyone raving for months to come. 

If you’re going the traditional route on the bird, we’re big fans of this Herb Roasted Turkey, or you can change up the flavours and do something like this Sesame Soy Turkey. If your oven is too small, try out spatchcocking or barbecuing for an equally impressive turkey. 

When it comes to the right size of turkey, a 10-12 pound bird is recommended to serve six to eight people with enough leftovers for the perfect turkey sandwich the next day. You can calculate how much to buy here if you have more or fewer friends around the table! 

And of course, when it comes to the side dishes and dessert, the possibilities are endless ⁠— you want to choose options you know your guests will be wanting more of. An incredible stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce are musts (homemade is great, but in the immortal words of Ina Garten, store bought is fine ⁠— we won’t tell) and from there, let your imagination run wild. 

Creamy garlic mashed potatoes, roasted caramelized Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, baked sweet potatoes, honey-drizzled roasted carrots, buttermilk cornbread, pumpkin pie… the list of options really goes on. Google and Pinterest are your friends for brainstorming!   

Pair drinks with the meal

Thanksgiving cocktails/Think Turkey

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner allows you to channel your inner wine connoisseur, mixologist, and master brewer.

Turkey pairs exceptionally well with Pinot Noir due to its low tannin content; meanwhile, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling elevate herby stuffing and sides. On the beer side, a Saison offers a fruity finish to complement the meal.

And if you want to do cocktails, keep it simple with a big batch option like this Pomegranate Apple Cider Sangria.

Capture each moment

Food/Shutterstock

Your first Thanksgiving party with friends should be one for the books, so don’t forget to capture the moments that matter. We’re talking about channeling your inner Gordon Ramsay and doing a cooking tutorial on your Instagram stories, showing your friends that you know what’s up in the kitchen. You’ll also want to take 50 photos until you get that perfectly “candid” group shot because if it’s not on Instagram, did it ever happen?

When you’ve followed all the tips for hosting like a pro, all that’s left to do is eat until your skinny jeans feel a little too skinny.

Looking for more turkey tips? ThinkTurkey.ca has you covered for everything from recipe inspiration (think Pumpkin Spice Turkey) to cooking advice.