How to Pull Off Thanksgiving in 24 Hours with One Oven
Updated: Apr 2
It's the day before Thanksgiving. Cue panicked laughter.
So last year, my husband and I had been on a two-week vacation abroad and landed back in the states the day before Thanksgiving. Our families were supposed to arrive that night and show me all their traditions (and cook the turkey). We found out, as the plane touched down, that they would be having Thanksgiving with our grandmas instead. So, we had some hard hustling to do.
The powers of the universe aligned and we got back, threw together a grocery list and found a small turkey. I did, in fact, manage to prep and pull off Thanksgiving at the last minute. I want to share it with you, in case you've found yourself in a sticky situation and need to, too.
Simple steps to pull off Thanksgiving
Tackle the challenge in stages — the evening before, the day of, and the table decoration.
The Evening Before
Decide what you want to cook — scroll through Pinterest, reminisce on old favorite dishes, and be realistic about quantity. If you want to use the recipes for dishes I cooked, keep scrolling.
Check condiments in house/fridge so you don't leave any ingredients out or buy extra.
Make a grocery list. If I'm being totally honest, in our situation, Chris drove to the store and I made the list in the car. I love the app, Wunderlist — life-changing checklist app you’ll wish was in your life earlier. See my grocery list below.
This is what we bought the eve before and morning of. We didn't buy a few of the ingredients because we had them at home: olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the salad; cinnamon sticks and sugar for the cranberry sauce; flour for the gravy; coconut sugar for the mashed sweet potato (although regular can be used); salt and pepper, and all the spices.
Visit the grocery store with list in hand. Don't allow the people rushing around to overwhelm you. Besides, the stores are on your side — they've grouped ‘need to buy’ items and isolated the mass panic. ONLY BUY WHAT’S ON LIST. Of course, we diverted, but you shall not.
Once back home, don't unpack and casually fall asleep watching movies on the sofa, doing zero prep for tomorrow. Or do—we survived without making the Sangria or any pies— but if we had made them the night before, it would surely have been easier.
The Day of
Disclaimer: Most of the recipes included came from a Pinterest/parent-source/can-label and were adapted to suit our needs/preferences.
One. Review menu and prep time needed for each dish
Review recipes and times needed to prep certain dishes and how to share oven time.
This was the menu we settled on for the day:
Two. Make a Timeline for the day
Make a timeline for all to view what needs to be prepped at what time and go in the oven when. I cooked a smaller turkey than usual, so if you are cooking a massive family feast, the times might be different, but for our size, these worked perfectly.
We have a handy whiteboard in the kitchen (our monthly calendar, which was quickly wiped clean) to create a timeline for the day. Game. changer.
Bump up or push down my allotted times depending on when you're able to start.
Three. Get cooking
Here are the recipes I used—crush it like we did. I made them as cards to screenshot.
We had a lot of food leftover from Thanksgiving and the thought of eating the same meal over and over for a week is somewhat sickening. Click here for five moreish recipes that will use up your leftovers and present interesting, tasty dishes for you to enjoy for a few days.
I usually use what I have and look to Pinterest for inspiration. You might have items like a tablecloth, napkins, twine, and wrapping paper at home. Simple pieces can be bought, like herbs/pinecones, candles, pumpkins, and spray paint.
For table decor ideas, click here.
Simple decor ideas:
- Tying herbs around napkins and candles is a simple, fragrant, decoration solution
- Use ribbon or twine — for a rustic feel — to tie/hold pieces together
- Spray painting store-bought pumpkins can add some glitz and glam
- Brown paper or printed wrapping paper can work well for a table runner or placemats
- Scattering colorful leaves or tying them to pumpkin stalks can brighten a tablescape
- Off-cuts of fabrics can be cut in simple shapes, such as leaves, and tied together to form a garland
- Add candles to table — tall or thick candles are great scattered along the center, while tea light candles can be scattered across the length of the table or be put into mini pumpkins
You've done it, congratulations!
Now, as you tuck in, let's take a moment to give thanks.
What are you thankful for?
Take some time to reflect on what you're grateful for today that you couldn't imagine tomorrow without—share it with friends and family.
How fabulous would it be if we'd carry the gratitude and appreciative reflection with us after Thanksgiving day—challenge?
Happy Thanksgiving, friends.