Thanksgiving

The final countdown: 5 last-minute Thanksgiving tips

Nov. 25, 2013 at 2:05 PM ET

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Tips
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Last-Minute Thanksgiving Tips

You'll be saying thanks for these last-minute Thanksgiving tips and tricks as the big day approaches:

Keep Your Turkey Moist with Lettuce

If you're cooking your turkey the day before (which those in warmer climates often do because a house full of people plus a hot stove is not fun) or you know you're going to have lots of leftovers, use this trick from food blog Simple Bites to keep the meat moist:

Line an ovenproof dish with iceberg lettuce, layer the sliced turkey, drizzle with stock and top with more lettuce. Cover the dish with foil, and reheat in the oven with the lettuce when you're ready. Result: A juicy turkey.

Downsize Your Bird

Have a last-minute cancellation? Don't want to tackle a whole turkey? Or just the two of you this year? Not a problem. Pick up some turkey breast or tenderloin and take it easy on yourself.

Don't Forget to Thaw

Remember, a 14-pound turkey takes four days to thaw in the refrigerator, so if you don't have the bird thawing yet, get to it! If you need to thaw quickly, put the bird in a clean bucket of cold water (warm water can be a safety hazard) and switch the water out every hour or so. It should take a 14-pound turkey about seven hours to thaw with this method.

Also, don't just throw a frozen turkey in the oven, you'll ruin it -- the inside will still be frozen and the outside burned. Yuck.

Rescue a Raw Turkey

You've cooked the whole bird (or so you thought), but it's still raw inside (use a thermometer to check the temperature—it should be 165 degrees). Fear not, this is fixable. Add a couple cups of water or wine to the pan, cover the turkey with tinfoil and turn your oven up to 450 degrees (don't go higher or you'll burn the bird). Check it in about 5-10 minutes—it should be done.

Commandeer the Kids' Table

Worried the little ones will be bored? Enlist their help (if they're old enough) with setting the table or handing out drinks and appetizers. And if you have a responsible teen or tween, put them in charge of wrangling the smaller kids.

As for picky eaters, don't fight 'em. If a kid wants to eat a whole plate of sweet potatoes for dinner, let him. Lastly, have some games or crafts on hand for the kids to play after the meal while the adults relax.

Tanya Edwards is a contributing writer for iVillage. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.

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