It's that time of year again - time to gather with friends and family, turn on some football, put away the bathroom scale, and pig out like you haven't since… well… last Thanksgiving. This year, instead of just shoveling food that someone else cooked into your mouth, we suggest that you take a whack at preparing the meal yourself.

All by myself? Don't wanna cook... all by myyyysellllllf. It's time that you tackled the hosting of a holiday event. After all, cooking can be fun, rewarding, and tasty. It's time to take on some responsibility anyway. And you're getting old.

Since you're reading this, we assume that you're not exactly Julia Child (which is a good thing). So we're going to adopt a "Thanksgiving For Dummies" approach, replete with easy shortcuts (ready-made piecrust, anyone?) that will make life easier for novice chefs. So break out the apron and get ready to make like a Pilgrim. Minus the buckle hat. And the small pox.


If you think your guests will let you get away with slapping together whatever you happen to have in the fridge, think again. Thanksgiving dinners require a lot of planning in advance and at least a couple of trips to the supermarket. (Maybe one, if you bring along your strapping man-servant or wench.)

Here's an itinerary that'll be useful to you when planning your Thanksgiving feast. Print it out and tie it to your wrist.

  1. As soon as you decide to host a dinner: Make up a guest list and invite your guests. Make sure you don't go overboard and invite more people than you can afford to feed. (Your best friend? Good. Your best friend's psychic's cousin-in-law? Bad.) We suggest that you invite people via a friendly phone call so that you can get an instant yes or no.

  2. One week before: Do your shopping now. If you wait until the last couple of days, all the decent-sized turkeys will be gone and you'll either have to settle for a sickly one or be forced to fool your guests with a giant chicken. Buy all the ingredients listed for the recipes in Step 2, Step 3, and Step 4, and stick the turkey in the coldest part of your freezer.

    At this point, you should also make sure that you have all the necessary cooking equipment. Besides the usual assortment of pots and pans, you should get your hands on a cheese grater, a strainer, an electric mixer, and various sized mixing bowls and baking dishes.

  3. Three days before: Do a massive cleaning job on your fridge-you're going to need the room. This is also when you defrost the turkey. For a full description on how to cook the bird, read Step 2.

  4. One day before: This is when you prepare all of your side dishes and pies. Unless you have more than one oven, you might not have the room to bake any think with the turkey at the same time. This also gives you more time to schmooze with your guests tomorrow. This is also the day to get dinner rolls, salad, drinks, ice, napkins, and flowers.

  5. The big day!: Start preparing the rest of the food (especially the turkey) around noon, set the table, serve the meal, and take all of the credit for the wonderful meal. Eat too much, feel sick, and collapse on the couch in a big fat ball.