After 5 or 6 years, I finally pulled off a stress-free, mess-free Thanksgiving dinner. Much was due to the tips I got from this community over the years (and, let's face it: Youtube!) and I thought I would share some of the time saving measures. FWIW, I "hosted" this at my parents' house, as Mom decided that she is finished being an unpaid cook, chauffeur, maid, housekeeper, and various other jobs related to being a SAHM. Besides, her turkey always came out dry as sawdust anyway.
1. I made the cranberry sauce--a chutney--more than a week ago.
2. Ditch the fine china with metallic rim for oven-to-table dishes.
3. Let a sibling set the table, even if the finished product would cause Mr. Carson to have a heart attack.
4. Let someone else bring the pie.
5. Spatchcock the turkey 2 days in advance. Wow. With the backbone and insides I also made the gravy 2 days in advance and I can't tell you how much this step is utterly brilliant. Roast the backbone & insides in the oven to eliminate splatter on the stovetop. Because then all the major mess is done and the turkey eventually cooks so quickly and evenly. Wowowowowowow.
6. The day before I made the make-ahead mashed potatoes. The advantage here is that one doesn't have to deal with potato peels on T-Day. Just put everything into an oven-safe dish and reheat it at the last minute.
7. Pillsbury crescents for dinner rolls. I am not a baker.
8. That's it. T-Day minus 3 hours take out the turkey and smear herbed butter under the skin before popping it into the oven. Put the various veggies into separate dishes and form the dinner rolls. Melt balsamic vinegar and brown sugar into a glaze and pour it over all the veggies. When the turkey is done--and it really didn't require basting--put all the sides into the oven to heat up. Reheat the gravy. Let the turkey rest and then carve it. Put the rolls into the oven. Bring everything to the table. Sit down. Remember the rolls. Bring them to the table. Drink copious amounts of wine.
PS - at the end of dinner walk into the kitchen and realize that because everything was prepped ahead of time, the only dirty dishes are a handful of spoons, 2 small saucepans, the turkey roasting dish, a carving knife, and cutting board. Wow.