Your Last Minute Guide To Everything Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is mere hours away, which is no big sweat to you because your turkey has been thawing for days, you have sides prepped and ready to go in the fridge, pie crusts are rolled out and waiting for their fillings, seating charts have been arranged, and now all that's left to do is wait for your guests to arrive and tell you how great you are, you incredible Thanksgiving goddess you. Unless, of course, you've done absolutely nothing to get ready until, um, right now, and you're scrambling to pull off a few last minute Thanksgiving preparations that, at the moment, seem more or less impossible. As a world-class procrastinator myself, I've got you covered. From last minute Thanksgiving side dish recipes to easy dessert ideas and interesting ways to keep your guests entertained while you're waiting for the bird to cook, I've compiled a go-to list to help you salvage your Thanksgiving without going completely insane. Go ahead. Take a deep breath. It's going to be OK.

The important thing to remember about Thanksgiving is that even if it's just you and a couple of friends sitting in a cramped apartment drinking pumpkin beer and eating pizza, you're going to have a good time. Thanksgiving is really just a perfect excuse to be with the people you love, and while there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to turn it into a huge affair with three different types of poultry, mountains of stuffing, and a whole room devoted to pie, know that even if you just decide to whip up some instant mashed potatoes, gorge on pumpkin pie you bought at the store, and host a Netflix marathon rather than a huge sit-down dinner, that's totally fine, too.

First up, the main course:

Cooking a turkey seems like one of those mega-intimidating things only grownups do, but I need you to believe me when I say it's really not as bad as you think. Add in a few untraditional twists — like deep frying your bird with Sriracha — and you've got a Thanksgiving centerpiece that truly steals the show. Accidentally overcook the turkey? Not enough room in your teeny tiny super small studio apartment to even get the turkey to your oven? Not to worry — we have alternative solutions for that, and more.

And then, the sides:

I'm not saying side dishes make or break your Thanksgiving dinner, but they are pretty important. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say you could have a Thanksgiving dinner made entirely of sides and people would be pretty darn happy. So bring on the heaping helpings of green bean casserole and cranberry sauce, because no matter what you're craving, we've got a recipe for you, right here.

Throw in some truly delicious vegetarian options:

Not into meat? Not a problem. Not into butter or broth, either? Still not a problem. From vegan-friendly sides to an entire vegetarian-friendly menu, we have everything you need to make this the best turkey-free Thanksgiving dinner, ever.

Don't forget dessert:

Desserts are the real showstoppers when it comes to Thanksgiving, and there's no reason why you shouldn't have it all. Sure, you've got your classics like pumpkin and pecan pie, but why not do something really crazy this year? From apple pie ice cream cones to pumpkin chia seed custards, there's a recipe here for everyone.

Keep everyone entertained while the turkey is cooking:

Yes, food takes priority, but honestly, after careful hours of preparation, my family tends to blow through dinner in about 20 minutes (that factors in the time it takes to go back for seconds). If you're hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year, it's probably good to have a few backup activities planned to make sure no one gets restless, even for a second.

If you're in the mood to decorate:

This isn't the holidays just yet, OK? No need to break out the twinkle lights and the plastic Christmas trees and turn your house into Santa's freaking workshop. But if you are feeling festive, there are a few ways you can decorate without going total winter wonderland.

A few last minute travel tips:

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Traveling on Thanksgiving is a necessary evil. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. But don't let it ruin your entire holiday weekend. Here are a few travel hacks to help make your life a little easier.

And finally...

... here's one last must-read for those of you planning to do Thanksgiving in a BIG way this year: How to eat more than one Thanksgiving dinner because yes, you need a plan

Or you know, just avoid Thanksgiving altogether this year. No judgement.

Images: catbeurnier, 1 Fine Cookie /Flickr; The Shiksa in the Kitchen; How Sweet Eats; Green Kitchen Stories; The Kitchn; Getty Images