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.
- First, get yourself to the grocery store. Here are 32 things to put on your Thanksgiving shopping list, because otherwise you will forget
- Then, get creative. This deep-fried Sriracha turkey is the thing Thanksgiving dreams are made of
- Not sure what to do once you get your bird home? Here's a first timer's guide to roasting a turkey
- Cooking in your dorm's itty bitty kitchen? Here are 8 cheap and easy Thanksgiving recipes to make your college Friendsgiving taste expensive
- For those of you brave souls trying to go the healthy route this year, check out 10 light Thanksgiving recipes to help keep that food hangover at bay
- And finally, here are 6 last minute Thanksgiving recipes for when you overcook the turkey, because hey, accidents happen
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.
- To start out, let's take a look at those side dishes ranked, so you know exactly what you're dealing with
- You'll definitely be thankful for these 8 Thanksgiving dinner game changers. Go ahead — stuff your sweet potatoes with bacon
- Forgo the canned stuff this year, and check out 12 homemade cranberry recipes that are way more satisfying
- Turn your ordinary Thanksgiving into a drool-worthy Cheesegiving using these 11 cheesy recipes sure to make this the best Thanksgiving ever
- Here are 12 untraditional sweet potato recipes perfect for Thanksgiving, or any time of year for that matter...
- ... and 10 easy gravy recipes to perfectly finish off your Thanksgiving dinner
- Finally, for those of you really in a pinch, here are 11 last minute Thanksgiving recipes that'll taste like you had everything under control
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.
- Planning an entire meatless meal? Here's how to have a vegetarian Thanksgiving that's as coma-inducing as the traditional feast
- For those of you sick and tired of tofurkey, here are 11 vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes to try instead
- You don't need a turkey to have stuffing. Here are 10 vegan stuffings that prove chicken broth is overrated
- And last but not least, here are 6 vegan mashed potato recipes that show butter and cream are for wusses
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.
- Let's start with the crazy. Here are 7 new ways to eat pie that will blow your mind, starting with apple pie ice cream cones
- And then there are those pies that are just as amazing to look at as they are to eat — 10 Thanksgiving pie crusts that are truly delicious works of art
- Here are 12 easy pies to make this Thanksgiving when you have nothing to prove...
- ... and 11 Thanksgiving pies to bake if you have everything to prove
- These 12 Thanksgiving desserts aren't pumpkin pie, but they are still just as amazing
- If you're looking for something more traditional, here are 3 easy pecan pie recipes too simple to mess up this Thanksgiving
- Looking for a new way to eat a Thanksgiving favorite? You have to try these 11 mind-blowing pumpkin pie variations
- Don't let your pie get lonely. Check out these 9 genius pie toppings because ice cream is so last Thanksgiving
- And in case you need more convincing to indulge this holiday season, here are a few reasons why pie is the greatest thing to happen to Thanksgiving, explained by pie charts
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.
- Your peace of mind is important to us. If you're hosting dinner for the first time, here's how to have Thanksgiving in a small apartment without going completely insane
- Having Thanksgiving for two? Here's how to make the perfect feast when you're not expecting 20 guests
- Chances are, your relatives are going to want to catch up with you (ugh, I know). Here's a complete guide to sharing major life news with your family
- Looking for something fun to do while you wait for food to cook? Watch the National Dog Show, and turn it into a family drinking game
- Here's how to do Thanksgiving on Instagram, because not all turkey filters are created equal
- And here's how to keep your friends from falling asleep on the couch this Thanksgiving, because seriously how annoying
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.
- Feeling silly? Here are 9 Thanksgiving decorations so ridiculous you can't help but love them anyway
- Or class things up a bit with 9 pretty Thanksgiving decorations that are anything but cheesy
- Learn how to set a holiday table like a pro and never again wonder which glass is yours
A few last minute travel tips:
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.
- First, check out America's best and worst airports for flight delays, ranked just in time for the holiday season, and then hope to the high heavens the one you're flying out of didn't make the worst list
- Here are 12 things you should pack in your carry-on bag to make holiday travel a little easier
- If your flight does get delayed, here's what to do when you're stuck at the airport, because yes, it really does suck
... 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