7 Last-Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

Tips and tricks for a seamless Thanksgiving dinner

Whether you’re hosting the big event or arriving as a guest, we’ve compiled our most helpful tips for a memorable, stress-free Thanksgiving dinner.

1. In search of a last-minute hostess gift? Choose something that will give your host the chance to relax after all of their hard work. Ingredients for a favourite cocktail or mixed drink, a bottle of wine or spirits, breakfast pastries for the following morning from a local bakery, freshly roasted coffee beans or loose leaf tea are all gift ideas which offer comfort without taking up valuable kitchen space.

2. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, ask guests to bring items for a local charity drive in lieu of a hostess gift. Winter coats, blankets, sleeping bags, clothing, unopened toiletries, and non-perishable food items are in high demand, especially during the colder months.

3. Unexpected guests? Don’t panic! There are several ways to accommodate extra guests without having to buy more food:

  • Present Thanksgiving as a buffet versus a sit-down dinner — this encourages guests to sit where they please and prevents an over-crowded table.
  • Get creative with appetizers from the pantry. Arrange pretzels, dried fruit, olives, pickles, cheese and crackers in pretty serving dishes along with the planned appetizers. If you have the time, flavoured popcorn is both a crowd pleasing and economical option and can be assembled in less than 10 minutes. For pre-dinner snacking, we love our vegan nacho popcorn, parmesan-thyme popcorn and sweet-and-spicy wasabi snack mix.
  • Carve the turkey before serving, cutting large pieces in half to create the illusion of more food. Pile the carved poultry onto a platter and serve buffet-style.
  • Portion and slice desserts into smaller servings, this ensures that all your guests will be able to try one piece of each dessert without feeling deprived.
  • Making a pitcher or two of sangria is a fantastic way to stretch a bottle of wine (plus, it can be made ahead of time.) For Thanksgiving dinner, try whipping up a batch of our cherry and thyme sangria or winter-spiced pomegranate and clementine sangria.

4. Thinking about brining the turkey? While wet brining is often suggested for whole turkeys, it can be difficult to find a bucket or cooler large enough to store the bird, let alone a fridge or cold space to accommodate the brining turkey for a couple of days. Dry brining, which involves rubbing the skin of the turkey with salt and other seasonings, yields the same juicy results without the need for quite as much fridge space.

5. To speed up the cooking time for vegetables, cut them into small, uniform pieces before roasting, sauteing, steaming or boiling. To cut back on time in the oven, par-boil vegetables up to 2 days in advance and roast for a shorter time in a hot oven right before serving.

6. Don’t forget about your slow cooker! Not only can the humble slow cooker be used to make Thanksgiving classics like slow cooker butternut squash and sage stuffing, it can also be used to keep mashed potatoes, gravy, meatballs, cornbread, and other hot dishes warm for long periods of time without the use of a stove.

7. Avoid complicated recipes with long lists of ingredients if you’re short on time. For salad, make use of bagged lettuce or packets of spring mix, being sure to give them a good wash before dressing. If you aren’t a fan of baking, visit your local bakery for dinner rolls, pies, and other Thanksgiving desserts.