Tips to Plan a Five-Star Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is all about abundance. It’s a time when Americans pull out the stops to celebrate everything they have to be thankful for with a big, delicious meal that will leave everyone at the table saying “Wow!”

This year, with an incredible variety of convenient resources available, ideas and inspiration are also in abundance to help you create an unforgettable feast, whether you’re hosting your very first Thanksgiving or your 50th.

“I love preparing for the Thanksgiving feast as much as I love actually eating it. I’m all about finding recipes I trust and figuring out ways to get as much done as possible before my family arrives, so it’s effortless and simple to throw the finishing touches together,” says Molly Yeh, whose photography and popular musings on easy cooking ideas and adventures from the farm have been featured in Food & Wine, Fresh Style and Saveur. “Like me, most people turn to blogs or Pinterest and informational websites for their Thanksgiving inspiration. These days, there’s no need to spend your holiday tied up on a help hotline. You don’t have to look far to find easy, creative ways to make this the best Thanksgiving yet.”

Starting with the meal’s iconic centerpiece – a delicious Thanksgiving turkey – these tips, ideas and resources make hosting so easy that even first-time cooks will feel like five-star chefs.

Simplify with no-fuss ingredients  

Semi-homemade ingredients can add to the ease of meal preparation and free you up to spend more time with family and friends. Jazz up pre-made mashed potatoes from your grocer’s refrigerated section by adding a teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary and stirring in creamy Country Crock butter. Add a few custom touches to pre-washed bagged salad mix such as blue cheese crumbles, sliced red onion and bite-sized pears and serve with balsamic vinaigrette dressing for a no-fuss dish with big flavors.

Modern sophistication

If contemporary cuisine is your style, switch out traditional meal elements with more modern versions. Instead of baked sweet potatoes, make a rustic vegetable tart using chopped sweet potatoes, onions and other farm-fresh veggies wrapped in a delicious crust of frozen pre-made puff pastry.

Easy regional cuisine

Regional American cuisines are among the top four “Hot Trends” this year, according to the National Restaurant Association. Give Thanksgiving an easy Tex-Mex twist by making a Southwestern turkey rub using chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper. If seasoning rubs are new to you, an easy how-to video is just a click away. Round out your dinner theme with cornbread dressing made with diced green chilies and spicy pepperoni.  

Gluten-free Thanksgiving goodness

About one in four Americans feels that a gluten-free menu is good for everyone, according to The NPD Group. Everyone at your table, even those with special diets, can enjoy holiday flavors with a delicious gluten-free menu featuring roasted turkey, honey-and-bacon Brussels sprouts, quinoa stuffing with sweet potatoes and honey cranberry sauce.  

A simple solution for tender, perfectly cooked turkey

The turkey is the star of your Thanksgiving show, so go for a simple, convenient solution like JENNIE-O OVEN READY Turkey – a turkey that goes directly from your freezer to oven with no thawing, less mess and a perfect result every time. With OVEN READY Turkey, hosts can be confident they’ll impress their guests with a tender, perfectly seasoned turkey, allowing them to focus on other elements of the meal, from creative side dishes to tantalizing desserts, or simply enjoy hosting company.

Dazzle them with desserts

Create a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach with simple desserts presented in elegant new ways. Make apple carrot cake cupcakes or individual mini pumpkin cheesecakes and serve them on a beautiful glass pedestal platter. Even a store-bought dessert can make mouths water if it’s placed on a gorgeous serving plate.

Add some sparkle

Make your meal – and your guests – truly sparkle by serving delicious cranberry sparkler drinks. Combine two cups cranberry juice cocktail and two cups orange juice with a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine and let the celebration begin.

Go online to get started

For more inspiration, visit the new “Holiday Table” section on – a one-stop destination for entertaining ideas to make any home cook’s efforts shine without adding extra hours in the kitchen, including inspirational menus and recipes, plus tips, how-to videos and more.

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