How to host a smashing Thanksgiving party

Top tips to beat that familiar festive fret

Let’s face it – food is the centre of attention at Thanksgiving; the cooked-to-perfection turkey, deliciously crispy roast potatoes and scrumptious after-dinner sweet treat. Yet while clearing the festive plate may be easy, filling it can often prove more of a challenge. If the hosting baton has been passed over to you this year fear not, for we have handy tips to ensure the day is a splendid success. Trust us – next year you’ll be volunteering!

What you can do ahead of time

Turkey

Spinneys stocks fresh, free-range turkeys from New Zealand. Pick one up in our Motor City, Umm Suqeim, Town Centre or Al Forsan (Abu Dhabi) store and prep your bird the day before the party by either making a brine or herb and salt mix and leaving the flavours to infuse.

Sauces

Gravy can be made and frozen well in advance. On Thanksgiving, take the gravy out of the freezer once the turkey’s gone in the oven. While your bird’s resting, heat the gravy through and add any resting juices for an even more delicious flavour. Cranberry sauce can also be made from scratch and ahead of time, but there are plenty of store-bought options on offer to make life a little easier.

Desserts

Reaching into the freezer for pastry dough (either homemade or picked up in store) is a speedy route to a variety of classic Thanksgiving puddings, such as this pumpkin pecan pie. Ice cream is another good choice as it can be stored easily, is loved by little ones and works well as an accompaniment for a tart or crumble.

What you can do on the day

Turkey

Having prepared your bird the previous day, all that’s left to do is grab your herb butter and massage it under the skin before you pop the turkey in the oven – now’s your time to get cracking on all the lovely sides and extras. If your Thanksgiving is going to be a vegetarian affair, this spiced bulgur pilaf stuffing makes for an excellent, substantial switch.

Roasties

While your turkey’s roasting (or out of the oven resting), try your hand at this winning recipe for roast potatoes, all golden on the outside from goose fat and a pinch of cumin. If you’re looking for something that’s faster to prepare (but no less tasty), 20 minutes is all it takes to make and pile these sautéed potatoes onto plates.

Sides

Vegetables can easily be prepped in the morning ready to cook when the time comes; we like giving our sides an extra fancy touch – hazelnut and lemon buttered greens, for instance. If you want to jazz things up even further, try spiced red cabbage with cherries, a sure crowd-pleaser.

Special little touches

Play some after-dinner games

Try the ‘I am thankful for’ game – the first player starts by saying what they are thankful for, and the next person must repeat then add their own; this goes round the table until the list becomes so long that one player cannot remember the order. The winner is the last person to remember everything that’s been said.

Get creative

Add a personal touch by making fun place name cards and labelling the dishes – this will help avoid any confusion over where to sit or what to eat. And the icing on the cake? Give your guests something they can take home with them, like these sweet potato cookies; they’re seriously yummy and can be made in advance and tucked away for safekeeping.

Use leftovers for next week’s dinners

These fuss-free turkey quesadillas are a quick and easy meal to make the following day, while roasted vegetable soup with crispy cannellini beans is a tasty way to use up any veggies. Or, make a cheese fondue but replace the bread with any remaining potatoes – because who says the indulgence needs to end on the 24th?

For lots more fun ideas for Thanksgiving, click here.