Okay, you've got this. You're prepared with a Thanksgiving day timeline, you know exactly how you're going to set your table, which cocktails to serve and you know which restaurants are taking reservations in case things don't go quite the way you planned.
Need a little more help? Thanks to a few of the best chefs in the South (and Southern Kitchen staff), you have expert advice on how to make sure that this Thanksgiving is delicious and stress-free.
Planning ahead is essential
"I find that the most important thing to keep in mind when minimizing stress is thorough planning. Map out your menu at least a couple of weeks in advance. That way, you can plot which items are going to be cooked in the oven, on the range, or outside on the grill or in a deep fryer. Next, make multiple grocery lists. This sounds redundant and repetitive, but hear me out. Most supermarkets morph into Thunderdome in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. If you have storage space, buy all the nonperishable items you know you'll need for Turkey Day at least two weeks before." – Jeffrey Gardner, Southern Kitchen's resident chef
Split the work
"Everyone that comes has assigned to them at least two dishes that they must bring potluck-style. That way no one person has to do all of the cooking and it’s also more fair that way." – Chef Dan Blumenthal, BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar in Jackson, MS
Don't get overwhelmed
"When it comes down to that last 30 minutes before dinner is served, try not to get frazzled. Don't worry about serving some dishes room temperature. Vegetable sides and casseroles will actually be just fine served warm-ish, and even your turkey will be perfectly good if it has to sit for a bit after carving. Just get your gravy piping hot and make sure to pass around the wine." – Kate Williams, Southern Kitchen's Editor-in-Chief
Remember that you are in charge
"I find hosting at your house, 'the chef's house,' brings efficiency without doing anything. You're familiar with your surroundings and oven, etc. We also make sure we plan early. Everyone knows what they're responsible for not a couple days before, but at least week and a half before. I make a couple things early that hold well, including a cranberry orange relish that cuts the fat of the whole meal very well. I very often go to the store and buy a few turkey wings and necks to make a stock and then make the gravy prior to the meal instead of using turkey drippings. I think most importantly we have plenty of delicious wine to cut the edge and the stress off what unfortunately can be a very stressful day for people." – Chef Billy Allin, Bread & Butterfly Restaurant in Atlanta, GA
"In the stress of the day it is so easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down with the details. Remember how lucky you are to have family and friends to spend this day with. Take a moment during the preparations to really sit back and enjoy the moment, no matter how crazy. Look around the table at everyone gathered and feel grateful. Make sure everyone has a bit of time to say what they're thankful for. These are the moments that make up a life." – Ryan Hughley, Southern Kitchen's Associate Editor