You know what the worst part of Thanksgiving is? (No, not "having" to spend time with family that you hate ... why would you say that?!) It's the days and hours spent gathering together all the necessary components that you'll need to make it a meal to remember. Slogging to store after store, trying to find all the ingredients you'll need, fighting with other bedraggled patrons over fancy napkins, and lugging a 10-lb. turkey home, over slippery, ice-encrusted sidewalks.
Well, have you heard about this thing called The Internet? You know, the thing you're using right now to read this. Man, it's great, isn't it? You can find anything on there. It's like you never have to leave your house, even as you search for everything you'll need to make your T-Day complete! Yup, Thanksgiving can be found online.
But, seriously. All joking about being a shut-in aside, this guide could also help the holiday-stressed, as well as you first-time Thanksgiving-givers. You know, you newlyweds who decided, "Let's have our families over to OUR place, this year, it'll be great!" without realizing that you don't have enough plates, or cookware, or serving trays, and you barely know where the grocery store is located. Good luck, you crazy kids!
Let's get this out of the way, right up front. After all, it's THE most important item of the entire day. It doesn't matter if you're all gathered around the oven (because you don't have chairs or plates) and picking meat off a still-cooling bird, it's still better than feting without a turkey. Otherwise, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday.
Omaha Steaks offers the pictured Oven Ready Whole Basted 10-lbs. Turkey ($49.99 with $17.99 s&h, a low by $12), and for around $7/pound, that's a bit more (to say the least) than you'd pay in the grocery store. But think of the convenience of not having to fight with others to "win" the honor of toting home a 10-lb. frozen-solid bird.
Unfortunately this year, Omaha Steaks doesn't bundle their turkey with a mess 'o side dishes (unless you opt for the turkey breast combo). If you balk at the notion of "classic dishes" (read: green bean casseroles), but say, "seconds, please!" to pureed whitefish, then you're better off; you're now free to put together your own assortment of the perfect sides.
Of course, we don't mean to gloss over the fact that Omaha Steaks does offer a bunch of classic side dishes (from $7.99) for you to choose from. We just didn't want to make this (so-far really informative) article into a commercial for Omaha Steaks; it's just that they have a good selection of food, at reasonable prices, and they are willing to deliver most anywhere in the country. So it's hard not to talk about them (and get hungry).
If you want to save a few bucks on Thanksgiving dinner, why not try the old, "Bring your favorite side dish" trick. That's when you invite your family over and explain to them, "So that everyone gets to enjoy a side they like, why don't you bring your favorite?" It cuts down on the work you have to do! The only way it could backfire is when everyone shows up with a batch of sweet potatoes or a can of cranberry sauce ... and then doesn't share. (Seriously, Uncle Mike?!)
No Thanksgiving is complete without a slice of pumpkin pie — even if you don't actually like it! It's just important to have it there, if only as a symbol. A symbol that Americans can eat something as disgusting as a jack-o-lantern as long as they cram enough sugar and spices into it. Heck, during November, even coffee and donuts try to imitate it, so pumpkin pie must be on to something ... a trend-setter. Yes, it's a must-have.
From scratch is nice — if you have nothing better to do — but why not take the easy route and get yourself this Farmer's Market Foods Organic Canned Pumpkin Pie Mix 12-Pack ($25.03 with free shipping via Subscribe & Save, a low by $16) which contains filling that's already spiced and sugared. It's unclear how many are necessary for a single pie, but we suggest making a mega one with all 12 cans, anyway. (Want something even easier? Hand each guest an open can and a spoon. Tell them you got the recipe from Martha Stewart; they'll eat it up with a spoon, literally, and compliment you on the creativeness of it all.)
Thanksgiving is a time for family, which (be honest) translates into: "I need a drink!" When you were a kid and your relatives started laying into you about school or your raging acne problems, you could just sulk off to your room. As an adult, you can't do that anymore. But you can sulk off to the wine bottle. (dealnews urges you to drink responsibly.) And sometimes, like in these family-intense instances, it's not about quality, but about quantity, so get the most for your money. (Again, drink responsibly.) Currently, Wine.com takes 10% off select wine gifts (via coupon code "HOLIDAYGIFTS") while Groupon offers a $75 Barclay's Wine Credit for $25. Stock up. You'll need it. (Seriously, though, be responsible! Or be sure to drink just slightly less than someone else at the party, so that they look like a lush, not you.)
You're going to need some specialty cooking tools to heat this bird up. Since we're going to assume you have an oven, let's start with some things you might not have: an Adjustable Roast Rack ($6.49 with free shipping via Amazon Prime, a low by $3). You'll need to put the rack into a Roasting Pan ($9.99 with free shipping via Amazon Prime, a low by $6), to keep the turkey from wallowing in its own juices (so it can get nice and dry and create that "authentic family Thanksgiving turkey" feel). At $6.49 and $9.99 respectively, you could simply throw it all out when you're done with it! Think of it: No dishes to wash. Now that is a happy Thanksgiving.
Dinnerware and Cutlery
If the aforementioned sitting-around-the-oven-picking-at-your-turkey isn't your ideal Thanksgiving dinner, and if you really want to avoid doing any dishes, just use paper plates. Or if you're worried about the turkey gravy soaking right through those things and onto your tablecloth, serve on the Ten Strawberry Street Simply White Square 16-Piece Dinnerware Set ($20 with free Site-to-Store shipping, a low by $16) from Walmart. It's a service for four so, if you have more kin than that, you'll have to buy a couple sets to avoid asking your guests to "double up", two-relatives-per-plate style. Sure, it's not fine china, but do you really trust your ham-handed in-laws with the good stuff? I thought not.
To avoid eating with your hands, you'll also be wanting this pictured Oneida Memphis 20-Piece Flatware Set ($22.24 via coupon code "DH11" with $6.50 s&h, $57 off) Again, it's a service for four, so you'll have to do math again. And, unless you have a very even family, any surplus of cutlery may increase the chances that an extra fork could end up jabbed into the hand of your cousin who's oh-so-smug about his new promotion, and you wish he'd just shut up, already ... er .... um ... what were we saying? Right: Cutlery! Divide by four!
You could stop buying Thanksgiving stuffs at this point, but there are a few items that'll really put your T-Day over the top. This 3-Piece Wooden Salad Serving Set ($19.99 with $5.99 s&h, a low by $13) not only says, "Hey, let's eat some leafy-greens and pretend to be healthy on this, the most over-eating-est day of the year!" but it also shows that you've got class — the kind of class that eats salad served out of a mission-specific bowl and not straight from the store-bought plastic bag your pre-mixed salad came in.
Also, major Thanksgiving points are awarded to all those who are brave enough (read: stupid) to risk limb, house, and life using this dealnews staff favorite, the Bayou Classic 30-Quart Turkey Fryer Kit (pictured; $66.99 with $12.81, a low by $5). Yes, every year a couple of fried-turkey-seeking revelers are featured on the news, telling their sob story of how the holiday was ruined by trips to the burn ward and calls to their insurance agents. YOU could be one of those lucky few! And it'll only cost you $80 total to risk it all!
So, with all the items out there, ready to be plucked from the Internet, there's no reason why you shouldn't have the best and most in-store-shopping-free Thanksgiving ever! Just don't forget to invite your friends and family to come over. Or cats. Cats love turkey ... and they don't judge you. (At least not vocally.)