Hey, its cheaper to book flights now, and as long as you know where youre going this Thanksgiving it makes sense to pocket the money youre going to have to spend in a few months. Its not like the dates are going to change. Notes travel journalist George Hobica of AirfareWatchdog.com, "If the fare is the same or less for travel Nov. 26 to the Saturday or Sunday after the holiday, as it is for, say, travel now through early June, then it's an indication that the airlines haven't jacked up prices for the holiday yet."
In other words, you should probably book now. As Hobica explained, take for example, flying from Dayton, Ohio, to Austin, Texas, from Nov. 26 through the 30. Right now, thats as low as $334 roundtrip with tax. "For travel through June 8, it's $270," says Hobica. "For travel later in June, it's $350. So that tells me that at the very least the airlines haven't begun 'gouging' for peak holiday travel."
If a fare isn't much higher or even lower for peak Thanksgiving travel than it is for travel other times of year, Hobica says hed buy.If it's way higher, keep checking and wait for prices to come down. "Boston to Chicago right now for Nov. 26 through the 30 is $217. That's actually less than the $248 you'd pay for traveling in July. So I'd buy that too now. It's only going to go up."
Does $30 in savings not sound like much? What if youre a family of four? It all adds up.
Never hosted Thanksgiving dinner before? Only seen the days stresssecondhand? If you havent figured out all the Thanksgiving victuals youre going need to feed your family of 10 or 20, if you havent balanced shopping, basement-to-attic house cleaning, booze buying, decorating, place-setting, and table-arranging, along with, well, the cooking, you might want to figure out as much of this as possible in advance.
Cooking might be something you want to start practicing in advance as well. Never made mashed potatoes and gravy? How about homemade cranberry sauce? Apple pie? How about that heirloom recipe that youve never made but everyone always looks forward to? Wait, have you never cooked a turkey? Never brined, smoked, or fried one? Well maybe nows a good time to start.
Tired of it sneaking up on you? Hell-bent on crushing Thanksgiving dinner this year? Writing up a Thanksgiving checklist is one way to make sure you stay on target from start to finish. And depending on how adventurous, outlandish, or simple you want this year's Thanksgiving dinner to be, your checklist could be a parabolic nine months out, or just a steep climb that starts mid-October. If youre planning on making some of the more advanced moves featured in upcoming slides (fried turkey, for instance) or selecting seasonal wines, youre going to probably want to practice.
Either way, it's helpful to come up with a scheduled checklist, one as anticipatory as seven months out to account for winemaking, or as granular as a six-week-out list that plans things down to the hour on the big day. And while it may seem way too soon to be talking about this now well, that's how you ended up overwhelmed last year, right?
Has there been a new addition to the family? The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology all recommend that parents wait to introduce solid foods to their babies until they reach six months, but at that point, they’re ready to be introduced to Thanksgiving, too. Like a first birthday or Christmas, a baby’s first Thanksgiving is a special occasion, so it makes sense to start planning and practicing recipes for baby food as well. And because babies are picky eaters (and keeping them happy is going to be key to everyone else enjoying dinner, too) it makes sense to try to get them accustomed to eating those kinds of foods now so that you’re not embarrassed at the dinner table. Do-it-yourself baby food is a big trend, why not give it a shot? Combining Thanksgiving flavors in one jar might even mask some vegetables or fruits that the baby might normally not like.
You're not likely to shake up the menu, or make drastic recipe changes to heirloom recipes for new flames who have been invited over for Thanksgiving, but you might have to start accommodating dietary restrictions for fiances, new spouses, and serious significant others who have gained a seat at the table. That might be as simple as doing two versions of a few dishes where the offending ingredient isnt included, or having to make some significant additions or substitutions when it comes to creating menus that are gluten-free, vegetarian, kosher, or diabetic-friendly.
You probably wont be revamping the whole menu based on these restrictions, but at the very least you'll want to have a few options to make them feel welcome. If you know they'll be coming this year, being on the lookout from now until the big day for recipes (and testing them out) could make the difference when it comes to establishing good relationships for years to come.
Last year, you screwed up the mashed potatoes. They were salty, they were lumpy, they were runny, they were gummy whatever they were, it's solvable. Sure they're most heart-warming during the fall and winter, but mashed potatoes make for a great side all year long. There's no reason not to be practicing them all year. And how about variations on them? Garlic mashed potatoes, mixing different kinds of potatoes into a mash, accenting them with different kinds of herbs (tarragon, dill, or sage, anyone?), spices (chipotle or aji amarillo mashed potatoes?), or other vegetables (celery mashed potatoes), other flavor accents like horseradish, mustard, or jalapeos there are myriad ways to gussy up this classic. How about something more outlandish? Bacon-wrapped mashed potatoes? Twice-baked potatoes topped with all the baked potato fixings you could possibly imagine? The possibilities are endless and this principal goes far beyond spuds. You might want to get started on them now to nail down those recipes.
If you're going to grow your own Thanksgiving dinner you should plan out your planting schedule now. Herbs, corn, potatoes, pumpkins, squash, beans, okra, carrots, whatever you plan on having on the table on Thanksgiving Day obviously needs to be planted in advance and timed to the big meal.
Participate in a CSA that sends you great stuff that will be out of season that you want to include during Thanksgiving? Are those berries or stone fruits from your local farmers' market something you want to have on hand in November? Thinking about making cherry or blueberry pies this Thanksgiving Day? Have your own garden bounty that you want to include in Thanksgiving recipes this November? If you're planning on featuring out of season fruits and vegetables along with your Thanksgiving turkey, you'll want to plan, plant, harvest, and freeze them when they're ready.
Whether you're looking to riff on the flavors of Thanksgiving by brewing cranberry wheat and pumpkin ales, or making your own cranberry wine, you're going to have to get a head-start. Home Brew It notes that while it depends on the style of beer you're making, it will be about four weeks before you can sample your handiwork. So you're going to want to at least start in October, and that's if you're supremely confident that you have the flavor profiles down pat. If you want to experiment with flavors to get things just right, you'll want to get started much earlier, like say now.
You always talk about how this is going to be the year that you Fill in the Blank (fry, brine, beer-brine, turducken, grill, sous-vide, bacon-wrap, beercan, dry-rub, barbecue, smoke, Pekingify, or spit-roast) your Thanksgiving turkey. But if you've never done these different preparations before, you're putting yourself in the position of having to nail them on the actual high-pressure day.
Give one (or more) of these techniques a shot before November. Experiment with a few during the summer. It's not a crazy thought to do turkey grilled, beer can-style (Fosters can anyone?), dry-rub, barbecued, smoked, or spit-roasted during the summer they all fit perfectly with being outdoors and celebrating with friends during the warmer months.
As for the other methods hey, practice makes for a perfect turkey on the big day, and ensures that you're not going to spend yet another Thanksgiving listening to family members or friends nod and smile while gulping down water to try to get down the same dry mess you serve every year.