When it comes to balancing a manic schedule, Julie Benz (of Syfy’s Defiance, ABC’s Desperate Housewives, and Showtime’s Dexter fame) knows a thing or two about keeping it together. As an avid home entertainer, she has learned a few tricks for keeping holidays like Thanksgiving functional and stress-free. With the help of Boston Market’s attached recipes and Benz's helpful tips, you can have a stress-free holiday, too!
Julie Benz's Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner:
Cooking is one of my favorite pastimes, but planning for the meal can be stressful and take time away from family and friends. Over the years, I’ve come up with a few shortcuts to help keep me sane… here are some of my favorite tips!
Don’t wait until the last minute to plan for Thanksgiving. A few weeks before Thanksgiving, sit down and write out your guest list. From there, you’ll be able to figure out exactly how much food and dinnerware you’ll need, and if you’ll be asking guests to bring any dishes. If you have a big extended family like I do, don’t forget to count chairs!
2. Cook ahead of time as much as possible.
Shopping early will get you bigger discounts, and quite a bit of prep work can be done in advance. Have your turkey salted, buttered, and in the pan a few days early, and make your rolls or biscuits the day before.
3. Use prepared sides to skip a few steps in recipes.
Starting every recipe from scratch can be overwhelming. I like to buy a few prepared sides and spice them up myself — for example, instead of spending time peeling and dicing, I pick up a side of mashed potatoes from Boston Market and then use them in my favorite butternut sage mashed potatoes recipe. It takes hours off prep time so I can make even more sides, or just move onto the next thing!
4. Keep the kids busy.
Having all the little ones around is wonderful, but can make for a hectic house. Have a few projects planned that the kids can help with while you cook, like setting the table, decorating cookies, or designing creative name cards for all the guests. These projects can be fun for the kids, and give you the time you need to prepare while also taking care of some of the items on your to-do list.
From Boston Market:
Inevitably, something will go wrong — take a deep breath, remember that everything will be OK, and enjoy the fact that you have the people most important to you there with you to laugh about it. If someone spills on the tablecloth or a side dish burns, it’s not the worst thing in the world — you can always make a last-minute trip to Boston Market for another side (they’re open Thanksgiving Day!).