Thanksgiving Day Tips

 By Diane Tait

Image courtesy Pixabay

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, I thought I'd take the time to offer ten tips that are meant to keep you from being a turkey this year.  Whether you're hosting dinner for your family or are planning on traveling to meet them for the big event, there are a few things you should keep in mind that could keep the holiday from being ruined.  

1. So many mouths to feed.  So little time. - If you plan on preparing the family feast this year, it can lead to a lot of stress if you wait until the last minute to prepare everything.  If your family is like mine, you can expect your home to look like a riot on Thanksgiving Day with family, kids, and pets running around while you're trying to put the finishing touches on the turkey with all the trimmings.  Since I'm the member of the family with the cooking gene who invariably winds up preparing Thanksgiving dinner, I've learned the best way to keep my blood pressure from spiking is to prepare most of the side dishes and the pumpkin pie a day or two in advance.  This way, all I'll have to worry about is carving the turkey and mashing the potatoes on Thanksgiving Day.  

2. Praise the Lord and pass the stuffing. - The last thing you want to spoil your turkey day get together is a bad case of food poisoning.  The leading cause of the malady is improperly thawed turkey. If you buy a frozen turkey, the best way to thaw it is to keep it in its original wrapper and submerge the bird in water.  You can do this in a stockpot or the sink.  A 15-lb. bird will take approximately 8 hours to thaw this way.  The other way to safely thaw a turkey is to let it thaw slowly in the fridge, although this can take 3 days to completely thaw a 15-lb. bird.  If you use the fridge, make sure the turkey is placed on a platter so juices won't drip down to contaminate the other contents in the refrigerator.  Never thaw a turkey by letting it sit on the counter.  If a turkey sits in the open for 2 or more hours, bacteria will start to grow.  This could lead to a bad case of food poisoning on the big day.

3. Make sure your turkey is completely cooked. – While your turkey will undoubtedly sport one of those pop-up thermometers that supposedly tell you when the bird is done, the only way to know if it's completely cooked is to stick a meat thermometer into the thigh and the stuffing to make sure the internal temperature has reached a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. How to avoid cross-contamination. - Raw turkey can contaminate everything it and you touch.  That's why the CDC recommends washing your hands with soapy water for 20 seconds before and after you handle the bird.  They also advise you to never reuse a knife or a cutting board when you cut raw turkey, and avoid letting poultry juice fall on other food, utensils, and/or countertops.

Image courtesy Pixabay

5. Fire prevention tips. - Did you know that Thanksgiving Day produces the highest number of cooking fires year in and year out?  It accounts for nearly half the fires reported and 21% of the fatalities caused by house fires in the US.  To make sure your list of Thanksgiving invitees doesn't include members of the local fire department, here are a few helpful hints:

a. Know where your fire extinguisher is located and how to use it.

b. Never turn your back on the stove while Thanksgiving dinner is cooking.

c. Double check the batteries in your smoke alarm the day before Thanksgiving.

d. Avoid wearing loose clothing that could come in contact with open flame.

e. Use several timers to make sure that food in or on the stove doesn't overcook.

6. Over the river and through the woods. - If you plan on traveling to a family member's home for Thanksgiving, make sure you leave early.  Thanksgiving Day is one of the most heavily traveled holidays in the country.  It's also one of the most accident-prone holidays.  If you don't relish being stuck in heavy traffic, I advise downloading an app that keeps track of the traffic to warn you about potential accidents and traffic jams.

7. Make sure everyone and everything is secured safely before you hit the road.  - If you're taking food with you, pack it in a cooler in the trunk.  If you're traveling with pets, make sure they're strapped into a harness that will keep them from turning into furry projectiles if you were to slam on the brakes.

8. Take a roadside emergency kit with you. - Nobody expects to break down on the road, but if you do you'll want to be prepared.  Who knows where you'll get stuck or how long it will take roadside assistance to reach you if the family sedan quits running.  Deploying daymarks or flares to warn off approaching traffic can mean the difference between an inconvenience and a catastrophe.

9. Protecting your home while you're away. - The last thing you want to return to is a burglarized home.  That means you should never post your travel plans on social media.  That's like leaving a "Rob Me" sign on your front door.  Also, make sure you leave some lights on since it gets dark early at this time of year.

10. Make sure your homeowner's policy is up to date, just to be on the safe side. - A five-minute conversation with your agent could save you from a lot of grief should anything untoward happen to you, your home, or your family during the holidays.  

Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance.  To find out more about how you can save money on insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.


  1. I don't mind cooking Thanksgiving dinner, as long as someone else volunteers to do the dishes.

  2. Everyone lives Thanksgiving Turkey. Maybe I will use these tips for my Christmas Turkey as well.


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