My 10 Best Thanksgiving Tips.

I always get a little bit jealous of my American friends at this time of year. Being Canadian I celebrated Thanksgiving over a month ago. The smells of delicious stuffing, crispy roasted bird and rich gravy are long gone. Mostly gone anyway. Actually, I had a bowl of leftover stuffing from Thanksgiving that I froze with gravy just last night. And I had it with some turnip, mashed potatoes, squash and roasted chicken. I basically recreated a mini Thanksgiving dinner for myself. Just to get me over the hump you understand.

I drew the line at pumpkin pie but I did manage to find a Krispy Kreme donut in the back of my freezer that was an adequate substitute. Actually it wasn’t adequate, but two Krispy Kreme donuts were.

I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for my family and friends in my home for the past 20 years. Year in and year out we all gather around my dining room table (which has changed numerous times throughout the years) to celebrate, scream, cry, give thanks and measure each others heads.

So I’m pretty well versed in all that is Thanksgiving dinner related. Last night while I was scarfing down my imitation Thanksgiving dinner I thought it’d be a good idea to share some of my tips with you. So once I licked my gravy laden fingers and wiped the donut glaze from my lips I got to compiling a list of my 10 best Thanksgiving tips.

Your first bonus tip is the fact that donut glaze and gravy is not a particularly elegant combination of flavours and I would recommend you avoid it if possible.

10 best Thanksgiving tips.

10 best Thanksgiving tips.

  1. How to Carve a Turkey.– Learn how to carve your turkey and reassemble it on a platter so it looks like it did before you put it in the oven. (epically poor photo alert on this post, lol)
  2. Make Pumpkin Pie from Real Pumpkin – Making pumpkin pie with a real pumpkin. WHAT a revelation. And easy!
  3. 5 Beautiful Centrepiece ideas just for Thanksgiving.– 5 of my best centrepiece ideas for Thanksgiving. Some easy and simple, others more difficult and elaborate.
  4. The Kids’ Table – Believe it or not kids like to have a grown up table, not a cutesy kiddie one. It makes them feel special and grown up.
  5. The Brussels Sprouts recipe for people who hate Brussels Sprouts.– The only way I’ll eat those gross little devil heads.
  6. The best way to clean Stainless Steel. – The best way also happens to be a chemical free way. How to make quick work of cleaning your fridge and range after the dinner.
  7. Make potato pancakes– A delicious way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.
  8. Make chicken/turkey broth – DO NOT THROW OUT THAT CARCASS.You can even pressure can it to use all year.
  9. Make gnocchi! – Don’t get a beating heart over potato pancakes? Then make gnocchi with your leftover mashed potatoes.
  10. This is what a real Thanksgiving looks like.– Don’t plan to have a magazine perfect Thanksgiving. It doesn’t exist. Someone will fart, or throw up or break something. Just roll with it and read my account of the Thanksgiving of 2014 around my dining room table as proof that it ain’t gonna be perfect. And that’s O.K.

Next week you’ll be getting one more tip … my go-to favourite recipe for Turkey Pot Pie made with leftover turkey (or chicken). If there’s one thing that can get me out of bed in the morning its knowing I have turkey pot pie to get to. 

That’s not true. But I do very much like Turkey Pot pie or chicken pot pie. I’m more likely to get out of bed for coffee though.

Good luck to all of you who will be spending the next week getting ready for Thanksgiving dinners. For the rest of us in the world? There’s nothing that says you can’t still have pumpkin pie. And a big PS – pumpkin pie freezes perfect.  I mean, it’s as good the day you bring it out of the freezer as the day you put it in kind of good. 

Have a good weekend and if you have a great tip leave it in the comments.


  1. Benjamin says:

    Today was filled with magic. Gratitude is contagious. Happy Thanksgiving to all my old friends and new. ((Hugs))

  2. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    You have the best family to share your holidays with Karen!

  3. Amy says:

    We’re having a variety of folks over for Thanksgiving including my step daughters boyfriends parents. The mom is from Canada and I thought it’d be nice to include something traditional for her but it sounds like our meals are similar. Any ideas on something that I can do to make it a little special for her?
    Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hmm. I’m not sure. I think you’re right, they’re fairly similar. Although I think any Canadian would love to take part in the true American tradition of Sweet Potato Pie! It’s practically mythical to us, lol. ~ karen!

  4. SuzanneLH says:

    What a post! Been reading it for the last day and a half… Thanks. Tided me over no post Saturday.

  5. Renee Ryz says:

    I wish it was earlier as well. It seems like as the years have gone by, Thanksgiving is not it’s own thing, it is just the start of Christmas season. I don’t put up decorations or play holiday music until the day after. It seems like it gets shoved down our throats, and the simplicity of Thanksgiving and being with loved ones gets lost in the shuffle. I was at the grocery today though, and I can already taste the turkey & smell the sage….Getting the shakes right now! We usually host for 20 to 21 people, this year only 14. Lots of leftovers for me! Hope ya all have a Blessed and lovely day!

  6. Melissa says:

    Gah, I’m doing a million things at once (what, with the Christmas Pledge and all…) but this was good timing. I need to drag out my menu and see what (besides bread and pilaf) can be done ahead of time.

    Keepin’ me on my toes, Karen… ;-)

  7. Julia says:

    Krispy Kremes in the freezer?!!!! You don’t have to eat the whole dozen in one go so they don’t get stale?!!!
    As a non-Thanksgiving celebrating Englishwoman, that’s my favourite lesson from today (although most of the tips will be used for Christmas Day here…).

  8. Jane says:

    I would love to know the secret in the art of doing stuff universe for the chemical-free method. Something that isn’t made up of atoms and molecules would be truly revolutionary! ;)

  9. Valerie says:

    If you are cooking a large turkey it is useful to put it in prior to going to bed and getting up early to take it out of the oven. Start the oven at 400 and then turn it down to 300 before going to bed. It will need to be tented loosely with foil as the baster will be snoozing. In the morning out it comes, the meat is separated into dark and light, packaged and refrigerated and a roue is made from the drippings in the pan and removed with the gravy to be completed toward the late afternoon. The kitchen and roaster is cleaned up, the bones acquired during the carving are frozen and now is when the table can get set.
    Toward dinner time the gravy is completed the light and dark meat and stuffing are set in the warming oven, the veggies are now done and you can actually navigate around the kitchen.

  10. Jan in Waterdown says:

    First, I gotta say with all due respect to those south of the Can/US border, having Thanksgiving in Oct is soooo much better than a month before Xmas! Theres’s time to relax and recuperate in between the two biggest holidays of the year. And then too, we have Boxing Day, or as I like to call it, Pyjamas Day.

    Secondly, carving the turkey breast Karen’s way is the absolute BEST thing you will ever do and it will transform your life. Ok maybe that’s a tad over the top but it IS fab!

  11. Eileen says:

    Hilarious your stories of T’givings…I hadn’t found your blog yet then!
    Just had this link sent from local newspaper: Thanksgiving for animals. Relatable!

  12. june says:

    Karen- Is there any reason we cannot celebrate both Thanksgivings? NO!! Go for it!

    Slightly off topic, but thought of you and your spud love after looking at this earlier this AM. Just the photos had me drooling.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. A friend was over the other day and the minute he walked in the door I made him look in my pantry cupboard filled with crates and crates of different varieties of potatoes. Dear Potato. I love you. ~ karen!

  13. mia says:

    Thank you once again for a humorous and useful post. My first selection from your list is to make the fresh pumpkin pie, and at 2 in the morning here in Portland, I’m wishing I could make that pie and eat a fat piece of it right now…but dang, no pumpkins in the house. A tired blood orange will have to suffice for my insomnia snack. And yes, I have Canadian Thanksgiving-envy every year when I see all the photos of your beautiful feasts while here in the US we’re not there yet. It’s torture. Hey, why don’t we all just agree to celebrate both of our holidays? I could totally do two Thanksgivings….one Canadian and one American. Maybe one with ham and apple pie, and one with Turkey and pumpkin pie? Then it could be like Christmas and Christmas Eve, where you celebrate one day with the obligatory required guests, and the other day with your dearest kindred spirit friends. We would need your recipes, of course, Karen….and various other holiday tips. And drink recipes…some serious drink recipes, hahaha, because if I’m going to do it twice…I might as well get drunk at at least one of them<:}

  14. Ev Wilcox says:

    Thanks Karen! I’m all ready getting the T-Day shakes here! There will be only 6 of us here, all family. Your hints are very helpful, and our day will be nice and not perfect. Hope your T-day went well (and hope it stays kind of cold so I can use our enclosed back porch as an auxiliary fridge, as usual). Once, at Christmas, it was so cold that the wine I rested there had ice crystals in it. Best wine ever!

  15. Auntiepatch says:

    I have my butcher cut my turkey into pieces (like a chicken) and then I throw it in the oven to roast. It cooks in a fraction of time and it cooks evenly. I’ve been doing this for years and no one has ever said, “That is one unattractive turkey.” It is delicious and I’m never going back.

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