How to Save or Salvage Thanksgiving or Xmas Dinner
Are you currently in a T-Day Bind?
I'm absolutely in love with riding YouTube Vlogging Star: Grandma Pottymouth, who has fortunately made this hilarious vlog about her holiday meal hosting woes and the ensuring chaos she's preparing for; just like you!
Grandma Pottymouth on Thanksgiving
All my fingers and toes would not cover the count of times that I've been in a Turkey day or Christmas day bind; something I know I'm not alone in. Just this morning, the clerk at my favorite convenience store was telling me the riveting story of her 2018 thanksgiving, where the expected host and cook (her mom) ended up getting sick and was unable to cook dinner or facilitate family - an honor which she bestowed on her youngest daughter (the clerk).
Considering that she was the backup plan, she took on the mantle of holiday cook and host; doing the best she could to manage what felt like total chaos. At the end of which, she had a renewed sense of awe for her mom, who made it look so easy every year.
I never got passed the torch by my mother, but there have been several occasions I've become the impromptu holiday gathering chef; as well as times when I've gotten super sick right when I was supposed to be getting the turkey into the oven.
There are plenty of other holiday mishaps that can manifest right into your lap.
Which is why this article is dedicated to guiding you through what to do when Thanksgiving, Christmas or any holiday dinner is under threat of being ruined.
FIRST: Don't Panic! Thanksgiving Dinner can still be Saved or Salvaged!
Whether it's your first time fixing thanksgiving dinner for your new family, your extended family or yourself; or whether this will be your last year hosting thanksgiving and you wanted it to be exceptional: Now is not the time to beat up on yourself for burning the bird.
Your first tip: Stay Calm and do NOT panic!
The first rule to salvaging any party or gathering, is to generate and keep in your mind, at least ten things you're grateful for no matter whats happening around you. Focus on anything and everything you can be grateful for, then simply continually ask the universe for CLARITY; which it will provide in abundance to those who clearly ask for and desire it.
The rest is simply a matter of stretching your adaptability muscles; which is exactly what I intend to help you do in this hub!
#1. No Turkey for Eat
Whether you burnt the turkey, forgot the turkey or the store ran out before you went shopping; there's no need to fret about a ruined Thanksgiving when you keep in mind some simple on-the-fly-fixes.
Starting with simply grabbing another meat (if you still have time to reach an open grocery store). Virtually any main dish works for Thanksgiving and will become a refreshing surprise and great story years later, especially when you realize how much you can save on what you'd normally spend on TurkeyDay dinners when you ditch the turkey and choose one of the many meats available in great abundance in November and December.
Some great meats to choose from are things like Lamb, Duck, Ham, Sausage, Ground Beef, Venison, Bison/Buffalo, Liverworst, Chicken, Pheasant/Quail, Fish, Sushi, and if you're feeling exceptionally brave; Spam.
If you find yourself out of time to reach a store and grab a different protein source, don't be afraid to go Vegetarian
or even Vegan this year, and simply ditch the dead animal on the table (definitely worthy of some good karma points).
Taking this route will be bold, especially if you have any persnickety family or friends who can't stand anything that deviates from their expectations of a "normal" thanksgiving. Though it can be well worth putting up with their rabble, if not for the savings in time and money, than for the savings around your waste.
Not to mention, without the turkey to mix with the potatoes, there's no need to worry about everyone falling asleep halfway through dessert!
Lastly, if you did happen to get a decent bird to serve but have simply overcooked into into desert dryness or have fully burnt it; Don't Ditch it!
Instead, pull out your biggest soup pots and start shredding up whatever bits of your fowl are still edible and tossing those bits into some water and let it boil while you raid your pantry and fridge for any veggies and seasonings you've got. At this point, you can easily ad-lib or look up a simple soup recipe.
If you're wanting to show off your ad-hoc T-Day dinner rescue skills, try pulling out or going to a gas station for a few bags of Flower. Slowly add it to your boiling water with salvaged turkey bits; continue until you have a mildly thick rue. Add some pepper and milk or cream at minimum.
If you have any of these ingredients handy, you can add more flavor to your liking: Salt, Sour Cream, Canned or Sauted Mushrooms, Cayenne, Fresh or Dried Onions, Fresh or Powdered Garlic, bacon, apples, or cumin.
If you have veggies available, anything fresh needs to be boiled separately with butter or another moisturizing ingredient, to ensure they cook all the way through as quickly as possible; then they should be added and tada! Now you have a hearty turkey and veggie stew that will be more than enough to go around.
Thanksgiving Dinner Disaster #2: Forgetting the Fixings (oh dear!)
Don't freak if you're missing your fixings!
Instead, think about whose supposed to be on their way to your place for dinner; Call down your list of most to least reliable friends and fam, until someone says they can bring the missing fixings.
Should phoning a friend fail you as badly as it did many a wannabe-millionaire, the next best plan is to simply raid your cupboards and food spaces for any canned foods, instant items and fresh fruits. Any of these items will make a fine replacement to that eternally forgotten cranberry sauce, stuffing or potatoes.
If that doesn't fix your situation and you find you're dinner is still fixings-challenged, it's time to find the only open gas stations or convenience stores in the area and head there ASAP to get whatever sorts of fixings they have available. Corn, hash, canned corned beef, apple sauce, chili, virtually anything will do at this point.
While you're there, grab any pre-made salads, some bags of chips & extra snacks.
This will buy you pressure moments of time by keeping the kids and hangry family members at bay will you salvage thanksgiving dinner for everyone.
Turkey Cooking Fire Fails - Burning the Bird
Thanksgiving Dinner Disaster #3: Under-Cooked Turkey
Stall for time...snacks...dessert first...board games...dance party...ditch bird and eat out...
When it comes to undercooking the turkey; unless you literally forgot to turn the oven on hours ago, mostly all you really need is time.
To manifest yourself the perfect amount of time, go first to your games shelves or cupboards and pull out your families favorites. Set them up and get everyone involved in playing.
Once everyone is picking out their pieces and remembering the rules, you can sneak into the kitchen and grab any snackfoods you've got handy, and bring them out to fill any spaces on the table that the board or card game isn't taking up.
Should the games and snacks not create quiet enough time, you can add in one of my favorite tricks: DESSERT FIRST.
The kids love it, the adults will go humorously go with it, everyone smiles and enjoys pumpkin pie, ice cream and whatever else you'd planned to keep for after dinner.
As an added bonus, you can let everyone know that having dessert before dinner is actually healthier, as it gives your body a chance to process all that sugar and fat faster and easier with protein from soon-to-be-served dinner. That means both the kids and elders will be in better moods by the end of the night, and any sugar rushes will be managably handled BEFORE dinner is served.
Thanksgiving Dinner Disaster #4; Not Enough to Go Around
Whether your dinner math wasn't up to par, or you simply had more guests show up than originally expected, there's no need for worry..
..so long as you can keep your head cool and find your measuring cups. (portion it out)
It's no secret: We ALL overeat EVERY year.
That means you're in luck if this thanksgiving you find your bind is that you might not have enough for everyone eating at your table.
All you need at this point, is a whole cup measuring cup and a utensil. Portion a cup of everything on each plate until everyone has a serving of each item. Then add a second cup to any adult plates. Anything left over after that can go to whomever is still hungry after everything is said and done.
And if, for any reason, that still doesn't satisfy everyone, you can pull out any quick-bake boxed desserts, snack foods, canned or instant fixings, or other desserts you have on hand and use it to fill in the gaps in your guests tummies.
Back in 2006, I was responsible for my families first Thanksgiving and Xmas dinners; both of which I thought required Turkey; and both times of which I ruined the turkey. The following years weren't much better until one year, I found my mom browsing through a book about what to do with Turkey left overs after Thanksgiving or Christmas.
I borrowed that book from her when the idea struck me, that many of the recipes for using up the massive loads of leftover turkey during the holidays; you can use any of these recipes to save any Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner in less time than it took you to almost ruin it.
Mom wouldn't let me keep her wonderful book, so I wrote down the name (Dot's Secret Little "What to do with Leftover Turkey" Cookbook) and got my own copy. When I started writing this article, it was one of the first tools that popped into my head, that anyone could use no matter the situation, and was pleasantly surprised to see the revised second addition available through Amazon.
Any cookbook is valuable in moments where you need to be creative, but nothing helps in a holiday clincher like a cookbook that's already uses all the ingredients you already have on hand, or can usually find at any open businesses during the holidays.
Best Thanksgiving Dinner Backup Plan Ideas
It doesn't hurt to spend plenty of time learning about how to practice hosting the perfect holiday dinners; but that won't make you immune to holiday chaos. Save yourself the years of time, money and unfortunate experiences with fouled up fowls and turkeyless turkey day gatherings by proactively planning ahead by using one of these simple backup plans, video how-to's or by creating your own backup plans.
Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner Backup Plans & Alternatives
Ditching the Bird
Put together a list of Open establishments
Ground Beef/Alt Meat
Make List of Fam/Friends w/Room for You
Get a Deli Platter to keep in the fridge (sandwhiches anyone?)
Cook a large Ham, Rack of Lamb, Chicken or other Protein at the SAME time you cook your Turkey; to use when you need to ditch the bird
Ditch "Norms"; Create Your Own Traditions
There are plenty of reasons built up in our subconscious minds, as to why traditional or "normal" holiday dinners are the goal. Though when it comes to your relationship with yourself, your family, and how you celebrate each holiday gathering; nothing can truly beat the art of creating your own holiday traditions; customized to fit you and your families tastes, preferences and satisfaction.
There are many popular modern alternatives to traditional Thanksgiving day celebrations; some of which I've added to the table below. Give them a look, and then take some time to ask yourself:
What do I really love about these celebrations?
What do I really want included in my holiday rituals?
What are my beliefs about Thanksgiving as a holiday? What does it mean?
Why do I also feel like I need to have a Turkey with Thanksgiving or Xmas?
Contemplate these questions and decide if it's time to set "normalcy" aside, and design the holiday gatherings and meals that will fulfill YOUR needs over societies expectations.
Do everything the same; Sans Turkey
Specifically Choose a Strange Main Dish; Fish Tacos anyone?
Celebrate on the Weekend
Travel/Go on Vacation
Celebrate Harvest Season Instead
Have an "Open" Buffet/Potluck All Day
Create New Traditions just right for Your Family
If you haven't written down a list of your friends and family members allergies, intolerances and dietary needs; DO IT NOW, and then make it your regular habit to ask about allergies whenever a new guest is supposed to join you for dinner. This will help you avoid having any guests who can't enjoy the meal with everyone (another common holiday meal disaster)