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Common Thanksgiving Mishaps: How to Prepare for the Unexpected


No matter how meticulously you plan for Thanksgiving something unexpected is bound to happen. Following our Thanksgiving planning checklist will keep your celebration on track, but follow these tips as well to be prepared for common Thanksgiving mishaps.

father and daughter stress over burnt thanksgiving turkey

  • Purchase a Fire Extinguisher – We’re not joking. According to the National Fire Protection Association Thanksgiving is the most common day of the year for house fires. Just in case, keep your kitchen closet stocked with a small extinguisher. To prevent fire, stay in the kitchen when you are cooking in the oven or stovetop, and do not let children play in the kitchen during the food preparation process.
  • Start Thawing When Appropriate – A Common Thanksgiving blunder is not thawing the turkey long enough, resulting in a still-frozen bird when it’s time to begin cooking. If you’re in this situation, fill your kitchen sink with cool water and submerge your turkey until thawed. Alternatively, go ahead and season the partially frozen turkey and place in the oven – just increase your cooking time by 50%.
  • Cook Generously – At some point, a cousin or sibling will show up to your yearly event with an uninvited guest in tow. Turning someone away on Thanksgiving is improper etiquette – instead, plan on cooking slightly larger portions of food than you will need based on your total number of guests. Account for extra seating as well in this event – if you have 12 guests attending, make sure you have at least 15 chairs.
  • Allow For Adjustment – Not every dish will come out perfect. If your mashed potatoes are too runny heat them on the stovetop and stir regularly until the liquid evaporates. Mashed potatoes too lumpy? Again, heat them on the stovetop and add milk and cream until the lumps dissipate. Is your turkey too dry? Serve it sliced and use generous portions of gravy to add the moisture back in.
  • Buy Baking Soda for Stains – Don’t panic if someone spills red wine on your carpet while relaying a spirited anecdote. First, use a white cloth and blot the stain. Then, pour a small amount of cold water on the stain to diffuse it and blot some more until no more wine will lift out. At this point, create baking soda paste (mixing three parts water and one part baking soda) and apply the paste to the stain. Once the paste dries, vacuum the stain away!
  • Serve a Varied Menu – Occasionally you may find out minutes before the big meal that your niece is now gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian. If you prepare a variety of side dishes this situation won’t cause any undue panic. Simply include: two vegetable dishes, dairy-free mashed potatoes, and gluten-free snacks like chips for variety. Nearly all stuffing and casseroles contain gluten, so don’t rely too heavily on breaded menu items.
  • Keep the Water Coming – Thanksgiving can always be a little awkward, and there’s a chance at least one guest might help themselves to too much wine when surrounded by family. First, limit the amount of alcohol so you can monitor your guests throughout the evening, and provide everyone with refreshing filtered water throughout the night to prevent anyone from becoming intoxicated.

Take these extra precautions this Thanksgiving to solve the most common problems before they even occur. From all of us at Pelican Water, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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