4 Mistakes Chef Gaby Dalkin Says Everyone Makes on Thanksgiving

And how to avoid them

Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Best-selling author, chef, entrepreneur and founder of the blog “What’s Gaby Cooking?Gaby Dalkin knows a thing or two about hosting friends and family for dinner. That’s why we were eager to hear about her Thanksgiving Day tips, including the mistakes she sees everyone make (and how to avoid them) as well as a few of her favorite recipes that we can’t wait to impress our own guests with. Here, Dalkin’s Thanksgiving 101, where she leaves nothing on the table (except maybe the perfect bouquet).

1. Winging the Timeline

“Thanksgiving is stressful, and I live by a timeline,” Dalkin tells us. “A hard Thanksgiving “no” for me is running to the store the day-of, so I really follow a schedule to make sure I have all the essentials – everything from recipe ingredients to hosting basics like water, wine, cleaning supplies – it’s so nice waking up to a clean kitchen the next day,” she adds. But if the idea of creating your own holiday timeline stresses you out, don’t fret—Dalkin has teamed up with Finish to create a personalized Thanksgiving timeline that will send you reminders of when to shop for what ingredients, when to set the table and more, all synced to your phone.

2. Test Driving New Recipes

“If you’re hosting, I wouldn’t take this time to attempt any new recipes” Dalkin cautions. (We get it—a croquembouche would be an amazing centerpiece but Thanksgiving Day is not the moment to attempt it for the first time.) If you’re going to try something new, Dalkin recommends you soft-launch it to a group of friends a few weeks before so that you’re comfortable with it, and can avoid stressing out on Thanksgiving Day. “A new recipe I am bringing to my dinner table this year is a cheesy herb sourdough stuffing – I can’t wait for my family to try it!”

3. Setting the Table Last-Minute

The turkey is done, the mashed potatoes are piping hot, and Uncle Ron is about to talk politics—time to sit down and eat! Oops, except the table hasn’t been set (so much for steering the convo to green beans.) “I always tell people to set their table days ahead of time,” Dalkin says. “It’s something that can feel overwhelming, but once it’s done, you feel much better.” One caveat: Waiting until Thanksgiving Day to set out glassware to ensure they’re clean and dust-free, the chef suggests. “I also set the table with a big, beautiful floral arrangement that can be easily removed when it’s time for dinner to be served. I like when my guests can serve themselves at the table; it promotes community and conversation, opposed to people getting up throughout the meal.”

4. Handing Out All Your Tupperware

“I have been known for two things on Thanksgiving: sending my guests home with cookies, as well as sending an email in advance requesting that they *please* bring their own glassware to take leftovers home in!” Dalkin exclaims. “When everyone leaves, I put everything in the dishwasher and don’t want to think about what storageware is missing. For a take-home treat, my chocolate chip cookies are truly the best, but during the holidays my molasses cookie is also a winner, and what’s helpful is that the dough can be made in advance.”

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