TASTE
11/18/2013 09:32 am ET Updated Nov 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner Mistakes You Should Avoid

No matter how much we try to tell ourselves that Thanksgiving is just a bigger dinner party than usual and a turkey is just a bigger chicken, we all cave in under the pressure occasionally. Whether it's forgetting to eat breakfast, burning the turkey or some other bone-headed mistake (and believe us, we've made them all), a few speed-bumps along the way are inevitable on our favorite eating holiday.

Here, we've listed 10 of the most common mistakes people make on Thanksgiving. If you go in knowing what to avoid, it should be smooth sailing, all gravy (no seriously, gravy is very important).

  • 1 Not Making A Game Plan
    Kristian Sekulic via Getty Images
    Even the simplest Thanksgiving menu would be tough to cook in one day. The beauty of the Thanksgiving meal is that most of it reheats like a charm. Make sauces, casseroles, mashed potatoes and really anything you can in advance. Even if it's just one dish a day, you'll feel the relief when everyone is hanging out in the kitchen and you're not blanching green beans, chopping herbs and mashing potatoes.
  • 2 NOT EATING BEFORE YOU START COOKING
    Cindy Loughridge via Getty Images
    We really cannot stress this enough: eat breakfast. Eat something around lunch. You are going to need your strength to pull that turkey out of the oven, and you are also going to be standing for most of the day. It doesn't have to be elaborate or fancy, but you do need to eat something. Do not pass out in the kitchen -- just eat a snack.
  • 3 Not Making Snacks
    Lauri Patterson via Getty Images
    Look, Sam Sifton will disagree with me (he has a rather "Mommy Dearest"-like No Appetizers EVER rule), but appetizers on Thanksgiving are key. This is a day for abundance. Yes, you are about to eat the single biggest meal of the year, but that does not mean that you or one of your guests will not get hangry before that happens. Don't ruin Thanksgiving with hangry jerks.

    Get some really easy appetizer recipes paired with cocktails, which are also very important
  • 4 Freaking Out About Getting The Turkey Just Right
    YouTube: Tante Marie's Cooking School
    Should I baste? Should I ice the breasts? Should I rub with butter or oil? Should I brine it? How can I get the turkey breast and legs to be finished cooking at the same time? Look. It doesn't matter. It is turkey and it is going to taste like turkey no matter what. If you want your turkey to taste good, make great gravy.

    Please take some advice from our very favorite cooking school instructor of all time, and just put the f*cking turkey in the oven.
  • 5 Not Letting People Help And/Or Bring Things
    Burke/Triolo Productions via Getty Images
    If people are coming from their houses, they should definitely bring the side dish they like making the most. If people are coming from anywhere else on earth, they should bring a bottle of wine or whatever else they'd like to drink. People will come into the kitchen and ask to help -- LET THEM. Trying to do everything on your own will end in tears, and there's no reason for it. Most people we know like to have a job at a party, and when a meal feels like a team effort, everything tastes better.
  • 6 Getting Too Fancy/Innovative
    Philippe Desnerck via Getty Images
    Thanksgiving is a holiday about tradition. That's why we still eat turkey, even though we can all pretty much agree it is kind of a garbage bird. You want to make a Turducken? Knock yourself out, but just don't stray too far from the playbook. You can have a molecular gastronomy-themed dinner party next week. Let's let Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving and your loved ones eat their potatoes.
  • 7 Expecting That Every Morsel Of Food Everyone Eats Will Be Piping Hot From The Oven
    No, no, no, no, no. That is what gravy is for.
  • 8 Not Making Your Gravy In Advance
    YouTube: Food Wishes
    There is literally no moment in the entire year that it is more stressful to make gravy than the moment your turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving day. Because that is GO TIME. It is get-everything-else-warm-and-ready-time. It is pour-the-wine-time. After making my gravy a few days ahead of time once, I will never, ever go back. I follow this recipe (with a splash of wine because that's how I am) every year and it has improved my life immeasurably.

    Since the gravy is the only thing that absolutely must come to the table piping hot on Thanksgiving, you want to get this one right with as little stress as possible. This way you can just reheat, add additional drippings and enjoy your dinner.

    Get the Turkey Wing Gravy recipe from Food Wishes
  • 9 Mangling Your Turkey
    Once you know what you are doing, carving a turkey is as easy as carving a roast chicken -- it's just a lot bigger.

    Check out our step-by-step turkey-carving guide here
  • 10 Taking Things Too Seriously
    Kristian Sekulic via Getty Images
    At the end of the day, it is just dinner with people who probably love you. If you burn the turkey skin, just take it off. If you forget to buy a turkey, order pizza and eat it with gravy. Don't freak out about Thanksgiving and it will taste better, promise.

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