Adrianne Calvo: What To Do Wednesday Night To Make Thanksgiving Day Go Smoothly

The things you should do the night before — and the one thing you shouldn’t. (And it’s not all related to cooking.)

Setting the table is a whole lot easier the night before, when your guests haven't arrived yet to create a swirl of chaos.

It seemed like such a good idea, back in October, when you said, “Let’s have Thanksgiving here this year.” Now it’s the night before, and you’re moments from a meltdown — and not the buttery, gravy-covered kind, sadly.

Chefs prepare high-stakes, Thanksgiving-level dinners every time they go to work, so they’ve got lots of ways to help you get ready for tomorrow and still get to bed at a decent hour.

Create some space

The third Wednesday in November is when people all over the country turn to each other and say, “This kitchen is too small!” The fridge is crammed, the counters are overflowing, and still, there’s more food to store. Zimmern suggested, “Stop grocery shopping for everyday refrigerated basics about a week before Thanksgiving, to make more room in your fridge and make space for the turkey.”

If it’s already too late for that, Wes Martin, director of culinary production at Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street, offered a smart way to create more cold storage: “A heavy thermal cooler is an under-appreciated tool,” he said. “Fill it one-third with ice to store salads, dips, cheeses, bottles of wine and fruits overnight,” he said. “That will take the burden off of the refrigerator and give you plenty of space to see what you have.”

A “cooler” can become a “warmer,” too, he said. “After many years of catering, I’ve learned how to use a heavy cooler as a hot box, too. You can transfer a freshly roasted turkey to a clean, empty cooler, close it up tight, and it will still be steaming hot when you’re ready to carve two hours later, after the rest of the meal is ready.”

Running out of cooking surfaces is a common Thanksgiving woe. Chef Adrianne Calvo had this great idea: “Use your slow cooker or Instant Pot,” she said. “They can be lifesavers for large gatherings, because they allow you to prepare large amounts of food with minimal effort, and they’ll keep food warm throughout the meal.”