6 Key Decisions to Make Before Your First Thanksgiving

© John Kernick
By F&W Editors Posted November 11, 2015

If this year marks the first time you will host Thanksgiving, you are not alone.

In our November issue, you can read about how star chef Tyler Florence is preparing for his holiday debut after years of ceding to his mother-in-law. Before you start prepping and freezing (which we recommend), exhale, locate some extra folding chairs and find the right Thanksgiving cooking guides for you by answering these six questions. You’re going to do great.

1. Do you want to go big or small?

Option 1: I want to blow their minds.
Here are our best recipes for a massive meal, complete with giant turkey, multiple appetizers, festive punches and big batch desserts.

Option 2: Let’s not go overboard.
Playing it safe with a small party of four? Unless you want a ton of leftovers, skip the whole turkey and roast a turkey breast instead or opt for a smaller bird like a chicken or guinea hen. Here are F&W’s best recipes for an intimate Thanksgiving.

1. Do you think mashed potatoes are boring?

Option 1: Hell no.
From classic purée to a recipe amped up with brown butter, here are F&W’s best mashed potato recipes.

Option 2. Yes. Let’s try something different.
For something a bit more spectacular, F&W’s best Thanksgiving potato recipes include giant, overstuffed twice-baked potatoes covered in cheese and a crispy sausage-stuffed potato galette..

4. Canned or fresh cranberry sauce?

Option 1. It's not Thanksgiving without the can.
You like your cranberry sauce in the shape of a cylinder and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Option 2. DIY all the way.
You’re doing everything from scratch and that includes the cranberry sauce. Whether you like it zesty with ginger or jellied with crunchy apple chunks, F&W has all the recipes for Thanksgiving cranberries that you need.

5. Pumpkin, pecan or apple pie?

Option 1: Pumpkin is pumpking.
From classic pumpkin pie to chocolate-swirled to easy press-in crust pie bars, we have the ten best pumpkin pie recipes.

Option 2: Nuts please.
Nutty, gooey and decadently sweet, pecan pie is a true pie-lover’s pie. Try one of our seven incredible recipes, like one spiked with rum and candied ginger.

Option 3: Apple.
Here are our 15 greatest apple pie recipes, including a sweet-and-savory cheddar-crusted recipe that is sure to please.

6. Extra-boozy or just a little tipsy?

Option 1: Bring on the booze.
Here are the recipes you need for a full-on Thanksgiving cocktail party. Bonus: incredible pitcher drinks like hard cider sangria and warming drinks to pair with dessert.

Option 2: Just a splash.
There’s no need for a messy, emotional meal. Keep it low-alcohol with Thanksgiving sparkling wine cocktails.

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