Whether you are cooking the meal, being a guest, traveling, or just hanging with your pets for Thanksgiving, we have some tips for a safe and successful holiday!

For the host:

There are plenty of resources for cooking a delicious meal, but remember this clever acronym:

T: Thaw turkey at a safe temperature – 40 degrees or below
U: Use extra caution when frying a turkey, and oil-free fryers if possible
R: Remember to clean all cooking surfaces regularly
K: Keep children away from hot foods and surfaces, and kitchen utensils
E: Ensure turkey has cooked completely and reached a minimum temperature of 165 degrees
Y: Your smoke detector should be tested prior to cooking!

Thanksgiving is one of the most notorious days for home cooking fires, so the National Fire Protection Association has some safety tips to consider as well:

  • Don’t leave your cooking turkey unattended. If you have last minute errands, wait until it is out of the oven.
  • Children love to help with the cooking, but make sure they are protected from accidental burns by keeping them away from hot vegetables, gravy, or liquids that could splash them.
  • Keep flammable items like pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, and towels away from the stove and oven.
  • Once the meal is done, make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances have been turned off. It’s easy to overlook a pot that is set to simmer on low.

Plan the right portions! According to the Department of Health and Human Services, at least 28 billion pounds of edible food is wasted each Thanksgiving. Here are some guidelines to consider:

Amount per person:

  • Turkey – 1 pound
  • Stuffing and mashed potatoes – ¼ pound each
  • Sweet potato casserole – ¼ pound
  • Green beans- ¼ pound
  • Cranberry sauce – 3 tablespoons
  • Pumpkin Pie – 1/8 slice of 9” pie

For the guest:

  • If you are heading to Thanksgiving with family or friends, don’t forget a few basic etiquette tips, courtesy of thekitchn.com!
  • Let your host know well in advance if you have specific dietary needs, such as food allergies, gluten-free, vegetarian, etc. Better yet, offer to bring a dish to address these needs so your host doesn’t have to plan additional cooking.
  • If you are bringing a dish, be sure to supply your own serving bowl and utensils.
  • Bring a thank you gift. It can be something as simple as a bottle of wine or a candle or flowers for the dinner table, or some breakfast items for the host to use the following morning, such as cinnamon rolls, sausages, and juice.
  • Don’t arrive early, but don’t be more than 30 minutes late, either!
  • Offer to help with the cooking, and especially with the cleanup!
  • Be an attentive guest; have your phone handy for pictures, but otherwise, leave it off!
  • Be gracious. Even if the food is not to your liking, keep it to yourself.
  • Don’t forget to say thank you, and even consider dropping a note in the mail.

For the traveler:

  • The day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest traveling days of the year! But with proper planning, you can navigate it like a pro.
  • If you are having a short trip home for the holiday, pack a carry-on and don’t check luggage. Not only will you save money on baggage fees, you will have assurance your luggage arrives at the same place and time you do!
  • Check in and print your boarding pass at home. This saves a stop at the airline desk once you reach the airport.
  • Be ready for TSA: wear slip-on shoes, remove your jacket, empty your pockets, and prepare your laptop before you get to the conveyor. Remember to leave all liquids over three ounces behind, too!
  • Expect a delay. Have your phone or tablet loaded up with books, music, movies, and games to help pass the time if your flight is delayed. Don’t forget your headphones or earbuds! Since power outlets aren’t always available, bring a portable battery pack along with your charging cable.
  • Stay comfortable. Snacks, tissues, gum, medication for headaches or upset stomachs, and a travel pillow can all make a difference in your traveling experience. Airports and planes are notoriously chilly, so even a light blanket can be worth space in your travel bag.

For the pets:

Our pets probably love Thanksgiving for the smells alone. But the smells should be all they experience! The Maryland SPCA has some great advice…when it comes to Thanksgiving food, just say NO:

  • No turkey drumsticks: the bones can splinter and lodge in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.
  • No stuffing: sage and other herbs used in Thanksgiving stuffing have oils and resins that can cause upset stomachs and even nervous system problems. It also can contain onion and garlic, which are toxic to dogs.
  • No pumpkin pie: this treat often contains nutmeg, which can cause nervous system issues and can even be fatal.
  • Not even table scraps! Your pet isn’t used to fatty, rich foods, and they can end up with stomach cramps and diarrhea, or worse conditions like pancreatitis.

Most important, remember to take some time to relax and enjoy yourself! Spending time with friends and family is one of the best parts of the Thanksgiving holiday!