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A Last-Minute Guide to Hosting Your First Thanksgiving

Our great nation’s annual pious pilgrimage to dining room tables laden with baked birds, cranberry concoctions, and seasonal squash done ten ways is fast approaching, and the big question the day before the big event is: are you ready?

If you’re like us and inevitably millions of other Americans giving thanks for — among other things — a dependable day job, then you know how challenging balancing said dependable day job with fastidious feast preparation can be, especially when we’re all contending with the infinite number of special dietary needs that abound in the modern world. Well, fret no more because we’re taking the stress out of the final countdown to your first Turkey Day by offering you our handy guide to making it fun, making it fast, and making it fabulous. You can thank us later.

Step 1: Menu Planning

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It’s the day before the big day and you’re scrambling to come up with the perfectly coursed feast. You know that your locavore Brooklynite friends are demanding and that your foodie brother is discerning. To make matters worse, that annoying vegan cousin in college upstate just emailed saying he’s going to make it after all. Fear not fearless host(ess) with the most(ess), these menu planners will set you straight.

The Thanksgiving-erator by The New York Times

With fun, apropos themes like Modernist, Colonialist, Hedonist, Baconist and Extremist, this virtual menu generator guarantees success. Answer a few simple questions, and have your meal planned for you. Still struggling? Try The TimesThanksgiving Help Line, where the staff of the Dining Section answer any and all of your questions about your Turkey Day meal in semi-real time.

Top 26 Thanksgiving Menus by bon appétit

Detailing well thought out Thanksgiving themed menus ranging from rustic modern, “(meat)less is more” to “make-it-buy-it”, bon appétit’s Thanksgiving HQ offers endless options for every Turkey Day scenario imaginable.

Everything you need for Thanksgiving by Trader Joe’s

If either of the above are still leaving you looking like a deer caught in holiday headlights, take a deep breath and repeat after us: Trader Joe’s. They have beautiful, all-natural turkeys, fully cooked or not (more on that later), turkey(less) stuffed roasts, cornbread stuffing mix, pre-made pumpkin pies and brazen brussels sprouts on-stalk that will impress gourmands and urban farmers alike. It’s that easy.