Thanksgiving is an American tradition and the perfect time of year to experience the classics. Remember when you start to plan your Thanksgiving feast, your guests will probably want to enjoy the classics and maybe a few of your own specialties.

Planning for Turkey Day

Thanksgiving requires some planning, but with some preparation, you can put together a delicious and complete Thanksgiving meal for your family and friends. When the weeklong countdown begins to Thanksgiving Day, this would be a good time to finalize your guest lists, menu items, and create your shopping lists. This will save you a lot of heartache and headache down the road. Make sure you have everything listed, including any spices that you may need. Also, make sure to order your bird early so that you can get a fresh bird. Frozen ones just don't turn out as well as the fresher, high quality birds. Freshness is the key to a great meal.

Make sure that you have all of the tools necessary to cook your meal, too. Sharpen your knives and check your cookware to make sure that you are well stocked and can prepare all of the food that you need to cook on Thanksgiving Day. Try to be realistic when planning your meal so that you don’t overextend yourself. Your meal can be as simple or extravagant as you want it to be, but if you get too extravagant, everything might not come together on time so make sure to plan appropriately and cook some dishes in advance if you plan to go all out on Thanksgiving Day.

Getting the Turkey Just Right

“The turkey has to be the star of the show,” says Rick Rodgers, author of “Thanksgiving 101.” Gauging how much turkey to buy can be tough. A general rule of thumb is a pound to pound and a half per person. This is a safe number because you can always save the leftovers for the next day. Seasoning the turkey is an important step that can make or break the whole meal. In keeping with the classic theme, here is an excellent recipe to try for a traditional turkey taste.  Stuffing and dressing also add a savory element to your meal, so make sure to cook these dishes to give the turkey extra flavoring. If you’re looking for a great stuffing and dressing recipe, try one of these Martha Stewart recipes depending on which you think will best suit your family. Remember that a typical turkey takes 5-6 hours to cook so give yourself enough time to prepare the turkey and all of your other side dishes well before your guests arrive.

Small Touches

Offering a great wine and delicious side items can bring the whole meal together. For wine, choose a Pinot Noir if your guests enjoy a good red wine. Pinot Noir tastes wonderful with almost any food. For white wine drinkers, serve a Sauvignon Blanc instead of a Chardonnay because the Sauvignon Blanc is lighter and will complement the meal.

Some Traditional Gatlinburg Thanksgiving Side Dishes:

  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato Pie
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Pecan, Pumpkin, or Apple Pie
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  •  Buttered Rolls

Add some of these side dishes to your perfectly prepared turkey and hand selected wines, and you will be sure to delight your Thanksgiving guests and your family on Turkey Day!

Make sure to check out our Thanksgiving Bowl on Thanksgiving Day and all of our other seasonal events this year so that you can get into the holiday spirit, Gatlinburg-style!

Do you have any tips for preparing a great Thanksgiving meal or a favorite dish you think everyone should serve? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!