7 Ways To Ruin Holiday Dinners

Cringing at the thought of preparing Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? See how we solve these seasonal dilemmas with quick food fixes.

  • <p>Holiday Dinner Hang-ups</p>
    Article: Dawn Williams, Photo: Judith Haeusler/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Holiday Dinner Hang-ups

    There’s just something about holiday dinners that puts you in a tizzy. Maybe it’s the idea of cooking for a crowd...or the mere thought of cooking anything that doesn’t come out of a box with instructions?

    Whatever the case may be, here are some holiday hang-ups that are more common than you think. And at least get a good laugh at knowing you’re not alone.

  • <p>Banishing the Bird</p>
    Article: Dawn Williams, Photo: James Carrier

    Banishing the Bird

    Dinner dilemma: I want to roast a turkey for our holiday dinner, but it’s so intimidating! And what if mine looks like the one Clark Griswold cut into in Christmas Vacation? My blood pressure is rising just thinking about the bird...I’ll leave it off the menu.

    Holiday help: Whoa, sister! Before you mangle your menu, let’s have turkey talk. First, choose the right size turkey for your crowd. When roasting, check the temperature often and be sure to baste. Then, use the proper carving technique for the best cuts of meat. For more details, check out Turkey 101.

  • <p>10 Pounds-a-Packing</p>
    Article: Dawn Williams, Photo: Cooking Light

    10 Pounds-a-Packing

    Dinner dilemma: If I want to get in that little black dress for parties this season, there’s no way I can serve traditional holiday fare. With all the butter and bread, I always feel like I’ve gained 10 pounds in one day. I need to go ahead and program Jenny Craig’s number in my phone.

    Holiday help: Before you call Jenny, there are healthier versions of traditional recipes that cut way back on the fat and calories. (See Cooking Light’s Ultimate Holiday Cookbook.) And remember portion control...just because your hubby goes back for seconds and thirds, doesn’t mean you have to. Now reward yourself by celebrating in that little black dress!

  • <p>Kids Gone Wild</p>
    Article: Dawn Williams

    Kids Gone Wild

    Dinner dilemma: My holiday table should be the sight of perfection. Candles glistening, side dishes steaming, you get the picture. But it's never going to happen with all the kids coming for dinner this year.

    Holiday help: You can have your picturesque table and entertain the kids, too. Children and adults alike will appreciate a kid-friendly zone. Give the little ones a kid-sized table setting, fill their tummies with our kid-approved vegetables, and provide activities for them to enjoy after dinner. Now, if you could only get them to wash the dishes...

  • <p>Compulsive Cooking</p>
    Article: Dawn Williams, Photo: Marcus Nilsson

    Compulsive Cooking

    Dinner dilemma: My intentions were good. I planned a moderate holiday spread, but once I got to baking, I couldn’t stop! Now I have enough turkey and dressing to feed the Duggar family, and leftovers gross me out.

    Holiday help: Look on the bright side...of your dishes, that is. It’s better to have too much food than not enough (at least that’s what my mother told me). So bring new life to your leftovers—like using veggies and potatoes in an Easy Shepherd’s Pie. This way, dinner is taken care of for a few nights, and you’re not left staring at a fridge full of plastic containers.

  • <p>Friends in Small Spaces</p>
    Article: Dawn Williams, Photo: Lee Harrelson  

    Friends in Small Spaces

    Dinner dilemma: I got really excited about the holidays and invited all of our friends over for dinner. Blessing: Everyone is coming. Curse: My apartment’s kitchen is about the size of my corporate cubicle. How will I ever pull this off?

    Holiday help: Unless you want to be known as the neighborhood Scrooge, uninviting guests is not an option. The keys to creating a traditional dinner in a small space are slow-cooker and make-ahead recipes. And try a turkey breast in lieu of a 20-pound bird. You can have your big dinner in a small space, it just takes a little extra planning.

  • <p>In-Law Inspection</p>
    Article: Dawn Williams, Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

    In-Law Inspection

    Dinner dilemma: We’re having my in-laws over for Thanksgiving this year, and I’m super stressed because my mother-in-law is a stickler when it comes to table etiquette. If anything is out of place, she’ll notice.

    Holiday help: Those three little words (mother-in-law) cause coronaries across the country. Because different meals call for different table settings, your stress is justified. But there is hope. Thanks to MyHomeIdeas.com, you can download all sorts of table-setting cheat sheets. Another bit of advice: You may want to try some simple holiday sides so you have plenty of time to set the table and do whatever else you may need to before the in-law arrival.

  • <p>Bibbity, Bobbity Breakdown</p>
    Article: Dawn Williams, Photo: Aurelie and Morgan David de Lossy/Cultura/Getty Images

    Bibbity, Bobbity Breakdown

    Dinner dilemma: I feel like Cinderella...before she lived happily ever after. Each year, I plan, I shop, I cook, and no matter what, there’s always a last-minute snafu. Even if I ordered pizza for our holiday dinner, something would go wrong. Please tell me this year will be better!

    Holiday help: If you’re Cinderella, consider MyRecipes your Prince Charming and our Holiday 911 Guide your glass slippers. Lumpy gravy? No self-rising flour? No worries, we’ve got answers to all of your last-minute questions. And if you still can’t find what you’re looking for, go to your Fairy Food Mother, I mean our resident expert Marge Perry. And may this holiday be a happy holiday!

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