Thanksgiving Tips for a Great Turkey (Or Something Else) Day!

November 21, 2019

We call in Turkey Day but here's a secret you might not know: Here in Southern California some of us prefer… fish!

Yes, that's right. According to the Food Network TV channel who did some research earlier this month, Californians have a Thanksgiving taste for an oven-baked salmon filet, ideally topped with roasted almonds.

Salmon dishes are uniquely popular in California at this time of year, says the network, who dug into favorite Thanksgiving recipes in each state.

But whatever you eat, planning ahead for this special Holiday will make it easier -- whether you're the host, the guest, or you just want to get out and enjoy yourself. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to make this Thanksgiving as stress-free as possible, and memorable -- for the right reasons.

When You're the Thanksgiving Cook

Whether you're cooking for just yourself, your family, or a whole retinue of guests, planning the event as far ahead as possible will cut out some of the pressures of the big day.

Everything revolves around the food so, first, you need to be sure that what you're planning -- turkey, salmon or something completely different -- works for everyone who'll be eating.

This year, we're seeing more people generally opting for vegetarian or even vegan (no meat, no dairy) diets. If they're among your guests, don't despair; you can easily cook up a great meal either just for them or for everyone.

Here's a great list of Thanksgiving vegan recipes:

Once you've got your menu, shop as early as possible, bearing in mind that fresh produce still has to be left till the last minute. But if you want to get that chore out of the way early, consider buying frozen -- some frozen produce actually tastes better and has more nutritional value than fresh products.

Also, if you plan to ask guests to bring dishes, tell them exactly what you want. Don’t just ask them to "bring something" or you'll end up with too much pumpkin pie -- as if there could be such a thing!

For the big day itself, here are two other important considerations:

Safety, safety, safety. More people end up in the ER with burns and other injuries on Thanksgiving than almost any other day. So:

  • Do a quick risk spotting walk-through of your home the week before, removing trip and slip hazards and thinking about the risks to young guests or those with special needs.
  • Keep inquisitive kids and other guests out of the kitchen and follow food safety cooking and storing guides. Check out for more on this.
  • Check and replenish (or buy) a first aid kit to deal with minor accidents.
  • Have a fire extinguisher close to hand, and an evacuation plan, just in case.
  • Don't let any guest drink and drive. Take their keys if necessary -- and have that spare bedroom prepared for an overnighter.

Keeping the peace. It's so sad that what is supposed to be a day of celebration too often turns into something ugly. It can bring out the worst in those friends and family who are keen on foisting their opinions on others. Limit the risk of that happening by:

  • Separating known "difficult" people at the dinner table.
  • Banning political discussions at the outset and then intervening if people start down that route.
  • Having a good line up of entertainment -- party games (avoid the very competitive types), videos or even a guest entertainer.
  • Limit access to booze. Try your best to keep the bottles away from those who imbibe too much.

When You're a Thanksgiving Guest

Just because you're not cooking doesn’t let you off the hook in playing your part in a successful Thanksgiving celebration. Here's what you need to do to be the perfect guest.

  • Plan your journey in advance and leave early so you don't disappoint your host by turning up late.
  • If you have special dietary requirements that your host may not know about, let them know, or consider bringing your own pre-cooked meal or ingredients.
  • If there's a potluck element to the meal, check with the host on what they would like you to bring. Don’t just take your own favorite dish!
  • If you're with a group, make sure you have a nominated (non-drinking) driver. If you're solo, don't drink and drive. Otherwise arrange transport or book into a local hotel.
  • Take a thoughtful gift (example: wine, flowers or something extra-special) -- but give it privately to your host, so that those who weren't as thoughtful as you aren't embarrassed.
  • When you arrive and get settled, ask what you can do to help, and then pitch in.
  • If you have young kids, keep them out of the kitchen and make sure they've brought their own entertainment with them.
  • Join in the games, but don’t play to win. Just have fun.
  • Don’t discuss politics! You'll never change anyone's opinion anyway.

When You Just Want to Get Away From it All for Thanksgiving

Not everyone wants to take part in the traditional rituals of Thanksgiving. They just want to get away from it all.

Even those who've eaten a feast eventually want to get out and about.

Fortunately, there's plenty to do in the Greater Los Angeles area, especially over the Thanksgiving weekend. For instance, there's the Hollywood Christmas Parade, the Turkey Trot at Long Beach (or, yes, a Tofurkey Trot in Pasadena) or holiday ice-skating in Pershing Square.

Plus, of course, this is the start of the movie blockbuster season, so perhaps plan a visit to Grauman's, El Capitan or the Cinerama on Sunset.

Or perhaps you just want to get out of town and enjoy a special location where someone else does the cooking.

Whatever your choice, for more ideas and information on Thanksgiving events and getaways, check out these lists:,

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Stay Protected

Accidents do happen, even with the best precautions in the world. If you're hosting this Thanksgiving Day, the biggest risks you face are injuries from falls and other accidents, breakages and fires.

We hope none of these happen to you. But all of these hazards are covered in a good homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy. If you don’t have this protection already, please contact us at Aldrich Taylor Insurance.

For now, we wish you Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Turkey Day or even Happy Salmon Day!