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Tips for cooking, hosting and attending the big Thanksgiving meal from Sauce Magazine

Sauce Magazine is out with their 2017 Guide to the Holidays.
(Courtesy: Sauce Magazine)
Sauce Magazine is out with their 2017 Guide to the Holidays.

Thanksgiving Day is one of the biggest days of the year for cooking and entertaining. Our friends at Sauce Magazine are back for our monthly edition of Sound Bites and have tips for cooking, hosting and attending events this Thursday.

Joining St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh were:

  • Heather Hughes, managing editor of Sauce Magazine
  • Meera Nagarajan, art director of Sauce Magazine
  • Marianne Moore, creative director at the Dierbergs School of Cooking
Tips and Tricks

Start with a plan.

“First things first, you just need to start with a plan,” Hughes said. “For Thanksgiving or any big entertaining meal, you can’t do everything, you can’t go over the top with every single dish.”

“It should be a realistic plan,” Marianne Moore added. “Everything looks amazing on paper and even for a chef, we look at everything and want to do everything.”

Details matter.

“When you’re entertaining, it’s details that really matter and these are things that don’t have to take much energy,” Hughes said. “If you pick up a few different cheeses when you’re at the store and have them ready when guests walk in, it feels like this big presentation when it takes zero effort.”

Bring a gift for the host or hostess.

“It’s always nice to bring a hostess gift,” said Meera Nagarajan. She suggested bringing the following day’s breakfast.

Set the table ahead of time.

“That’s a must for me,” Moore said. “I get so food focused that I get into the kitchen and then all of the sudden – of course I take on too much – and time is starting to run out and I never get to set my table properly.”

Guests: Come prepared.

“If you’re bringing food to someone else’s house, don’t assume you get any oven space,” Hughes said. “If you’re bringing a dish bring everything you need to serve the dish. You either communicate very well about what the expectations are or just bring everything you need with what you’re bringing.”

Don’t discuss politics or drink too much

“Gatherings are to catch up with friends and keep things light,” Moore said. “I think you get those opinionated guests and then of course there’s alcohol involved.

“You don’t want to drink a ton of booze either and booze it up at a friend’s house and they have to call an Uber to get you home. That’s kind of a big no-no.”

Cleaning the dishes

“If it’s family, just get up and help out,” Hughes said.

Drink the good wine first

“Open the good wine first,” Nagarajan said. “Pick out a couple of bottles that are a little bit kind of different or special and open those first when your pallet is fresh and you can really appreciate it and then transition to table wine later.”

Keep the big picture in mind

“Give yourself a break,” Moore said. “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.

“Days like that have a way of taking on a life of their own. Don’t be so busy and so focused on perfection. Focus on being with your family and your friends and just sharing food. That’s really what it’s all about to entertain.”


Sound Bites is produced in partnership with Sauce Magazine, our monthly installment exploring cuisine in the St. Louis area.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.