Most of my holiday disasters involve drinking. I'm not talking about a drunk grandma who can't keep her top on, that's just bound to happen. I'm talking about having enough booze to last the day. I am borrowing some fantastic advice from John Cheese at cracked.com, "plan out what you think you need, then triple that order." If you've been to some of the family thanksgivings I've seen, you're just going to have to expect that everything is going to turn into a shit-show.
Choose the least boozy of your relatives to supervise meal preparation. Everyone might love Aunt Linda's famous margarita pool parties, but we all know that the kitchen apron quip, "I cook with wine, sometimes it even goes in the food" was written about her. That is why, while she's welcome you help out in the kitchen (maybe keep her away from knives), you should choose your newly sober uncle or your timid, mousy cousin to make sure that nobody burns down the house. Or that the oven gets turned on. Or so that nobody gets poisoned.
Your frozen turkey will probably come with a plastic bag full of guts shoved up its butt. It's best to take that out before you start cooking your turkey. Plan ahead so you have time to thaw your turkey. If you don't plan ahead, you'll be sucking on raw, frozen turkey instead of fighting over the drumsticks. If you do it right, your oven-roasted turkey will taste just as good as his deep-fat-fried brother, not to mention that roasting is easier to clean up and caries a much lower potential for an explosion. If you like explosions, watch this:
Make what you can
Stick to recipes you have tried before, especially if there is anything technically complicated. There's nothing like grossing everybody out with the balsamic-glazed butternut squash and sage-scented tart-a-tain you read about in O! magazine, especially when all anyone was looking forward to was pumpkin pie made from Libby-brand pumpkin puree. TLC had it right, at least about Thanksgiving: "please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to."
PS: I'll be taking Sanchez with me to my family Thanksgiving, so I expect he'll come up with a lot to say about it. Cheers!