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  1. #1

    Default Need Family / Thanksgiving Dinner Advice, please!

    I love the yummy foods of Thanksgiving. My MIL likes the holiday too, but isnt the best cook. Most things come out of a can (gravy, cranberries, corn) or a box (stuffing, pie).
    Some years ago, DH and I decided the best way to avoid the angst was to go to Vegas for the week. Which worked great. But this year, we arent going, and Ive been pinned down and committed to going to MIL's house. And she thinks I dont like turkey, when it was just apparently that I didnt like some previous episode of turkey (years ago now). But she reminds me every time it comes up that I do not like turkey.
    I do really enjoy the traditional T-day dinner. Last year, in December, I made the feast for some weekday night, and was petrified that DS10 would mention it to his Grandma.

    What is the grown up, reasonable thing to do? Do I graciously endure the meal at her house, and make my own version of it later, in secret? Do I attempt to negotiate either xmas or t-day cooking, but then she will know THE TRUTH that I dont dislike the meal? Do I offer to make the side dishes, and will they be fine being cooked in advance and brought to her house?
    Is there another solution that I havent thought of?
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  2. T4L In Forum Nov19
  3. #2


    I am cooking for my MIL this year. She likes it better that way! She cooks just fine, just has a hard time managing so many details- too many foods, too many things to do, it stresses her out, so I do it. I've hosted even the extended family when it's her turn b/c it just works out better at my house. She buys the turkey, I cook it! She has some items she prefers to fix, so it works out perfectly. I think offering to help with sides is a great idea- then you know there are things there you can eat and enjoy. We go to one extended family TG on my side- think 60 people or more. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of good cooks on this side, so I always make stuff that my family will eat... but a few times it's been gone by the time they go through the line! My DH always wants to know what me, my mom and my SIL make- because he knows those foods are safe. Everything else, you just don't ever know- could be great, could be weird, could be awful. We normally have smoked turkey, regular turkey and ham- but it's all made ahead b/c it's too hard to cook so much in one day. What about talking to MIL about some great recepies that you've recently tried or found on-line, telling her you'd like to help with dinner and make those things? Phrase it like you want to help her
    Mom to 5 great kids~

  4. #3


    What do the other dinner attendees want? DH? DS#1? DS#2? If they are with you, demand change and blame it on them!! LOL!!!

    Sorry.....these logistical dynamics can be a pain when feelings are thrown in.

    Maybe just offer to do the parts of the meal that you really want done your way. Maybe offer to prepare the meal together in the same kitchen working together....I know that can be tough, but that might be something she enjoys, and if I remember correctly, you and your MIL get along.

    I get no help. In my tiny kitchen that is a bonus. But that is because no one else cooks. I do think it would be fun to do it the way my mother, her sisters, and my grandmother used to do it

    It'll be fine....
    Homeschooling two sons (14 and 16) from day one. Atheist.
    Eclectic, Slackschooler covering 8th and 10th grades this year.

  5. #4


    I would probably volunteer to bring some side dishes. Especially the favorites for your family.

    Make your own cranberry sauce or gravy to cover the turkey. Dry turkey can be dealt with. Underdone turkey is a whole different matter.

    Even if she says no, you can just say oh don't worry, it is no bother, I would love to do it and just bring them. I think it is one of those holidays that you can just state, that there is no such thing as having too many options for the holiday.

    Or you can have it at your house. Tell her you have discovered your love of all things turkey and thanksgiving foods and you want to share.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Arrived RTB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012


    Boxed stuffing *shivers*

    I'd offer to bring sides. I always offer to bring the pie and whipped cream, because crisco pie crust and cool whip are disgusting and a favorite in my extended family.

    In regards to the turkey, you could tell her you decided to try it again, but you used different spices / cooking method / whatever, and it turns out you do like it. but only this way. Blame it on tastes changing, or a new recipe, or the brine.
    DS 14, DD 12
    Year 8

  7. #6


    My mom does the meat and main side. My sis did her favorite sides. I did the bread (rolls can take FOREVER) and desert. It was EASY in our family.

    Now, my husband's family? ohhhh that was a nightmare of epic proportions. I stayed out of that and only did precisely what was assigned me and assumed my m-i-l would hate it anyway.

    I agree with RTB on the turkey. Tell her you found a fabulous new recipe to try with it, and wouldn't you know, it made you like turkey again!

  8. #7


    FWIW I have never ever enjoyed a meal at my MIL's house, and that is why I do Thanksgiving. Plus as a secularist, there really *is* only one holiday on my calendar and it's...awesome. Like ML my kitchen is tiny so nobody gets to bother me in there.

    I missed my window though with taking this year's turkey to the butcher so I also need to DIY. Sigh.
    Eclectically homeschooling 8th grade dd, who likes science as much as art...

  9. #8


    My first option would be to host it, my second would be to bring sides, especially those that aren't hot or that can be made in a crockpot. I would frame it as, "Oh, MIL, you do so much work and I love cooking."

    We have spent Thanksgiving with friends for the last eleven years and I love it. Not that I don't love spending it with our families, but there is something special about sharing it with good friends. The last couple of years have been a little tough, though. I'm definitely more of a foodie, but keep the traditional in there because my husband loves it. A nice blend, I like to think. But the last two years have been with friends that have the blandest taste, and not a ton of cooking talent (the food isn't bad, just not very flavorable, and a lot of things out of cans/boxes). And they don't drink. I like creating the whole picture: appetizers, meal, dessert, and drinks that compliment every stage. We went to their place the first year, so I offered to have them last year. But they were having family over, too, so it was at thier house again (after meeting the family, I don't think they would have mind coming to our house at all).

    Enter in super-heroes from Portland! Some other friends invited us to their house, usually my husband doesn't like to go there because they have a tiny house and he doesn't like being crammed in, but I told him to suck it up, Buttercup, because it gets me out of Thanksgiving hell!

    And I feel horrible writing that all. But thank goodness...

    I feel your pain Alexmom! Maybe your MIL would secretly love someone else to cook it all. In our last town, I cooked everything at my friend's house. They just built a beautiful new house, and she was a clean freak, but hated to cook. I'm the total opposite. Cooking without cleaning is the best!

  10. #9


    Thanks everyone! I think Im going to mention that Id like to cook some sides to share.

    If I can weasel into cooking the entire meal, that would be ideal, but I am not holding my breath on that one.

    I dont know how turkey can be salvaged when canned gravy or boxed yellow salty stuffing is used, so I guess that part is going to be what it is.
    I think the technique that would magically make me like turkey would be using the pan drippings to make gravy, and making a more upscale stuffing. But you cant really ask someone to do that ,can you? (I think the reason she decided I didnt like turkey was because without having consumable gravy, I wouldnt put much on my plate.)
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  11. #10


    I briefly fought the Holiday Meal Battle with my in-laws, and after a few years of snide comments about my efforts, I gave up. The complaint 2 years ago was that I did too nice a job, it was "too fancy", and it makes their efforts look cheap. Please note: I did not serve caviar or champagne. It was turkey. And it was a buffet. I wore jeans! But I served it on my grandmother's china and used my great-grandmother's flatware, and that was apparently a source of many conversations about all of my "East Coast Money". Errrr, okie dokie.

    It's easy for me to give up on it, though, because for some odd reason, they all prefer to celebrate the holiday on any day *other than the actual holiday*. So They have Thanksgiving on the weekend after, or Christmas a week in advance. And then on the actual holiday, every one stays home by themselves. It's the damndest thing. So this year, they are all off on some other random day, eating turkey from Honey Baked Ham off paper plates, while I am not dealing with any of their b.s., and then on Thanksgiving, I am making a fantastic dinner for DH, myself and DS8. They can drop by if they feel like it, but I am putting forth zero effort for them.

    It's the first year that I am feeling pretty good about the holidays, and not feeling like a loser for failing to unify everyone for the holidays. F*ck em.

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Need Family / Thanksgiving Dinner Advice, please!