How Ina Garten Tackles Thanksgiving Appetizers To Avoid Stress

Stress and the Thanksgiving holiday go together like mashed potatoes and gravy. Timing is everything — from prepping veggies and broth days before to deciding when the turkey goes in the oven so you can make room for the green bean casserole. Preparing even a small holiday meal can be an education in logistics and time management. And don't even get us started on appetizers!

There definitely has been some debate about whether Thanksgiving appetizers are even necessary, as it's estimated folks are consuming 3,000-4,500 calories on the holiday, according to My Recipes. Still, sometimes the wait for the main course can be lengthy, and you don't want your guests getting ravenous, so you're almost obliged to whip up a pimento cheese dip or an eggplant Caponata crostini. Getting stressed yet?

Luckily, the queen of the cozy kitchen, empress of effortless, has tips on managing Thanksgiving stress that won't force you to crowd the oven or handle a mountain of extra dishes on the big day. 

Only make one thing. Buy the rest.

"There's no such thing as an effortless Thanksgiving," Ina Garten admits, " you just have to be strategic about it," she tells Bon Appétit. And you're in good hands, as Ina knows what she's talking about. She has published 13 cookbooks with titles like "How Easy Is That" and her most recent "Go-To Dinners." So, when strategizing about how to feed guests, she keeps her appetizers very simple.

According to Garten, she only makes appetizer item and buys the rest, per Bon Appétit. She warns that otherwise you risk spending just as much time making appetizers as you would for dinner. Instead, choose something you can make weeks or even months in advance that stores in the freezer and purchase the rest. Small items that don't require any extra work, like nuts, cured meats, olives, and even fresh vegetables take the edge off hungry guests' appetites and let you focus on the main course, and hopefully relax and enjoy the day as well. After all, she says, "your friends will have more fun if you're happy and having a good time with them."