This is what happens to me when I’m planning a large-scale party: As I go along, I tell myself that WAY too many things can be done at the last minute: “Oh, I can mash these potatoes right before dinner.” “I’ll make the dip a little before the guests arrive.” “I’ll whip the cream just before dessert.” And then, suddenly, that last minute is packed with fifty-three no-big -deal tasks that make what was intended to be a relaxed meal . . . not.  
If this sounds familiar, then we can be friends. But just know that this year I’m determined to stave off the chicken-with-its-head-cut-off syndrome that I fall prey to time and time again. I’m going to make (almost) everything ahead of time, and reheat come the big day. Here’s how it’s going to go down in my house on Thanksgiving, and (in a perfect world) at other future gatherings:  

1. Goat Cheese and Chive Deviled Eggs

Even though a big meal is on the horizon, a few nibbles are called for ahead of time. These eggs can be made a day ahead and pulled from the fridge right before the guests arrive (they’re best at room temperature, not too chilled, in my opinion).  

2. Roasted Butternut Squash

The squash can be peeled and cubed one or two days before, tossed on a baking sheet with butter and seasonings the morning of, and then flung into the oven an hour before serving.  

3. Mashed Potatoes

This is another perfect make-ahead dish. (Really! They reheat beautifully. No one will ever know!) I'll make them one or even two days before. Then, on the day of, I’ll take them out of the fridge and bring them to room temperature a couple of hours before the meal. Right before dinner, they'll get reheated in a big, heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, and blended with a bit of extra milk and a pat or two of butter to unstiffen them.  

4. Sautéed Kale and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

The ingredients can get prepped and the bacon baked a couple of days in advance, and the dish gets finished the night before--leaving it slightly undercooked. Then it just needs reheating in the microwave, so it won't take up precious stovetop space.  

5. Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Gratin

This is a great addition to a holiday meal, because it works perfectly as both a robust main dish for vegetarians and an interesting side for everyone else. It can be baked ahead of time and reheated in the oven before serving.  

6. Simple Lemon-Garlic Roasted Turkey

I’ll make the Garlic, Lemon, and Rosemary Rub and smear it on the turkey (for Thanksgiving I'll do a whole bird, not just the breast) the day before Thanksgiving. Then, into the fridge it goes. The morning of, it will go into the oven to roast. And here’s the truth: Turkey needs to sit for a while before you carve it, and it stays warm for quite some time, so don’t feel like you have to time the bird to come out of the oven right when you’re ready to eat. It can sit for an hour or so.  

7. The Best Streusel Apple Pie Ever

The pie will be made the day before, refrigerated overnight, and taken out of the fridge before dinner so that it comes to room temperature in time for dessert. I’ll whip the cream in the morning and hold it in the fridge. Oh, wait. Better yet, I’ll get someone else to whip the cream.  
I feel more relaxed already,