Thanksgiving dinner disasters — and how to avoid them


Has the Thanksgiving turkey ever gotten away from you? Ever mixed up an essential ingredient for a dish? Tangled with pets or relatives? If you’ve ever had a Thanksgiving dinner disaster you are not alone. We asked our readers to share their Thanksgiving disaster stories.

Cristeta Boarini: When I was about 10, my Grandma was finishing up making Thanksgiving dinner for a large family gathering (16 aunts and uncles, 20+ grandkids). All she had left to do was make the gravy. She had the turkey drippings in a pan and she asked my Grandpa to hand her the green Tupperware she keeps the flour in.

As she was adding the flour, she realized the gravy was not thickening, and was getting rather lumpy. But it was getting late, so she decided to serve the gravy, even though it wasn’t the right consistency. As we kids went through the buffet line, we realized the gravy was the most delicious thing ever, while the adults thought the gravy was kind of gross.

This is because my Grandma accidentally put about two cups of powdered sugar in the gravy, rather than flour, because someone had switched the containers she keeps her baking goods in. Grandma never made Thanksgiving dinner again after that day.

Craig Martin Stellmacher: My mom brought the turkey out of the kitchen to the dining room table and promptly dropped it on the floor one year. Without losing a beat she said:

“I’ll bring out the other turkey!” (There was of course NO other turkey.)
But this phrase stuck, and became a catch phrase in my family:
“Bring out the other turkey!” 


Karen Hanson Collins: So, when I was in college, I was dating this guy from Russia. We had been together for over a year and for some reason, we decided Thanksgiving would be the perfect occasion for us to introduce our parents to each other. It was decided that his parents would host. His parents did not speak English very well and they were Jewish. My parents were very down-home type folks who were born-again Christians.

The event started out with my dad reaching out to pet their cat, who swiftly bit him hard and drew quite a bit of blood. Embarrassed, my boyfriend’s dad grabbed a first aid kit & tried to apologize in Russian & my dad had no idea what he was saying. Super awkward.

We sat down to dinner. My parents had brought my aunt, who was widowed without children (she joined us for every holiday), and she had been showing signs of dementia in recent months. She asked who was doing the Thanksgiving prayer and we all clammed up; knowing each family came from very different religious backgrounds. My aunt of course forgot about this and she suddenly broke out into a prayer about how thankful we are that Jesus died on the cross to save our sins. I wanted to just crawl under the dinner table.

Lastly, the long-awaited meal was passed around the table. Turns out the typical Thanksgiving meal is not exactly the same in Russia as it is in the States and my parents’ anticipation of roasted turkey with stuffing and sweet potatoes was quickly and obviously deflated as they quietly pushed their food around on their plates as we all sat in silence. That dinner couldn’t have ended faster.


Stay safe while cooking this Thanksgiving

The Minneapolis Fire Department encourages folks to follow these simple rules whenever they’re cooking:

• Have working smoke alarms – the photoelectric type are better to have near the kitchen.

• Remain in the kitchen when using the stovetop. If you have to leave, turn the stovetop off until you return.

• Stay awake, and in the house, while using the oven. If you have to leave the house, turn the oven off until you return.

• Keep your cooking area clean; keep towels, hot pad holders, storage containers, and other combustibles away from the hot stove.

• Keep children and pets away from the oven and stove.

For more information about fire safety visit

or check out the City of Minneapolis’ kitchen fire safety video, available in EnglishSpanishSomali and Hmong on the City’s YouTube channel.

Not all Thanksgiving disasters are funny. In a November 16 press release, the Minneapolis Fire Department warned that, “There are more cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year in the U.S. Sixty-nine percent of home fires on Thanksgiving Day are cooking fires, as opposed to an average of 42 percent the rest of the year.”

Websites offering advice for avoiding holiday stress abound. One such site, Psych Central, offers a special report entitled Coping with Thanksgiving, including links to 30 articles on a variety of topics from coping with difficult family members, to grieving a recent death in the family, to avoiding overeating.

Of course we hope you will have a happy Thanksgiving, and that any mishaps will later become amusing holiday memories.