While there are no set rules as to how many to have, one or two is fine to go along with the mashed potatoes and stuffing. Here are a few side dish tips:
Peel potatoes in the morning or several hours in advance for mashed potatoes. Put them in a bowl of cold water and refrigerate.
Clean and prep vegetables to be used in casseroles or on their own the day before. Chop, slice or dice them and store in plastic sealable bags in the refrigerator. You can, if needed, blanch (slightly precook) the day before. Be sure they are completely dry before storing them.
Think about things you don’t eat often and try something new. It can be as simple as freshening up glazed carrots with fresh herbs such as thyme or rosemary. Or perk up those potatoes by adding mashed rutabaga or parsnips for a different flavor.
Make stuffing in advance by sauteing onions and celery and any meats the night before. Cool and store them in plastic bags. Then, on Thursday morning, reheat the vegetables to make the stuffing.
Some casserole-type dishes such as potato gratins can be assembled the day before baking. Plan on adding an extra 10 to 15 minutes baking time for the chilled dishes.
Running out of oven space? Don’t forget the outdoor grill. It’s like having an extra oven. Keep it on low (200 degrees) to keep things warm. Cover whatever you are keeping warm so it doesn’t dry out.