Christmas In July Part 2: Your Tur-“Key” to Summer Holiday Dinner Done Easy

Posted on Jul 19 2014 - 9:36am by Brenda Meehan

Practically Perfect Planner’s tried and true Merry Menu for Summer entertaining, complete with “For Better or For Worse” Canadian Cartoonist Lynn Johnston’s no fail, make-ahead turkey! Her no muss, no fuss simple serving suggestion allows you to spend less time in the kitchen, and more time mingling with your family and friends! Making this holiday bird her way couldn’t have been simpler, or more delicious.


A little backstory on Lynn and I…we’ve been friends for almost 25 years! While living in the same Northern Ontario town of North Bay…I had the privilege to work on many community projects with this down to earth, incredibly funny Canadian celebrity. Through laughs and lunches, the two of us became fast friends.  Years ago, Lynn had a guest chef visiting her that showed her a few tricks of the trade!

To serve your bird Lynn’s way, all you have to do is prepare your turkey the way you would traditionally…but do it a few hours earlier! (Be careful not to overcook.) We scored a delicious turkey at a great price from WinCo…it was less than $20 for a 14 lb bird! We popped our turkey in the oven at 12 noon to finish around 4:30pm so we could try out Lynn’s time-saving tips! With all of our other dishes prepped the day before, this gave us time to get our gravy started, and finish up our holiday table. Once your turkey is done, you simply remove the bird from the oven, and prepare to carve it.

1. Carefully remove the skin from the breast of your turkey, set aside…be sure to reserve all of your pan drippings and remove your stuffing. Cover your stuffing in an oven safe dish to  warm and serve with your turkey.

2. Carve up your bird as you normally would and arrange it beautifully on your favorite holiday platter to serve later.

3. Drizzle some of your pan drippings over the meat, and cover your meat with the skin reserved from carving. This will keep your meat juicy and moist! Then wrap your whole platter in tin foil, and set to rest on the counter until you’re ready to heat and serve. Now, you can finish up your gravy with the remaining drippings from your pan and your dinner is almost complete!

**THE BEST PART: Now you’re able to clean up and have quality “hang-time” with your guests when they arrive! Pour drinks, have snacks, mix and mingle in the holiday spirit: no stress, no mess + no carving at the table while your food gets cold!**

4. When you’re about 20-30 minutes from serving-time, pop your platter in a warm oven to heat up.

5. Take platter from oven, remove your foil, carefully remove skin covering the meat…and pour lots of hot delicious gravy over your meat! You’re all set! We used parsley and dried cranberries for the Practically Perfect fast garnish. 

Lynn, you are a LIFESAVER! This turned out deliciously, our big dish-washing was done ahead of time, and we got to enjoy a ton of talk-time with our guests and family. Thank you so much for this sensational serving suggestion. We’ll never do this any other way…our turkey was SO moist and flavorful!


With our delicious turkey, we also prepared most of the trimmings the day before to help beat the heat, but still have a cool menu.
Here’s how we kept it simple with seasonal sides:

Cooking Light’s Warm Potato Salad with Herbs and Grilled Summer Squash


This recipe serves 6: Check it out HERE!

This was certainly a unique turn from traditional mashed or roasted potatoes, but it included yummy yellow squash grilled to perfection, and was so tasty that we’ll be making it again and again for sure! The herbs complimented the turkey beautifully; tasting summery and fresh.

Up next: Marinated Make-Ahead Veggie Salad:


Thank you to our friend Mary for sharing her family’s go-to salad recipe with us, delish! This was our fun play on the traditional holiday green bean casserole.

Ingredients: Serves 8

1 small to medium onion chopped
1 small green pepper chopped (We also added red pepper for a little Holiday color!)
4-6 stalks of celery chopped
1 can or bag of frozen petite peas (drained)
1 can shoepeg white corn (drained)
1 can French style green beans (drained)
Vegetable Oil
Seasoned Rice Vinegar
Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder to taste

Mix all of your veggies into a large bowl, and set aside.

Dressing for Vegetables: Equal portions of vegetable oil and rice vinegar (i.e. ½ cup each), 2 packets of sugar or sweetener and a teaspoon of salt. *We added a little sprinkle of garlic powder and some fresh cracked pepper!)

Mix all of your dressing ingredients into a small bowl or large measuring cup and whisk together. Taste to see if dressing needs more sweetener/salt. If everything is a-ok, pour over vegetables, mix and let stand in refrigerator for several hours.

This is so simple to make ahead, and the results are absolutely lovely. The veggies stay crisp, the dressing has the right amount of tang, and it’s a great salad for a summer holiday…light, crisp, and cool!

Next up on the Menu…“Day Before” Dole’s Cranberry and Pineapple Minis


This cool and sweet recipe serves 12-18, and you can find it HERE!

We’ve made these in the past and absolutely adore them. Not only are they a snap to make and cute to serve, but they add a little summer zing to traditional cranberry jelly with pineapple and crunchy apple!

And of course…what would a Christmas in July party be without the dessert: Pumpkin Pie! We don’t claim to be expert bakers…so sometimes we have to call up “Auntie Marie”…aka Marie Callender’s and order up a yummy treat or two. You can order yours by checking out their website HERE!

Even this time of year, they have GREAT deals on their classic pies. We called in and picked up a whole Pumpkin Pie for $12.99…same day! Topped it with a little “Lite” Cool Whip…and VOILA! The perfect end to a Practically Perfect Planned Summer Holiday party!



Eat, drink, be merry..and be sure to like us on Facebook and share all of these Christmas in July Summer Soiree tips and tricks with your circles! How are YOU going to celebrate Christmas this Summer!? 🙂