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Thanksgiving hacks to help you get ready for the big meal

Chef Jill Aker Ray gets us prepared for the holiday

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Thanksgiving is almost here.   Here are some hacks from Chef Jill Aker Ray to help you get ready.

Plan ahead and set a schedule that works.  Trying to get everything done the same day as cooking a large meal is a time bomb waiting to go off.  Instead, take an hour today, right now if you can, to set pen to paper and get organized.

Write up a checklist of everything that needs to be purchased, taken out of storage, cleaned, thawed, pressed, set up, or prepped in any way. Then set some time aside in the days leading up to your big meal to get all of the various tasks done.

Dry brine the bird. Skip the messy wet brine, and instead, dry bring your bird with herbed salt for juicy meat and a beautiful, golden skin three days before cooking.

Gather and prep your cookware and tools a few days beforehand. This way, you know you have everything you need.

Buy your desserts! It will save you time and you'll be supporting local businesses and bakeries.

Chop and prep veggies the day before. This can be an enjoyable task with a family member, while chatting over a glass of wine.

And finally, set your table the night before.    And serve your meal as a buffet.