Don’t panic but Thanksgiving will be here before you know it! My helpful November checklist has plenty of planning tips and ideas to help get you ready for the big day! I’ve laid them out week-by-week to help better organize you and get you ready for the holiday. Keep checking back for added tips and information as we get closer and closer to the holiday. Gobble, gobble!!
THREE WEEKS BEFORE THE HOLIDAY
- Time to plan your guest list and begin reaching out to family and friends in order to get a headcount.
- Take inventory! Do you have enough paper goods, china, utensils, serving bowls and dishes, glasses, etc? Look over what you have, plan your table settings and go shopping early for items that you might be missing.
- Stock up! Thanksgiving isn’t without leftovers and if you’re planning on sending your guests home with “doggy bags” make sure you have plenty of food storage containers on hand. You can find lots of different options at restaurant supply stores, warehouse stores such as Costco and party outlet stores. Make sure to have an assortment of sizes and shapes so that everyone has what they need for leftovers.
- Plan your menu. Start thinking about what appetizers, dishes and desserts you’d like to make OR which ones you’ll need others to bring that day. Also, plan what things you can make ahead of time and freeze so that you have less work to do on the actual holiday.
- Get your home holiday ready by planning what decorations you’d like to put out and how you’ll fit everyone. Try different configurations for your tables so that every guest is seated comfortably that day.
TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE HOLIDAY
- Plan out your table setting and guest seating. Gather dishes, silverware, linens and serving dishes. Make (or buy) guest place cards and fill them out. If possible, set up your table now so it’s one less thing to take care of Thanksgiving week.
- Begin your grocery shopping early. Purchase non-perishable items such as chicken stock, Gravy Master, soda, wine, beer, canned vegetables, flour and other baking essentials, etc now so that you have less to shop for later.
- Start making room in your pantry, fridge and freezer. Use up the food you have, organize to make room for more.
- Plan out your cooking schedule. Make yourself a list outlining what you need to cook, when you need to cook it and for how long. Having a cooking plan in place ensures that your meal comes together perfectly and at the same time on the big day!
- Cook ahead! Start prepping what you can now to make your cooking flow more easily later. Good ideas to make and freeze are pie crusts, cookie dough, rolls, cranberry sauce, gravy stock, etc.
- Get your house holiday ready! Start cleaning, especially in areas of the house you aren’t in often such as the formal living and dining room. Put our your Thanksgiving decorations and create a warm, festive place for your guests.
- Start thinking about serving dishes. Plan out which platters and bowls you will use for each dish. Use sticky notes to label each one so that on Thanksgiving you won’t need to scramble for the right serving vessel, everything will be ready and marked.
- Plan about your drink menu. Wine, soda and beer are all essential drinks to have on hand but think about adding a specialty cocktail that you can easily make for your guests or even a nice autumn inspired sangria. Hot mulled cider is also another cozy, festive beverage to serve on Thanksgiving.
- Breathe and take some time for yourself to decompress.
ONE WEEK BEFORE THE HOLIDAY
- If using a frozen turkey, begin to plan your thawing schedule.
In the Refrigerator (40°F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds
4 to 12 pounds 1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds 5 to 6 days
In Cold Water
Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound
4 to 12 pounds 2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds 10 to 12 hours
- Finish your food shopping however, buy fruit and vegetables as close to the holiday as possible so they are at peak freshness.
- Chill beverages ahead of time and if possible, have a cooler set out on the big day to keep everything cold without sacrificing fridge space.
- Confirm your guest list.
- Finish cleaning your house. Also, if you have not done so already, clean our your refrigerator and make room for all of the ingredients and prepared dishes.
- Set your table with the linens, dishes and silverware. Put out your labeled serving pieces so they are accessible as you need them.
- They day or two before Thanksgiving, chop up all of your vegetables so that you can easily grab what you need when cooking.
- Prepare all of the cold dishes in advance, about a day or two before Thanksgiving. This includes any relishes, dips, cranberry sauce, or cold salads. Also, prep your cold hors d’oeuvres such as cheese platters and crudités.
- Prep your stuffing the day before so it is ready to be baked the day of Thanksgiving.
- Assemble nut platters and candy dishes ahead of time so that all you need to do on the big day is place them on the tables.
- Go over your schedule for cooking times. Make sure you have every dish accounted for and planned out ahead of time.
- The day before Thanksgiving, prep your bird so that all you have to do in the morning is put it in the oven. Place the turkey on a roasting rack, season, add your aromatics and cover with tin foil.
- Take a breath! You’re in the home stretch now.
THE DAY OF THANKSGIVING