Thanksgiving is the biggest feast of the year. There’s so much to think about and plan for, you’re going to want a guide going in so you don’t forget anything.
What to do right now
The guest list. It’s likely to change, but getting an idea of how many people are going to come can help you start to estimate what and how much you’ll need.
Order a turkey. Don’t leave this one up to chance at the grocery store. If you wait too long to pick up a bird, you might be scrambling. Plus, ordering ahead gives you a chance to order the right size and type of turkey you want. And you know it will be fresh.
Check your housewares. Go through your linens and dishes and make sure you have everything you need, from baking dishes to napkins, salads bowls, silverware, and even towels, sheets and toiletries if you have guests spending the night. If you take Thanksgiving super seriously, you may even want to start ironing some of your linens now.
All about those pies. Homemade pie crust vs. store bought isn’t even fair! The homemade stuff is so much better, it puts all others to shame. If you’re up to the challenge, start making your pie crust now. It freeze well, so all you’ll have to do is thaw it and roll it out the night before Thanksgiving. If you simply won’t have time or the patience for pies, place your orders at your favorite bakery now.
Make sure knives are sharp. Sure, you can do this at any point in the year. But the holidays, and a big feast, serve as a great yearly reminder. Get them sharpened, so all of that cutting and chopping goes by in a breeze. Plus, you don’t want to hang a guest a dull knife.
2 to 3 weeks before Thanksgiving
Buy nonperishables. Don’t wait until the last minute or you might find all the pumpkin has been scooped up.
Buy extras. If you found you need extra platters, serving pieces, candle holders or what-have-you, now is the time to get those items. You don’t want to worry about these things when you have food to fix in the days leading up to the holiday. This also includes place setting decorations and centerpieces.
Make and freeze extra gravy. If you’re planning on making gravy from scratch on Thanksgiving Day, that’s great. But consider making some ahead of time, too. Get some turkey from the butcher, roast, then deglaze. You can never have too much gravy! Plus, the pressure of a houseful of guests and finished food waiting as you wrap up making the gravy, is sometimes too much. Pre-made gravy means everyone gets to dive in sooner.
The week of Thanksgiving
Write down your menu. It might be old school, but you’ll love having a copy of everything you need in your hand, at a glance. Note if a guest is bringing something, so you don’t forget and double up.
Make a grocery list. Make a grocery list of everything you still need. Divide items into sections like dairy, produce, meats, and bakery. That way, you’re in and out of the holiday madness at the supermarket in no time.
Set a game plan. Visualize what dishes will need to be prepared and cooked when. Timing is everything.
Take out your dishes. Chances are, you’ll using lots of dishes that rarely get used. It’s good practice to run everything through the dishwasher to get it clean and sparkly. Dry on towels that won’t leave lint.
Pick up the booze. If your feast bleeds over to the bar, stock up now. Consider who you have coming and what they usually enjoy.
Chill your alcohol. If you’re serving wine, beer or other alcohol that needs a good chill, get it in the fridge or freezer now. If temperature allows, and you’re out of space, even the garage or back deck will do.
Thaw items. If you’ve premade some items like gravy, pie crust, casseroles or whatever else, you should typically take them out and thaw them in the refrigerator now.
The day before
Prep. Chop and dice everything you possibly can ahead of tomorrow. Stock up on lots of zip top bags for holding everything.
Pies. Pies are a great candidate for wrapping up the day before. Bake them and set them aside. One dish done!
Set up the server. Place everything you’ll need on the server or buffet table.
Set the table. Set the table exactly as you envisioned for tomorrow. Don’t forget any extra centerpieces, candles, or decor you bought that you wanted to display.
Sleep! You’re going to have a long day and night ahead of you tomorrow. Lots of cooking, baking, entertaining, and then cleaning. Don’t underestimate how much good eight hours of shut eye can do.
Carry out your plan. You have everything you need. Just execute dishes and bake them according to your plan.
Ask for help. Don’t feel bad about asking a guest to stir the gravy or restock the refrigerator with beer. After all, Thanksgiving feast is a family affair, and if you’re dining together today, you’re family!
Enjoy! You put in all of that effort. Don’t forget to fix yourself a delicious plate and relax with your guests. Above anyone else there, you’ve earned it!
Be Thankful. Be thankful for all you have, and also, maybe, that Thanksgiving comes just once a year.