Thanksgiving Timeline Tips for an Organized Holiday
A complete step-by-step 30-day guide to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. This Thanksgiving Timeline Tips for an Organized Holiday includes everything you need to know ahead of time, and when to start preparing the Thanksgiving meal.
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Place this Baking Plan on your refrigerator to remind you how to plan ahead.
Here are a few tips to begin thinking about and doing now.
- Make a list of everyone that will be attending and send out your invitations now.
- Determine if there will be any special food needs.
- Begin a list of things you are going to need to buy.
- If you will be ordering anything for your event, do it now.
- Make a Thanksgiving to-do list. List everything that needs to be done before Thanksgiving.
- Decide and/or purchase any china, glassware, and table linens you’re going to use.
- Prepare them now if they need washing and ironing.
- Decide on your Thanksgiving decorations and tablesettings and start making them now. Make any purchase you are going to need for them now. Place settings, decorations, table centerpiece,
- If you are having anything catered or ordered in, schedule it now.
- Do you need to have your home cleaned by a professional cleaning service? If so, schedule it now. They tend to fill up quickly closer to the holidays.
- Prepare your camera and/or video camera making sure it’s in working condition and you have plenty of batteries/film, etc.
- Are you ordering fresh flowers? Go ahead and place your order now to be delivered one to two days before the dinner.
Two Weeks Before Thanksgiving
- Do you have enough chairs and places for everyone to sit. If not, make those necessary arrangements now.
- Polish your silver.
- Make sure you have enough serving utensils for dishes the guest are bringing.
- Shop for any paper goods you need for the event.
- Go ahead and go through your refrigerator now and toss out anything that is not needed. You’re going to need the room for leftovers!
- Go ahead and start shopping from your list and start purchasing nonperishable groceries.
- Do you have enough serving bowls, platters, and silverware? Set them out and place cards next to them of what dish you are going to serve in them.
One Week Before Thanksgiving
- Plan seating arrangements and make sure you have name tags for everyone.
- Review your recipes and prepare a cooking schedule by day for the days ahead, and by the hour for Thanksgiving Day.
- Check to see how long you are going to need to thaw your frozen turkey.
- Are you having any quest sleep over? Prepare their room with fresh linens and other amenities.
- Plan a family yard day. Have everyone clean, rake leaves, mow, plant flowers, clean glass door, etc.
- Plan if any babies will be at your feast. Are you going to need a high chair, crib, or booster seat? Bring them out and clean them, or arrange to borrow these items from a friend or the parent.
- If children will be attending, get out games or movies for them. Or ask parents to bring things for the kids to do.
Four Days Before Thanksgiving
- Begin defrosting the frozen turkey.
- Save money on ice — start making your own ice cubes now. When they’re frozen, dump them in a freezer bag.
- Now is the time to have your home cleaned and get any organizing done.
- Start putting out your decorations.
- Plan ahead for leftovers. Organize containers and baggies so guests can take home leftovers.
Two Days Before Thanksgiving
- Check your turkey for cook time and prepare for the appropriate time.
- Add stuffing to the bird when you are ready to cook it.
- Chill your beverages that need to be served cold.
- Have centerpiece delivered or buy flowers for the table.
- Shop for perishable items.
- Clean vegetables and refrigerate.
- Set out bread for homemade stuffing.
- Make cranberry sauce.
- Fill salt and pepper shakers and butter dishes.
- Complete light housecleaning.
- Lay a fire in the fireplace, ready to light later.
- Put up decorations.
One Day Before Thanksgiving
- Preheat oven for the turkey.
- Put turkey in oven and baste every half hour or according to your recipe.
- Peel potatoes and place in a pot of cold water. Keep in refrigerator until you are ready to cook them.
- Prepare the vegetables. Store them in airtight baggies and refrigerate.
- Prepare all the dishes that can be prepared ahead of time.
- Check your bathrooms. Be sure to have extra paper goods and hand towels and soap available.
- Prepare the stuffing.
- Plan a family event and have everyone in the family set the table that evening.
- Make a station area for serving coffee, desserts, and drinks. Stock with flatware, sugar and creamer, cups and saucers, etc.
- Get out all serving pieces. Set out in order on a counter or buffet table.
- Fill condiment dishes with your choice of pickles, olives, cranberry sauce, etc. Cover each dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Place their serving spoon on top.
- Designate a person who can be in charge of pouring drinks, filling glasses with ice, answering the door, hanging up coats, and watching the children.
- Prepare tea and coffee and brew 20 minutes before serving.
- Remove stuffing from turkey and let it rest, covered, for about 20 minutes before slicing.
- Microwave any foods that need to be warmed up if needed.
- Make the gravy.
- Set out refrigerated dishes including condiments, cranberries, and salads.
- Heat bread or rolls as needed.
- Pour drinks.
- Carve turkey.
- Keep the oven on the lowest setting to keep foods warm until the meal is over.
- Enjoy the dinner! Clear the table and serve dessert!
- Before leaving the table, blow out any candles and collect cloth napkins and place them in the laundry.
- Fill the dishwasher with one load of dinner dishes and glassware.
- Fill the sink with hot soapy water and drop in silverware and any items to be hand-washed.
- Put away leftover food in containers, foil packs, or plastic bags. Distribute into labeled bags for guests to take home. Refrigerate everything.
- Soak any pots and pans that need to be soaked.
- Clean off kitchen counters.
- Wash serving pieces that your guests brought.
- Organize games or other entertainment.
- Finish dishes as time allows, or after guests depart.
- Put away dishes, serving pieces, and glassware.
- Return any borrowed tables, chairs, games, etc.
- Make notes on what worked — and what didn’t — and keep in your recipe box by the “Thanksgiving” tab.
- Write and mail thank-you notes.
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