Thanksgiving is officially one week away! Now’s the time you’re probably expecting your family and guests to give you a call, asking things like “I’m going to the store this weekend, what should I buy?” or “What was that ham recipe we had last year?”
Needless to say, this weekend is primetime for Thanksgiving preparation, and it helps to have a few things squared away. This month, we’ve mapped out a game plan to make hosting the ultimate Thanksgiving feast so much easier, and this weekend is no different. Here are the final steps to complete in the next few days to ensure Thursday is a breeze and you can spend your holiday relaxing with loved ones.
The Weekend Before Thanksgiving
Shopping trip #1: Make a detailed shopping list but don’t expect to get all your shopping done in one trip. Divide your list into two parts: items you’ll need in advance and items you’ll need a day or two before the meal. Now’s the time to stock up on essentials like spices, napkins, extra plates or silverware, and of course, drink essentials.
Clean out the fridge/freezer/pantry: Doing a clean out of the fridge, freezer, and pantry will make space for all your Thanksgiving groceries and show you if any important ingredients are missing or have expired.
Purchase the turkey: You’ll want to purchase your turkey ahead of time before the store runs out and give your turkey enough to thaw. Buy around 1 pound of turkey per person, or more if you want leftovers.
Note when to start thawing the turkey: Allow at least 24 hours of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey. Make a note in your planner of which day you need to put the turkey in your refrigerator so that you don’t forget.
Arrange furniture for guests: If you need to move furniture to accommodate your guests, do it over the weekend before your thorough cleaning. Move couches for better flow of traffic, or to make room for extra tables and chairs.
Deep clean the house: Last-minute tidying up will still need to be done later, but most of the cleaning can be done in advance. This can include cleaning windows, dusting and polishing off furniture, cleaning appliances, and tidying up the front porch.
Monday or Tuesday of Thanksgiving Week
Shopping trip #2: Do the final grocery shopping and grab everything you’ll need for the big day. Be sure to make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need for your dishes to refrain from leaving anything out. Grocery stores are also super busy! Go early in the morning or late at night to avoid the biggest crowds.
Thaw the turkey: Thawing your turkey can depend on the size you’ve bought; however, most people typically decide to start defrosting it in the fridge a few days before cooking.
Put baking dishes, recipes, and non-perishables on the counter: Take each Thanksgiving recipe and place it on the counter with the accompanying baking dish/pot/pan/crockpot, along with the non-perishable ingredients needed to make it, so you’ll be organized and ready to start your Thanksgiving meal prep.
The Day Before Thanksgiving
Clean and trim your vegetables: Wash salad greens, cut the green beans, and generally take care of as much vegetable prep as you can. Chop up the onions and celery, wash the herbs, and pat dry all your vegetables, cover, and refrigerate.
Start rolling your dough: Start your doughs now and stash in the fridge to proof. Consider making your pie crusts now and preparing the desserts as much as you can – then bake or refrigerate.
Other things to consider making ahead: If you have time, make your stuffing, casseroles, and other side dishes that you can quickly warm up the day of.
Set the table: Wednesday evening is the perfect time to set your table. Have fun, be creative, and take your time. An elegant table will be sure to impress your guests and improve the overall look of any holiday photos.
Late in the evening, do a final cleanup of the house: As you’ve already done the deep cleaning, this will include wiping down surfaces, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and putting away any toys, shoes, and clothes.
Call guests: If you’ve forgotten something important, the last thing you’ll want to do is make a run to the store on the big day. Instead, call a trusted guest and ask if he or she can pick something up for you.
Roast Turkey: It will take about 3 hours to roast a 15-pound turkey; still prepare it about 4 hours before Thanksgiving dinner, and keep in mind that turkey can rest and stay warm for quite a long time, and a warm bird is easier to carve than a hot one.
Cook the sides: Now’s the time to assemble any last-minute dishes and rewarm the ones you made the day before, from potatoes to stuffing to macaroni and cheese—all can be made now while the turkey is roasting.
Plate everything up: Once everything has finished cooking, get some help transferring everything into their designated serving platters and place them on the dining table. And finally, it’s time to eat!
With so much to prepare for, there’s bound to be some sort of minor complications on Thanksgiving, but don’t stress about what worked and what didn’t—practice makes perfect! There’s always next year. For now, simply pat yourself on the back for a job well done and note improvements for next year to ensure a holiday routine that works best for your friends and family.