Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks and celebration. Having a delicious meal is just part of that celebration. If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, wouldn’t you like to enjoy the celebration too?
Whether you are having a large or small gathering, the idea of hosting Thanksgiving may seem daunting. There seems to be a lot to do and there never seems to be enough time to do it in. Let’s face it, as moms we have a million things going on. A little planning can go a long way to creating a memorable meal, put you at ease, and save your sanity all at the same time. This planner will help you get organized so you can enjoy your Thanksgiving and not feel confined in the kitchen.
The key to any party is planning. Thanksgiving is no exception. The key to this Thanksgiving planner is prepping and cooking as much as you can ahead of time. This will free you up on Thanksgiving to enjoy your friends and family.
2 Weeks until Thanksgiving
Create your guest list
Who’s coming to dinner? Invitations do not have to be formal. They can be a simple phone call or email. Be sure to take note of any food allergies your guests may have.
Create your menu
Will you go with a traditional Thanksgiving meal or will you jazz things up a little? Not everyone likes something new for Thanksgiving. If you want to be different, try one new recipe or dish. If you have guests with special preferences or requests, ask them to bring the dish. Asking for help takes some work off your shoulders and ensures everyone has their favorite dishes for Thanksgiving.
Order your turkey
If you are going with a specialty turkey, you’ll want to order it as soon as possible. Arrange to pick it up on Wednesday. If you are buying a frozen turkey, you could wait and pick one up the weekend before Thanksgiving. However, it’s best to be prepared and just order one now. When deciding what size of turkey you’ll need, calculate 2 pounds per adult and 1 pound per child. This may seem like a lot of turkey, but you’ll want to have enough for leftovers.
Create a list of the serving pieces, linens, and utensils needed
This includes platters, serving bowls, meat thermometer, table cloths, napkins, flatware, etc. Make sure that every recipe has a serving bowl or platter and utensils to serve it with. Take an inventory of what items you have and what items you will need to be borrow or purchase.
1 Week until Thanksgiving
Create your grocery list.
Divide your shopping list into perishables and nonperishables. You can pick up those nonperishable items like paper goods, décor, baking ingredients, spices, wine, alcohol, etc. this week. If you’ll be making and freezing any dishes this week, you’ll want to pick up those ingredients too.
Clean out refrigerator and freezer.
You’ll be needing this space very soon.
Decide on the holiday décor you’d like to have for the party. Will you have a table centerpiece? If it’s not perishable, you can create that this week.
Make pie crusts
Pie crusts can be made this week and placed in the freezer. Simply wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. Making these ahead of time will actually result in a best crust for your pies.
Week of Thanksgiving:
Defrost your turkey
If you are getting a frozen turkey, pick it up and start to thaw it. Place it in the coldest part of your refrigerator and allow it to thaw slowly for a few days.
Grocery shopping for perishables
Grocery stores won’t be as crazy today as they will be later in the week. Head to the grocery store for any perishables. Pick up all the items on your grocery list that you created last week.
Create a cooking timeline
On Thursday, you want things to run smoothly. You’ll start cooking tomorrow to help minimize stress and oven overload. Take your menu and create a cooking schedule. When will you cook what dish? Note the temperatures at which they are to be cooked and how long they will be in the oven.
Brine your turkey
Brining is a way to ensure that your turkey is moist and delicious. This is completely optional, but it makes a big difference.
Make your cranberry sauce and salad dressings today. The acidity in these items will ensure that they will hold well past Thursday. If you are making everything from scratch, bake your bread or cornbread for the stuffing and homemade stock for gravy.
If you ordered a specialty turkey, pick it up today.
Set the table
Set out the place settings on the table or set up your buffet line. Wash the stemware.
Chop your vegetables and other ingredients. Place in covered bowls or plastic storage bags. Rinse salad greens, pat dry, and store in a container in the fridge. Peel potatoes and store in a bowl of water in the fridge.
Make ahead side dishes and appetizers
Prepare any side dishes (casseroles, soups, salads, etc.) that can be easily reheated or are served cold.
Remove pie crusts from the freezer today. Finish up your pies and other desserts.
Cook the turkey
Remove the turkey from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Time it so that it is finished about 1 hour prior to meal time.
Chill the wine and other beverages
Make any remaining side dishes or appetizers and reheat anything that needs it. Follow the cooking timeline you created on Monday to help things run smoothly.
This is a holiday celebration after all. Sit back and enjoy your friends and family. If dinner isn’t perfect, no one will know. Just remember that this is about giving thanks.
Remember you are not at this party alone and you can ask guests for assistance. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Guests can help by bringing a dish for the meal, helping you cook in the kitchen, bringing needed serving pieces and utensils, or helping set up. Just let them know what they can do to help.
Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. With this planner, you’ll be ready when your guests arrive to celebrate and enjoy the holiday.
What other tips would you recommend for anyone hosting Thanksgiving this year?
Nicky Omohundro was born in Southern California and arrived to Oklahoma when the military stationed her husband here in 2000. He has since retired and they returned to OKC with their 3 children; ages 12, 9, and 7. When she’s not busy homeschooling and getting kids to and from their activities, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and getting outdoors with her kids. She shares her recipes, menu ideas, and travel tips on her blog www.littlefamilyadventure.com.