Hosting Thanksgiving our Thanksgiving meal is something I look forward to each year. I love cooking and entertaining so it’s easily one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. Pulling off a big meal with lots of dishes can be totally overwhelming, but I have a few tips that I use to keep make sure the day goes off without a hitch and all the guests leave happy and full!
Planning for turkey day needs to start a few weeks in advance. I know this sounds crazy but just a few hours here and there in the weeks leading up to the day will make things so much less stressful. I love making from scratch home cooked food, but it is still very important to me to enjoy the day with my loved ones, so planning and prepping is the only way I can make it happen.
Here’s what you need to know to pull off an awesome Thanksgiving feast:
3+ weeks before:
- Create a guest list & invite guests. It’s a good idea to get a head count early on.
- Ensure you have seating, tableware and linens ware for everyone who is attending. Now’s the time to purchase anything you’re missing.
- Plan and purchase any table décor – and probably fall down the rabbit hole of gorgeous Pinterest table settings…
- Start planning your menu. This is when I pull out my stash of cookbooks and mark any I think I might want to use (You might remember my slight addiction from this post). I also browse Pinterest for some inspiration and new ideas.
- Order your turkey if you plan to get a fresh one.
2 weeks before:
- Finalize your menu. Write it down (paper or electronic) and make sure all your recipes are easy to access – I like to print out any I find online and either photocopy or type up the ones from cookbooks. Make notes on the menu of things that other people are bringing (if any).
- Create a master grocery list. To do this I go through each recipe and write down the ingredients needed as a big running list. If it’s things like butter or onion that are used in multiple recipes I tally the amounts needed. When I’m done I also like to go through and organize it by category (produce, meats, etc.) so its quicker to shop when I am at the store.
- Clean out your fridge/freezer/pantry to make room for groceries and any food prepped in advance. You’ll thank me later for this!
- Make a list of things you can do or make in advance. I make basically everything from scratch on my menu, so I like to spread out the work the best I can. I also like to make a timeline/schedule working backwards from the time I want to eat so I know what time I need to get things in the oven or on the stove – and to avoid needing the oven for two things at once.
- Buy any non-perishables on your grocery list.
- Make any items that can be frozen in advance – for me that’s things like pie dough and turkey stock for gravy.
The week of Thanksgiving:
- Clean your home – or as much as the kids will allow. If you get this done early in the week you can just touch up a few things the night before.
- Pull out all your serving dishes, make sure they are clean and dust-free. Grab a pad of sticky notes and label what item will go in each dish.
- Put out any décor.
Tuesday before Thanksgiving:
- Start prepping any food items that can be made in advance – cranberry sauce, chopping veggies, shred cheese, etc.
- Shop for remaining ingredients.
The day before:
- More food prep – brine turkey, assemble pies, make stuffing and/or vegetable side dishes.
- Set the table.
- Do a quick touch-up clean of the house.
- Cook the Turkey and the remaining dishes, plus reheat ones prepped ahead. Make sure to start with the appetizers so they can be out for guests to enjoy when they arrive.
- Enjoy the day with family and friends!
There you have it! That is how I stay organized and plan my Thanksgiving. Do you have any tips that help make your holiday meal prep easier? We’d love to hear them!