Host Thanksgiving Dinner without the stress thanks to this detailed Thanksgiving Planner filled with tips, tricks, and a detailed plan. Includes a Free Downloadable Planner with everything you will need to host a beautiful Thanksgiving Dinner with ease!
Since getting married nearly 20 years ago, I have hosted Thanksgiving.
I have hosted Thanksgiving Dinners for an intimate crowd of 8 guests to Thanksgiving Feasts for over 30 people. And many times, I host not only Thanksgiving Dinner, but out-of-town guests for several days.
So I know a thing or two about how to host Thanksgiving Dinner!
And I want to share those tips with you so that YOU too, can have an effortless, yet beautiful and delicious holiday feast.
My first tip to a stress-free Thanksgiving is to plan!
I suggest finalizing the guest list and menu as far in advance as possible-I personally suggest 3 weeks.
This gives you the time to prep your house and your food in small increments, making the process of hosting Thanksgiving Dinner less overwhelming!
With these step-by-step tips on how to prep for Thanksgiving, you will be able to pull off an impressive Thanksgiving Meal--even if you have little time to work with!
Grab the Thanksgiving Planner and pick your menu and you are well on your way to an easy, impressive Thanksgiving dinner.
What to do 3 Weeks Before Thanksgiving
- Finalize your guest list. This may sound obvious, but it is really important to know how many people you are hosting and if they will be staying with you through the holiday weekend. If you have not invited your friends or family yet, STOP want you are doing, and do it NOW!
- Plan your menu. Gather your family's favorite must-have recipes, or use my collection of Thanksgiving Recipes to pick what you want to include on your menu. Remember, you do not have to have EVERYTHING and you can ask your guests to contribute something if you feel comfortable in doing so.
- Make a Grocery List. Use your menu to make a detailed grocery list. First go shopping in your pantry and be sure you have the staples, such as flour, olive oil, chicken stock, brown sugar, etc, etc. If not add those to your list as well.
- Order the turkey. If you special order your turkey, do that now. You can also purchase a frozen turkey now, as they can become harder to finder closer to Thanksgiving.
- Check Supplies: Be sure you have enough flatware, glasses, and plates to accomodate your guests. You also want to check to be sure you have sufficient serving dishes and the cooking tools you will need for your holiday. Whatever you need, order or shop for now.
- Freeze: Start freezing scraps of fruits and vegetables, like carrot peels, apple peels, and onions in a freezer-safe bag to use to make the brine for the turkey. And trust me, a brined turkey is the best turkey!
What to do 2 Weeks Before Thanksgiving
- Clean out the freezer. Take inventory of what you have stashed in your freezer and toss things past their prime. Utilize what you have left to make a few meals this week so that you can make room for any pre-prepped Thanksgiving dishes.
- Shop sales. Look at your local grocery ads for sales this week. It is a great time to purchase fresh cranberries, apples, frozen turkey, sweet potatoes, frozen vegetables, and baking essentials like sugar and flour.
- Purchase beverages. Purchase wine, liquor, sparkling cider, etc.
- Prepare and freeze desserts. Whether you plan to make pumpkin pie, apple pie, pumpkin cheesecake, and/or pumpkin roll, they all freeze really well. I highly suggest if you have the time make your dessert(s) of choice this week and freeze to pull out the night before Thanksgiving.
- Get a jump start on side dishes. Many side dishes also freeze well, so if you have the time now, invest in making things like Homemade Applesauce and Homemade Cranberry Sauce and once cooled, freeze for Thanksgiving. You can get a jump start on Sweet Potato Casserole by preparing the filling and topping and then freeze them in separate freezer-safe bags. Then it as easy as thawing and assembling the casserole for baking.
- Prepare breakfast casseroles. If you are having guests stay overnight with you make Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole and/or French Toast Casserole and freeze. I walk you through steps to freeze ahead of time and to make gluten-free or dairy-free if needed. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is have to make breakfast the day after Thanksgiving!
What to do 1 Week Before Thanksgiving
- Finalize menu. Your dishes should be planned by now, but it is time to be sure you finalize your menu and make any modifications needed.
- Create a timeline. This may sound like an unnecessary step, but it will really help alleviate stress and make sure that your dishes are ready at the same time. There is nothing worse than having everything done and getting cold while you wait for the Turkey to finish cooking.
- Grocery shop. This is the week to be sure you have all the the non-perishable goods you need stocked in your pantry.
- Prepare the potatoes. If you are planning to have mashed potatoes, make and freeze them now--trust me, this is one of the biggest time savers!!
- Clean. Deep clean the areas in your house guests will see, paying special attention to bathrooms.
- Order flowers. If you are using fresh flowers for a centerpiece, now is the time to place that order.
What to do 3-4 Days Before Thanksgiving
- Defrost the turkey. If your turkey is frozen, it is CRUCIAL you remove it from the freezer and place it into the refrigerator to fully defrost.
- Grocery shop AGAIN! This is the time to purchase all your perishable items, such as leafy greens, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, etc.
- Prep produce. Wash and dry vegetables, fruits, and herbs. You can also take this time to peel carrots, chop celery, etc.
- Set the table. If not using your dining room table, it is really helpful to set as much of the tables as possible now. I even place out serving dishes to make sure I have everything I need ready to go.
What to do the Day Before Thanksgiving
- Prepare the turkey brine. A turkey brine makes a WORLD of difference in the quality of taste of a turkey. Prepare your Turkey Brine in the morning and let it cool and then refrigerate until ready to use.
- Spot clean. No need to deep clean, you just want to give a quick surface clean to any visible area to your guests. Freshen up the bathrooms, vacuum the house, sweep the kitchen, etc.
- Prepare desserts. If you did not have the time to pre-bake your pies or cakes, prepare them today.
- Dry bread. Cube up bread for stuffing and lay it out on a sheet pan. Cover it with a clean kitchen towel and place it in an area that is safe from pets and let the bread dry out.
- Prepare sides. I suggest preparing any side dishes that reheat well or ones that you haven't, like cornbread casserole, green bean casserole, or mashed potato casserole today.
- Defrost. Remove any dishes you made and froze in advance (applesauce, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, pies, etc.)
- Prepare rolls. Prepare homemade rolls so that you just have to warm them up on Thanksgiving. Alternatively, defrost frozen rolls.
What to do the Night Before Thanksgiving
- Brine turkey. Place your turkey in the Turkey Brine.
- Prepare breakfast. Make Overnight Oatmeal or Overnight French Toast Casserole, so you don't have to think about breakfast.
- Relax. If that means ordering a pizza and putting your feet up with a glass of wine--go for it!
What to do Thanksgiving Day
- Roast the turkey. Remove the turkey out of brine and roast, being sure to plan for 15 minutes of baking time per pound and for your turkey to be finished roasting up to 1 hour prior to sitting down to eat.
- Heat beverages. If preparing mulled wine or mulled cider, place them in a slow cooker and let heat for your guests.
- Prepare stuffing. Using the dried out bread, prepare and bake the stuffing.
- Rest the turkey. Remove the roasted turkey from oven and tent with foil. Let rest for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour while you make the gravy and finish cooking the side dishes so that everything comes together seamlessly.
- Bake rolls and casseroles. With the turkey out of the oven, use that space to bake the rolls if needed, and warm up any side dishes that you prepared in advance.
- Make the gravy. The final thing you want to do before sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner is to make the gravy. You can opt to make with or without the drippings.
- Carve the turkey and eat! Enjoy your meal while you count your blessings.
Follow this stress-free plan for hosting your holiday dinner and then plan your menu using my favorite Thanksgiving Recipes for the Ultimate Thanksgiving Holiday.
Grab my EASY tips for setting the table and easy recipes for appetizers over on YouTube.