A Host’s Schedule for a Happy Thanksgiving

Welcome to November! In just three weeks, we’ll be surrounded by friends and family to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. If you’re hosting, a little planning will go a long way to having a stress-free holiday!

  • If you haven’t finalized your guest list, ordered your turkey, and decided the menu yet, put that on your “must do” list for this weekend! Knowing what you plan to make will allow you to grocery shop ahead of time, and the number of guests will influence the amount you buy.
  • Your guests will want to bring something to share. Keep a short list of the things that they can bring, and be as specific or general as you wish – it’s okay to ask the person who likes to cook to whip up an appetizer, and the person who lives on takeout to bring a cheese platter from the grocery store! Your guests want to contribute to Thanksgiving, and will be glad to know what you’d like them to bring. If you think you’ll have leftovers, ask them to bring their own containers to bring some home!
  • Lists! About two weeks before, get your recipes in front of you and go through your cupboards to make sure you have all of the equipment you need. This way, you can plan to borrow or buy anything missing. Once you have your inventory, make your grocery list.
  • Consider what beverages you will be offering. If you’re serving alcohol, stock up now to avoid the “Thanksgiving Eve” rush. It’s also good to stock up on waters, soft drinks, and coffee and tea ahead of time, if for no other reason than to not deal with last-minute crowds!
  • Two weeks prior to the holiday, there are a couple of tasks that you’ll be glad you did ahead:
    • Clean out the freezer so you have enough room for pie crusts, cookie dough, and leftovers.
    • Prepare and freeze your pie dough if you’re making it from scratch. You can also bake your rolls ahead of time and freeze them until Turkey Day.
    • Choose your decor! Whether you use just a few accent pieces, or go all out with an autumn theme, decide what you want to use now and put it aside so you can start decorating the night before and get to bed at a decent hour (gotta get that turkey in the oven early, after all!).
  • During the week before, shop for your perishables. Also, finalize your seating plan if you need one, and sketch out your cooking schedule so you know exactly when to start cooking your dishes so they’ll be done right around the same time.
  • Two-three days ahead of Thanksgiving, start thawing the turkey, and make your cranberry sauce and pies. If you are working on the day before Thanksgiving, you can also start preparing your easily-reheated side dishes. If you’re off on Wednesday, you can prepare them then.
  • T-minus one day! This is the day that you can get to your cleaning while your side dishes cook.
  • Thanksgiving Day: stick to your plan, ask for help if you need it, and enjoy the company of some of your favorite people!