1 -2 Weeks before Thanksgiving (or earlier if you’re very organized!):
- Plan your guest list and confirm. This can, of course, be done much earlier and makes life a little easier!
- Invite someone that doesn’t have a family to share Thanksgiving with. There is always room for one more.
- Plan your menu and all of the trimmings!
- Ask each guest to bring a side + the recipe. (this IS Thanksgiving!) Confirm.
- Order your turkey (fresh is best, and order sooner rather than later). Approximately 1 pound per person. If you want leftovers, order extra.
- Read through all of your recipes and create your shopping list.
- As you read through your recipes, remember to consider your guests and those with any food allergies and vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free family members and friends.
- Take inventory. Buy any cooking tools, linens, or tableware that you may need. If you need to rent chairs or additional tables, do so.
- If linens need to be pressed, send out to the dry cleaner, or press them yourself. (Roll them to prevent creases).
- Order the centerpieces for the table, or prepare your own. Purchase candles. Make place cards.
- Take advantage of apple picking season. If you’re making fresh apple pies, they can be made ahead (unbaked) and frozen. Wrap them up well with foil before freezing.
- Note: Prepare a folder for shared recipes. Make copies after Thanksgiving and give each guest a copy of the recipe book and date / year. Makes a great gift for the holiday season! Add a group photo, too.
A Few Days Before Thanksgiving:
- Clean out the refrigerator to make room for what’s coming!
- Shopping! Shop for fresh foods, produce, staples and wines.
- Prepare any foods that can be prepared in advanced: Pie crusts can be prepared and frozen in discs. (thaw when you’re ready to roll). Cranberry sauces can also be prepared and refrigerated a few days in advance.
- Begin to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator, if a frozen turkey was purchased (place layers of paper towels under the turkey to absorb the moisture).
- Prepare planning a brine if you’re brining the day before Thanksgiving. The brine can be made and refrigerated.
- Cube bread and leave it out to dry in preparation for the stuffing.
The Day Before Thanksgiving:
- Pick up the fresh turkey and complete any shopping.
- Create your kitchen space. Grab your recipes, an apron, knife, chopping board and get to it! Mise en place (everything in its place) for each recipe works well, as it creates organization. Start Chopping. Chop all of the vegetables for the stuffing and place each ingredient in a bowl or zipper bag, depending if you are going to cook it now or later. Stuffing can be prepared a day in advance.
- Make and bake pies and desserts.
- Chill the wines.
The Night Before Thanksgiving:
- Set up the tables, beautifully.
- Organize the bar and coffee/tea areas with glassware, mugs and teacups, included.
- Organize before-dinner drinks, wine & appetizer area with napkins and small plates.
- Organize serving dishes and serving spoons and forks, carving board, carving knife & fork.
- Determine what time dinner will be served and work backwards to determine what time the turkey will go into the oven.
- Tidy the house before going to bed & sleep peacefully!
- Enjoy Breakfast and a Cuppa Joe. Organize the day.
- Preheat oven.
- Remove the prepared stuffing/dressing from the refrigerator and prepare the turkey for the oven. Stuff and bake.
- Peel potatoes, cube and place in a pot of cold water and cover.
- Check on tables, side dishes, serving pieces, drinks, chill water.
1 – 2 hours before dinner:
- Cook the potatoes and then drain them after they are fork-tender.
- Serve up the cranberry sauce on the table. Do you have a favorite heirloom serving dish?
- Serve drinks and hors d’ oeuvres.
1 hour before dinner:
- While guest enjoy hors d’ oeuvres, when turkey is done, transfer to a platter and cover with foil and let it cool down.
- Reheat or bake side dishes.
- Make gravy.
- Mash potatoes.
- Carve the turkey, seat your guests, and dinner is served!