If you haven't started planning your Thanksgiving dinner, don't panic. It's not too late to put together the ultimate feast that amazes your guests.
I've come up with a two week plan that will help you get things ready without the stress. With just a little planning, your Thanksgiving table will be something to remember, and you'll be able to enjoy it too!
Two Weeks Before Thanksgiving
Gather Your Ingredients
Making tasty dishes to compliment the star of your table takes a bit of planning ahead, especially with some of the shortages we've all been hearing about.
The first thing you want to do is order your turkey if you haven't. Many places are experiencing turkey shortage this year, so you want to make sure you can have one on your table, especially if you purchase from local markets.
Next, gather your shelf stable and frozen ingredients. Things like bread crumbs for stuffing, any dried herbs and spices, frozen veggies (if you use them) and your baking supplies. Eggs can last in the fridge for a few weeks, so you can even grab those!
Prep Your Decorations
If you haven't yet placed your wreath, there's still time to get a beautiful wreath delivered to your door in time for Christmas. There are quite a few stores that are competing with Amazon's fast delivery and getting orders in hand within a few days.
This beautiful Harvest Wreath is not only 20% off, but it's also available for pick up in stores or will ship within 3 days. And of all the wreaths I've viewed, this Fall Magnolia Berry Wreath is probably my most favorite of all. It's neutral enough to carry into winter and it's now eligible for cash back.
If you're feeling up to a good DIY, TaterTots and Jello has some really cute and easy ideas to whip up your own wreath in about 15 minutes.
If you're in need of a centerpiece for your table and dessert table, fresh flower centerpieces are a great option to quickly give the table an elegant pop of color. I’m crazy for fresh flowers on the table and while they can be a little more pricey, there’s nothing like their beauty. This Family Gathering Centerpiece is a gorgeous option for a long table while the Sunrise Splendor is an elegant option to add height. Both are now 20% off with code AFCJNOV176 (for a limited time). Faux cake or faux pie centerpieces make beautiful additions to dessert tables as well.
Decide on your table settings and make sure that they're cleaned and ironed for the big day. I'm a big fan of using pumpkin orange in my Thanksgiving tablescape. These cute little bow napkin rings are a cute idea to add some color if you're using neutrals.
One Week Before Thanksgiving
Now is the time to add all of your finishing touches. Finalize your guest list to make sure you have enough food and place settings. These printable lists are a nice touch to helping with keeping organized. Also double check to make sure you haven't forgotten any ingredients you need. There's nothing more frustrating than needing a quick run to the store at the last minute when you're in the middle of prepping a dish.
Make sure you have activities to keep busy guests both big and small. My family loves the party game Mafia. It's a great way to keep people guessing and includes quite a bit of bluffing and deceit, but it's a ton of fun!
Food Prep and Miscellaneous
Make a list of all of the dishes you need to prep and the time you'll need to prepare them. If you're using recipes, place them in an area that's easy to grab when it's time to cook.
(Side note: check out my Pumpkin Pecan Pie recipe for a delicious twist on traditional pumpkin pie this year.)
Make sure you have bathroom necessities like guest towels and tissue, and that your guest bathroom is cleaned and decorated.
If you ordered your wreath, make sure it's placed to welcome guests and give your front door area a good sweep.
Three Days Before Thanksgiving
This is the day to make sure your silverware and glasses are shined and ready for the table. Clean all of your table accessories that you'll place on your table. Note anything you'd like to add and purchase those things in store or borrow them.
Purchase drinks and make sure you have enough ice.
Make sure you also buy any fresh fruits and veggies you'll be preparing as well as other perishable items.
Don't forget to pick up your turkey. Remember that frozen turkeys will need to be defrosted in the refrigerator for about three days before cooking.
Plan For Leftovers
What's Thanksgiving without leftovers? Make sure you have enough containers to store or give away leftovers. These are great leak proof containers that I use in my own home. However, if you'll be giving food to family and friends, these may also be an economically good choice.
Get Done Any Cleaning
Tidy up the house. Concentrate on one room at a time with particular focus on the areas that your guests will be spending the most time.
Two Days Before Thanksgiving
Prepare your ice bucket and pitchers. Set glasses upside down on your table and make sure you have enough drinks in the fridge. Also prepare your coffee bar or service station to serve coffee with dessert.
Side Dish Check
Set out your bread to stale for homemade stuffing and make cranberry sauce to chill. Homemade cranberry sauce is best chilled for at least 24 hours before serving. Defrost frozen rolls in the fridge for a slow rise over Thanksgiving Eve.
Set The Table
Place all serving bowls and platters and make sure you have room for everything you'll be serving. If you will need extra room for children or other guests, prepare a small folding table, such as a card table for extra seating. Make sure your flowers are picked up/delivered. Arrange your table settings and print name cards for seating if you'll use them.
Prepare the Dessert Table
Set your dessert table with linens, plates, and serving pieces. Place your tiered trays, and cake plates and don't forget a centerpiece for your dessert table.
Make Ahead Dinner For the Day Before Thanksgiving
Prepare a dinner to make the night before Thanksgiving simple. You'll be cooking for your big dinner and having dinner prepared for Wednesday in advance will be a serious stress relief. Creamy Pumpkin Pot Pie with Chicken is an easy and delish make ahead dinner. Another option...pizza delivery. Just make sure to order pizza a few hours ahead of when you'd usually eat dinner. Pizza delivery is the number one delivery service on Thanksgiving Eve.
One Day Before Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Eve is the day to make sure all of your final details are in place. Last minute trips to the store are inevitable at my house, so don't feel bad if you have to make a quick run. Just remember that stores may close a little earlier during holiday times.
Pre Prep Your Side Dishes and Appetizers
Chop, dice, and julienne your veggies and make any side dishes that can be made early. Peel potatoes, if you boil them for mashed potatoes. We prefer to bake our potatoes to retain flavor and nutrients in our mashed potatoes, but if you do prefer peeled and boiled potatoes, make sure you store them and your other veggies in water and place them in the fridge to keep them from turning brown.
Make your dinner rolls and refrigerate them. Dinner rolls that rise slowly in the fridge have amazing texture.
Get out the carving knife and any other utensils.
Make your desserts and prepare your your appetizers. Make sure you have condiments ready for food and desserts.
It's finally the big day. Make sure you're ready for guests to arrive. Ask for help if you need it. It's always good to have extra hands, and don't forget to incorporate the kids when soliciting help. Kids are wonderful helpers with taking coats.
Turkey Baking Time
Take your turkey out of the fridge and make your stuffing. Season and bake your turkey, basting continuously, about every 30 minutes. Finish additional side dishes while your turkey is baking. Serve your turkey after giving it a 15 minute rest time.
In a Nutshell
With a little simple planning, you can host an amazing Thanksgiving dinner. A few simple tasks each day will help to get your big dinner off to a great start with minimal stress. Are you ready?