Thanksgiving Plan-Ahead Schedule and Tips

Blog, Tips & How Tos

Planning for a big holiday dinner party can be stressful! There’s the shopping, the meal-prep and the thoughts of “Where the heck is everyone going to sit?” In order to make your Thanksgiving Dinner as relaxed as possible, we’ve come up with a timeline that you can reference to help cut down on day-of chores.

Thanksgiving Planning Tips

    • Be realistic about what you can do, and how much your refrigerator can hold. Do you really need mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes? Can you do with one or two simple appetizers instead of a large spread before the big dinner?
    • When ordering your turkey, it’s generally recommended that you plan on one pound per person or more if you want leftovers (that weight accounts for the bones as well).
    • If you purchase a frozen turkey, the safest way to defrost it is also the slowest way, on the lowest rack in your refrigeration (you need about 24 hours for every 4 pounds).
    • Take inventory of your serving pieces, pots and pans, and cooking tools. Check your linens, too. You don’t want to be surprised by a stain on your only tablecloth on Thanksgiving morning.
    • Check your pantry before shopping. There’s no need to buy more poultry seasoning if you already have a whole container hiding in the back of a cabinet. You also want to check that you have enough of those ingredients you only use once a year like shortening and baking staples.
    • Shop for some ingredients early so the shopping trip closer to Thanksgiving is that much shorter. Here is a list of fruits and vegetables that will keep for at least a week in your fridge.
    • Clean out your fridge before your first shopping trip to make room for new groceries. It will also keep you organized on Thanksgiving day, when you’ll have little time to mess around with a cluttered fridge.
    • Some of the items you can make early and pop in the freezer include: Gravy, pumpkin/sweet potato/squash purees, pie crust, and cornbread for stuffing.
    • Check your equipment – do you have it, does it still work?

Box Grater
Carving Knife
Carving Fork
Cutting Board (Turkey size!)
Measuring Cups and Spoons
Meat Thermometer
Pie Server
Potato Masher
Serving Spoons
Trusser String

Thanksgiving Schedule

  • Plan your menu: Make a list of all the dishes you would like to serve
  • Order your turkey
  • Take inventory of your serving pieces
  • Make a master shopping list
  • Split it into two lists: items that will keep for a week and items that you need to buy within a few days of your meal
  • Check your pantry for items on hand
  • Clean out your fridge
  • Shop for all non-perishable groceries and anything that will keep for a week
  • Defrost frozen turkey in the refrigerator
  • Make stock for gravy and stuffing, keep enough in the refrigerator to make gravy tomorrow, and freeze the rest
  • Make items that will freeze well
  • Make and refrigerate the cranberry sauce
  • Do your final shopping
  • Make and chill the turkey brine
  • Chop and prep veggies: Chop enough onions, carrots, celery, and garlic for all of your recipes
  • Set bread for stuffing on the counter: you want your bread cubes to get a little stale before you make your stuffing/dressing with them
  • Make dips and salad dressings
  • Thaw anything frozen in refrigerator
  • Make desserts
  • Assemble stuffing and casseroles
  • Brine turkey
  • Make dough for rolls/bread and proof in fridge

Cozi iconCozi Family Organizer is the must-have app for busy families - easy to use and free in the app store. You'll wonder how you managed your busy life before Cozi. Get Cozi today!

Cozi Family Organizer
​The #1 organizing app for families. FREE app and website to manage the family calendar, lists, and to dos – all in one place.

Cozi Gold
​Get the best of Cozi with an ad-free experience and all the premium features. "Worth every penny."
--Charlene M.