It’s easy to start panicking when the holidays creep ever closer, especially if you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your house. But while a little bit of excited stress is good, too much will just ruin the holidays and is bad for your health. To avoid a stressful Thanksgiving, we’ve created a schedule that you can use as a general guideline to aid in your house and dinner preparations.
The Week Before Thanksgiving
We begin our schedule with the week before the food-lover’s holiday. The more you can set-up beforehand, the less rushed and the less stressed you will be as Thanksgiving gets closer. No one likes to realize that they didn’t do all their grocery shopping the night before having 12 people over for dinner.
- First, WRITE DOWN YOUR MENU, recipes and all. You don’t want to go searching for the recipe when it’s time to cook. If it’s a recipe found online, print it out. If it’s a recipe in a book, bookmark it and write down the title and page number. We recommend no more than eight dishes, including dessert. MAKE YOUR SHOPPING LIST at the same time you create your menu.
- ORDER YOUR TURKEY, unless you’re happy to get whatever is available. When you are throwing a big gathering, it is advisable to reserve the type and size of turkey that you want with your local grocery store, if they allow you to do so.
- HOW WILL YOU SET YOUR TABLE? Do you have your seasonal tablecloth? All your plateware, silverware, and glassware? If not, this is the time to get it all squared away. You don’t want to find out you don’t have enough forks the day of.
- DRESS UP THE HOUSE – No Thanksgiving is complete without a little fall decoration for the house, or at least the dining room. Take care of all your house cleaning and decorating the week before to take a load off your mind when the week of craziness kicks in.
The Week of Thanksgiving
- Monday – Clean out the refrigerator and do your Thanksgiving dinner grocery shopping. Remember that at least part of your turkey will likely still be frozen so you need time for it to completely thaw. This will take some time if it is an especially large turkey.
- Tuesday – If you are brining your turkey, that should be done today. Also today, make your pies (they will taste even better when made ahead of time because the spices get a longer time to develop), wash the dinnerware, and cut and dry out bread cubes for stuffing.
- Wednesday – If you will be making homemade gravy, this is the time to make your turkey stock with the neck, giblets, and vegetables. This is also when you want to do all the vegetable prep work, like washing and chopping so all you have to do the day-off is put it together. Finally, set the table, make the stuffing, and dinner rolls or other bread.
- Thanksgiving Morning/Afternoon – Do not sleep in Thanksgiving morning. Get up early, have a good breakfast, grab a cup of coffee, and get started. Take the turkey out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature and put any beverages needing chilling in the refrigerator. Cook everything that needs to be baked in the oven first so there is no interruption when the turkey goes in and then get that turkey roasting in the oven.
- Just Before Thanksgiving Dinner – While the turkey rests, place all pre-made dishes into oven to heat up while you make the gravy. Finally, take your pre-made pies out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature.