Your 5-Day Thanksgiving Planning Checklist

November 15th, 2023

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Planning ahead—and doing one thing at a time—can take the stress out of your holiday hosting duties. We’ve put together this 5-day checklist to help you get a jump start on the planning process, so you can relax and enjoy the festivities. 

5 Days Ahead 

Plan your menu and create your shopping list. (And check the defrosting instructions on your turkey if it’s frozen.)
If you haven’t finalized your menu, today is the day. By now you should know who’s coming and what they’re bringing (unless you’re preparing the entire meal yourself). Decide on the dishes you’ll be making (need some ideas?), as well as the other essentials to round out the feast, like bread, cranberry sauce, butter, drinks, and coffee/tea. Here’s a list of essentials for your Thanksgiving shopping list. And depending upon the size of your frozen turkey, you may need to start the defrosting process today. The best way to thaw a bird is to place it in the coldest part of your fridge with a pan underneath.

4 Days Ahead

Clean and organize. 
Frantically cleaning the house the night before your guests arrive is a super stressful way to kick off the holidays. Get all of your deep cleaning, i.e. bathrooms and floors, out of the way a few days in advance. While you’re at it, this is a good time to clean out the fridge to make way for all of those delicious dishes (and leftovers). You also will want to create space in the mudroom for your guests’ coats and shoes.

3 Days Ahead 

You could pick up your non-perishables today and wait another day or two for fresh items, or go ahead and get it all at once.  Allow yourself a little extra time to enjoy the shopping experience, as opposed to thinking of it as something to just “get through.” It’s fun to peruse the seasonal items on the shelf, and you might even remember a few things you forgot to include on your list! If you need help picking a wine, here’s a list of excellent Turkey Day pairings or look for the Thanksgiving Wine Pick tags in our stores!

2 Days Ahead

Gather (and clean) your dinnerware, glassware, and table decorations.
These details are often the last things we think about. But nothing creates stress like waiting until the last minute to clean china that’s have been sitting in the cupboard since last holiday season, or scavenging the house for napkin rings while your guests are walking in the door. Things to think about
: tablecloths and table runners; placemats; napkins and napkin rings; china;  stemware (plus those cute little wine glass charms); and table decorations. Here are some fun and easy DIY centerpiece ideas.

1 Day Ahead

Prepare sides and desserts and pre-season your turkey.
Hopefully you can set aside a few hours to settle into the kitchen and enjoy the cooking and baking process. Whether you brine your turkey or prefer a rub, turkeys should be pre-seasoned at least a day in advance. Read our handy online guide, “How to Cook Your Turkey and Make a Killer Gravy.” If you use a rub, we suggest seasoning both inside the cavity and under the skin. 

Thanksgiving Day

Roast the turkey and cook (or reheat) the rest of your meal.
There’s nothing like the smell of turkey wafting through the house on Thanksgiving Day.
After you’ve put the bird in the oven, you can focus on the finishing touches—preparing any remaining dishes and setting the table. Then pour yourself a drink. You deserve it!

Happy Thanksgiving!


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