Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start prepping for your feast. A checklist, advance planning, and the right tools will let you greet the holiday season feeling prepared and confident. Use these seven simple steps to help you get ready for your Thanksgiving dinner.
1. Invite Your Guests
Get a general head count at least two weeks ahead of your Thanksgiving dinner so you can start planning the menu. Ask if anyone has any dietary restrictions so you can plan accordingly.
2. Plan Your Menu
Once you know how many people are coming, start planning what you’re going to serve. This is a great time to also ask your guests if they want to bring any appetizers, desserts, or side dishes. Besides the main dish, which is almost always turkey, what type of side dishes are you going to serve? You can choose the traditional route or get inventive with dishes that will surprise and excite your guests.
- Moroccan Meatballs With Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
- Autumn Baked Ziti With Squash
- Apple, Beet & Carrot Salad
3. Get Your Kitchen Essentials
Make sure your kitchen is fully prepared for the big feast. Do you have the right tools for veggie prepping like a vegetable peeler or food chopper? Do you have bakers for casseroles and stuffing? Go through your kitchen cabinets and drawers before the big day so you’re not scrambling for tools Thanksgiving morning.
4. Buy Your Turkey and Staple Items Early
Beat the rush to the grocery store and get your turkey and staple items like butter, sugar, flour, and eggs about two weeks before Thanksgiving. The last thing you want to worry about is running around town looking for some of the most essential foods for the dinner at the last minute. When it comes to the turkey, get approximately 1½ to 2 pounds per person. And be certain the bird will fit in your freezer, fridge, and oven! Go back to the store a few days before Thanksgiving to get the rest of the fresh ingredients on your shopping list.
5. Plan Your Thanksgiving Decorations
Set up your Thanksgiving tablescape a few days before the big feast. Decide on a centerpiece or make your own and gather other tabletop decorations you need. You can’t go wrong with real or fake leaves, wreaths, candles, and little pumpkins. A great way to dress up your table is with beautiful stoneware serving platters and bowls.
6. Prep for the Meal
The best thing you can do to help yourself on Thanksgiving is to prepare as much of the food as you can a few days before. Prep your veggies, make your pies, cut your bread for stuffing, and more. This will give you a chance to double check that you have everything you need and still give you time to run back out if you need more ingredients.
When the big day finally arrives, you can feel confident and relaxed about the meal ahead because you’ve prepared as much as you could. That morning, prepare your stuffing and turkey. If you have dishes that will take longer than the rest to cook, get them in the oven or the slow cooker first. Prep any pre-dinner appetizers and finish the rest of your side dishes. By the time your guests arrive, you should be ready to go and enjoy a fun and festive day.
This post has been updated since it was originally published in October 2016.