Do you have a crowd coming for Thanksgiving? With careful, advance planning the biggest feast of the year can also be the easiest to host. Here’s a timeline you can follow to make sure you’re not pulling your hair out by the time your guests arrive.
Will Thanksgiving weekend include overnight guests? Now is the time to get started on any maintenance or repairs you need to do to get your house guest-ready.
Plan the menu and decide whether you want to be the sole cook or whether you want some of your guests to bring a dish. If you’re going to go with a semi-potluck let your guests know what you would like them to bring, and provide them with recipes or other instructions if needed.
Place orders for any hard-to-find specialty foods you may be planning to serve, and if you’re planning on making fresh cranberry sauce, buy fresh cranberries now before supplies run short.
Clean out your freezer to create space for make-ahead food dishes.
Clean out your fridge, organize your kitchen and get out any special pans or tableware you’ll need.
Do an inventory of tables, chairs and serving utensils you’ll need, polish your silver and wash linens.
Start de-frosting the turkey if you’re using a frozen one. The safest way to defrost is in the refrigerator; plan on a full day of defrosting for every five pounds of bird.
Time for the second trip to the grocery store! This time for fresh produce and to pick up your orders
Prepare pies, and make cranberry sauce and stuffing (but don’t stuff the bird until right before you put it in the oven).
Give the house a good cleaning, and make sure the bathroom your guests will be using is well stocked with toilet paper, soap and hand towels.
Arrange decorations and put out fresh flowers—the more you can do ahead the more relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving Day will be. Pay attention to your front entrance--welcome guests with a clean porch and a nice seasonal display and make arrangements for parking if you’re expecting a crowd.
Your turkey will need five to seven hours of prep and roasting time, so plan the day’s schedule accordingly (don’t forget to take the giblets and neck out of the inside of the turkey before you put it in the oven!)
Mash the potatoes, complete the other vegetable dishes and warm up the dishes you made ahead.
Light the candles, take a deep breath and enjoy a wonderful day with family and friends!