Just as Halloween ended, the Thanksgiving countdown officially began. And since it’s never too early to make all the holiday preparations in advance, we’ve created a checklist with tips to help you get everything under control.
Start now, stay organized, and get your holiday dinner on the table stress-free and fun. Isn’t it the point of Thanksgiving?
When it comes to hosting a holiday, planning meals earlier is always better.
- Plan a dinner menu
Write down every dish you want to serve and the ingredients. Make a shopping list, so you don’t miss anything. We recommend writing down perishables and non-perishables separately. This way, you can pick up products slowly on different days instead of running through the supermarket in a rush.
Also, don’t forget to take into account any special dietary needs for your guests when creating the menu. Determine if anyone invited has food allergies or is a vegan or vegetarian. Then you’ll have time to find substitutes, and no one will be left out or feel disappointed.
- Buy beverages
You need to think about buying beverages in advance because local retailers can have no drinks you’re planning to serve. And if you’ll have to order online, consider the time for shipping (sometimes it can take up to two weeks).
We also recommend you do some calculations to make sure you have enough beverages in the kitchen. It’s safe to assume that most of your guests will need at least one drink per hour.
- Buy a turkey
Purchase the fresh turkey within one or two days of Thanksgiving. But keep in mind that they’re rarely available. That’s why you need to pre-order. If you choose a frozen bird, consider the time for defrosting. For example, you’ll need to keep it in a fridge for 24 hours for every 4 pounds. So if you have a 16-pound turkey, you’ll need four whole days.
If you’re wondering how big of a turkey you should buy, prepare at least one pound of bone-in turkey per guest. Consider having 1 1/2 pounds if you want enough for leftovers.
If you have vegans or vegetarians among your guests, consider buying such Thanksgiving turkey substitutes as cauliflower (to cook a whole roasted cauliflower), tofu, tempeh, or seitan (to make some burgers or simply fry it in breadcrumbs), and butternut squash, eggplant, or zucchini (to fill in with cereals and veggies).
- Invite guests
While there’s no Thanksgiving etiquette for how far in advance you should send invitations, we believe two to three weeks is an acceptable amount of time to allow people to figure out their plans.
Firstly, decide how much money you can spend for Thanksgiving this year and calculate how many people you can invite. According to statistics provided by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner is less than $5 per person. But, of course, this number looks unrealistic for those residing in high-cost-of-living areas. You can also use Thanksgiving food calculators for more accurate results.
Then, make a note of who you want to invite. For your convenience, check off when you invite them. After that, you can once again note if they are coming or not.
Keep your guest list organized and track of special dietary needs with these free Thanksgiving checklist templates.
Preparing the house
Make sure your house is in good order and that your guests will feel comfortable by getting these essential tasks done before Thanksgiving.
- Clean the house
Cleaning can be quick and less painful if you take it in tiny strategic steps. If you are short of time, don’t strive for perfection. Instead, clean only the rooms your guests will wander the most. These are the living room, dining room, bathroom, and guest bedrooms in case you have overnight visitors. Also, clear a place for coats and bags. To make the process easier, take ten minutes to tidy up, ten minutes to dust, and ten minutes to vacuum. If you have little time, don’t worry. You can turn off overhead lights and turn on lamps. Use some candles instead. This simple trick will help you draw the eye away from any areas that weren’t deep cleaned, and just make every guest feel cozy.
- Set the dining table
Double-check if you have enough of everything for every guest. Prepare napkins, plates, cups, glasses, and serving bowls. Remember to wash your holiday plates and glasses in advance if they’ve become dusty in storage. Now it’s also the perfect time to wash your tablecloths. Finally, ensure you have enough tables and chairs for your guests.
Prepare a cup of coffee for yourself and take a deep breath. You’ve almost finished.
- Roast the turkey
Remove the bird from the refrigerator at least one hour before you start cooking it. Prepare the stuffing while you’re waiting.
- Bake sweet potatoes
Would it really be Thanksgiving without the classic baked sweet potatoes? Make it with pecans or marshmallows!
- Don’t forget about desserts
For those with a sweet tooth, prepare brownies, a pumpkin pie, and a trifle. But don’t add a beef layer as Rachel from “Friends” did.
Finally, run the dishwasher so it will be empty and ready for party dishes.
- Be thankful
Guests are here! So gather everyone around the table, be thankful, and enjoy the holidays with those you love.
You may not have even taken down Halloween decorations, but Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. And if you’re hosting the dinner this year, the time has come to plan out everything. In this guide, we share with you our Thanksgiving day checklist from our gallery that will help you avoid stressful preparations. Happy Thanksgiving!
Maria is a content maven at Cheqmark and is a regular contributor to our blog and social media.