The key to stress-free entertaining is to plan ahead—especially when it comes to the Thanksgiving meal. Our timeline will help you stay on track. You can do much of the prep work in advance, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the company of your family and friends on the day of the feast.
1 to 2 Weeks Before Thanksgiving
- Confirm the number of guests and plan your menu.
- Order your turkey.
- Plan your table setting, serving dishes and decorations.
- Read through all your recipes to determine the food and cooking equipment you will need.
- Make your shopping and to-do lists.
- Shop for nonperishable food items plus any cooks' tools, cooking equipment and tableware you need.
A Few Days Before Thanksgiving
- Prepare the turkey brine but do not add the turkey; cover and refrigerate.
- Prepare any food that can be done ahead of time, such as pie pastry and cranberry sauce.
The Day Before Thanksgiving
- Complete your food shopping.
- If you ordered a fresh turkey, pick it up or have it delivered.
- If you are going to brine the turkey, place it in the brine and refrigerate.
- Prepare any dishes that can be made in advance, such as soup and pies.
- Chop vegetables for the side dishes; refrigerate in covered bowls or sealable plastic bags.
- Set the table.
- Refrigerate wines that need chilling.
- Peel and cut the potatoes; place in cold water and refrigerate.
- Prepare the stuffing and other side dishes.
- Prepare the turkey for roasting and put in the oven at the determined time. If you plan to stuff the bird, do not stuff it until just before you put it in the oven.
- While the turkey is roasting, make the mashed potatoes.
- While the turkey is resting, make the gravy and cook or reheat the side dishes.
- Carve the turkey and serve your guests.
- Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!