A Thanksgiving timeline to make the holiday less stressful? Yes please! I made my reliable timeline ten years ago and can’t do the holiday without it anymore!
If you read my post on supplies I can’t live without for Thanksgiving, then you are very likely HOSTING Thanksgiving.
And a confession I made in that post is that I was scared out of my gourd to host my first Thanksgiving back in 2010 (at the age of 40 I might add!).
Yes – I got away with not cooking my own turkey and stuffing til I was 40 years old!
But now – honestly, my own Thanksgiving meal is my favorite (sorry mom 😘).
And I could not do it without my planning personality trait of writing it all down in a handy dandy timeline.
And yes – I have one for ALL THE THINGS I HOST!
That includes a very large Christmas Eve sit down gathering with friends and family, Easter, Galentine’s Day, my book club month, etc, etc…
Why reinvent the wheel if all you have to do is write it down and tweak it until it is perfect for yourself?
Or second best thing – read a blog post from a plann-aholic laying her timeline out there for you to use ;).
That’s me by the way – in case you were wondering who the plann-aholic was 😂.Jump to Timeline
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In a rush?
Our Thanksgiving Menu
Before I start on my handy timeline – I should probably inform you of our menu for the big day.
This way you have a decent idea of what my timeline for the month actually means!!
A Thanksgiving Timeline to Stress Less
My Thanksgiving Timeline
ONE MONTH BEFORE
- Go through all of your table setting dishes to make sure you have enough for everyone at the table. I have had to buy more silverware in years past as my guest numbers have gotten bigger! So be sure to count how many forks you have because holy cow would that be a bummer if you don't have enough silverware!
- Order all the deliciousness/shortcuts for food that Williams Sonoma provides. Be sure to read my post on all the things I order from my favorite kitchen store to make hosting Thanksgiving 1000 times easier!
- Start collecting recipes you plan to make.Make TWO grocery lists:One for non-perishables that can be bought one or two weeks in advance.And the second of fresh produce that will need to be purchased 1-3 days before the holiday.
ONE WEEK BEFORE
- Set the table. This is one of the best tips I ever gave myself… my first few Thanksgivings I hosted, I would set the table the night before or even the morning of – and let me tell you how much easier it is having done this the week before.One caveat I created for myself in 2020 though – is we have started eating Thanksgiving dinner outside and earlier! So now I just have all the decor by the door ready to be put on the outdoor table the day before (minus the napkins that could get wet if the night before is cold and dewy.
- Do your non-perishable grocery shopping. See my grocery list #1 below if you are needing help knowing what that might be!
- DON'T FORGET TO BUY THE TURKEY! Now is when you put it in the refrigerator to defrost by the way! Unless you are buying a fresh one from a butcher – then that would be picked up the day before!
TWO DAYS BEFORE
- Do your fresh produce grocery shopping. Again – see my list #2 below for ideas!
- Finalize any tablescape details you did not do at the beginning of the month.Set out all plates, silverware, wine glasses, napkins and napkin rings that you were not able to set the table with previously.
- Make pumpkin cookies. We are not actually fans of pumpkin pie in my house – but OMG my pumpkin cookies GO FAST! And are honestly just plain yummier in our opinion ;).
- Make pie crust and refrigerate.
THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING
- Brine turkey using dry brine and brining bags.Refrigerate overnight.
- Make any breads.I make my mom's delicious cranberry bread recipe for both Thanksgiving and Christmas!
- Prepare cranberry sauce, put it in a pretty serving dish, then refrigerate.
- Make turkey stock with fresh giblets, put in leak proof container in refrigerator.
- Chop vegetables for side dishes including stuffing.Refrigerate in a leak proof covered container or plastic bags.
- Make pies.
- Wash brine off of turkey.Prepare turkey with butter and turkey herbs or turkey rub.
- Make mashed potatoes.Keep warm in crock pot on warm setting.
- Make apple cider.Keep warm in smaller crock pot.
- Prepare stuffing using focaccia bread crumbs.Put stuffing in turkey if doing a stuffed turkey.Use twine to close turkey legs.
- Put turkey in oven according to turkey instructions.Work backwards from the desired time you want to sit down to eat – be sure to allow 30 minutes of rest time after the turkey comes out of the oven.I always use this Butterball cooking guide ;).I buy a 20 pound turkey every year to feed anywhere from 14-18 guests so my stuffed bird takes about 5 hours in my oven.
- Prepare vegetable dishes.We usually have a glazed brussel sprouts side dish or fresh green beans.
- Make gravy using this easy gravy base.
- If you are serving rolls with your meal – bake them after the turkey comes out of the oven and is resting.I serve Parker House rolls that come frozen from the grocery store and are defrosted in the morning.
ENJOY YOUR MEAL WITH LOVED ONES!
My Grocery Lists
I hope my timeline is helpful to you in planning your gathering with loved ones.
If you are looking for Thanksgiving tablescape inspiration – you can read my post on how I set my own table.
I also turn to the Williams Sonoma blog for all their recipes and inspiration on how to host a perfect Thanksgiving meal ;).
But remember – the most important piece to this meal is the loved ones you are sitting at the table with.
No amount of preparation or planning can replace just being in the moment and present with the people you enjoy the most.
Be sure to tell them how important they are to you – on Thanksgiving and as often as you possibly can.
Life is fragile and full of curve balls. You will want to make sure that those curved balls don’t leave you with anything important left unsaid 🧡.
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