Thanksgiving Planning Timeline

No need to worry about planning the perfect holiday meal. This timeline will help save time, money, and your sanity in the weeks and days leading up to Thanksgiving festivities.  

One Month before the Meal

  • Make menu plan
  • Order your turkey, duck or ham
  • Plan for centerpiece
  • Plan table cover
  • Bake cookies for snacks; cool, wrap and freeze
  • Clean out your pantry. Toss any items that have expired or have questionable purchase dates.
  • Clean out refrigerator and freezer

Two Weeks before the Meal

  • Review menu plan
  • Make shopping list
  • Purchase any non-perishables
  • Confirm guest list
  • Prepare a test batch of any new recipe planning to use
  • Bake, cook, and crumble bread for stuffing

One Week before the Meal

  • Clean and organize refrigerator
  • Bake and freeze pies
  • Bake and freeze cake
  • Prepare and freeze dinner rolls
  • Remove turkey from freezer and refrigerate to defrost (24 hours thawing time for every 5 pounds of turkey)

Four Days before the Meal

  • Check food supplies on hand
  • Review menu plan
  • Review grocery list
  • Purchase needed items
  • Check tableware
  • Make cranberry sauce and refrigerate (if fresh cranberries are used)

Two Days before the Meal

  • Purchase last-minute and perishable items
  • Prepare centerpiece (if using silk flowers)
  • Prepare congealed or marinated salad and refrigerate
  • Stew giblets; cool and refrigerate (for gravy, if desired)

One Day before the Meal

  • Put cranberry sauce in serving dish; cover and refrigerate
  • Prepare vegetables; cool and refrigerate
  • If serving ham, bake, cool and refrigerate it
  • Set table
  • Prepare centerpiece and place on table (if using fresh flowers)
  • Put coffee water in pot; set aside
  • Prepare tossed salad; cover and refrigerate

The Day of the Meal

  • Prepare stuffing or dressing
  • Remove rolls from freeze to rise
  • Bake turkey and stuffing (plan to remove from the oven 30 minutes before serving time)
  • Put sugar and cream into serving containers, cover (refrigerate cream)
  • Chop giblets and make gravy; cool and refrigerate

One Hour before the Meal

  • Heat vegetables and gravy
  • Perk coffee
  • Prepare tea
  • Remove pies and cake from freezer

Last Minute Jobs before the Meal

  • Place sugar, light cream, cranberry sauce on table
  • Bake rolls
  • Place other food items on the table
  • Place pies in the oven to defrost

Immediately Following the Meal

  • Refrigerate leftovers
  • Clean kitchen
  • Debone chicken or turkey (bones may be boiled and stock used to flavor soups, stews and gravies)

One Day after the Meal

  • Plan use of leftovers:
    • Casseroles
    • Sandwiches
    • Salads
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