If you’re planning on hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year for your larger-than-life family, it’s likely that your mind has already begun processing all the things you must do well in advance to ensure the day goes off without a hitch. After all, you can never plan too far in advance for Turkey day, especially if it’s your first time being in charge.
So how far in advance should you start planning? Experts say you should at least start your Thanksgiving countdown three weeks to a month in advance so that you’re stress-free on the big day. Here are a few basics to get you started:
3 weeks before Thanksgiving
Create Your Guest List and Send RSVPs: Consider how many people you can entertain, and then reach out to friends and family either by sending formal invitations, email, group invites on social media, or making a phone call. This is particularly important if anyone is coming in from out of town. Also, it’s an opportunity to ask about any dietary restrictions.
Plan Your Menu: Write down your ideal menu, from the turkey and classics such as stuffing and cranberry sauce to homemade dishes, family recipes, and desserts.
Take Stock of All Your Supplies:
Do you have the necessary equipment and supplies to make this thing happen? We’re talking about pans, dishes, serving dishes, plates, silverware, additional tables for children, tablecloths, etc.
Order The Turkey: You want to get this purchase out of the way now, especially if you need several or if you’re ordering a specialty bird. Bottom line: don’t wait until the last minute. The Food Network suggests that you assume two pounds of turkey per adult and one pound per child.
2 weeks before Thanksgiving
Finalize Guest List: By this point, you should have a good idea of who’s going to be able to make it, including any out-of-town guests. This will help you a great deal with the next item on the to-do list.
Start Grocery Shopping: A lot of fanatics suggest starting with the nonperishable items, and that’s fine. But at this point, why not get everything you need — and if necessary, freeze anything that you’re worried about. This way, you don’t run the risk of showing up to the grocery store last minute and not being able to find what you need.
Clean The House: This is a biggie. A lot of people panic over this piece of the countdown, but if you start two weeks ahead of time, you’ll be able to break up the task over a longer period of time rather than doing it on the morning of.
Start Meal Prepping: During the final few days leading up to Thanksgiving, go ahead and start prepping the pies, sauces, etc. to get some of that out of the way ahead of time.
Pick Up The Turkey: If you’re defrosting a turkey, go ahead and get it a week ahead of time. If you’re buying it pre-cooked, you can safely grab it two or three days ahead of time.
Start Setting The Table AND ENJOY:
Since your guest list is pretty much locked in stone now, go ahead and set your table. It’s almost showtime, so take a deep breath because you’re almost there.