Thanksgiving countdown

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Thanksgiving countdown

One month before:

  • Guest List: send invites. Facebook events make it easy to keep track of responses and what everyone is bringing
  • Plan menu
  • Organize recipes in one spot

Three weeks before

  • Make a master grocery list
  • Order fresh turkey
  • Shop for drinks
  • Make a list of perishables, and buy a few each week
  • Clean glasses and polish silverware. Do a count of plates, glasses, and silverware to ensure you have enough.
  • Do you have enough chairs? Borrow or rent some.
  • Baking: Mix dry ingredients and place them in a plastic bag. Tape the recipe to it. Make your baking schedule (what you will bake and when). Mark on calendar

Two weeks before

  • Clean and press Thanksgiving clothes
  • Clean freezer
  • Make and freeze pie shells. Or make the pie and freeze it.
  • Make and freeze roll dough
  • Freeze homemade stock
  • Plan serving bowls for each dish–label bowls
  • Check your pots and pans. Do you have enough?
  • Wash and press table linen
  • Plan decorations

One week before

  • List your menu items, making a note of how long it takes to cook each dish. Make up a cooking schedule.
  • Shop for non-perishables
  • Make and freeze soup
  • Pick up turkey
  • Clean out refrigerator


  • Make ice. Save money by making ice and storing it in a food-safe bag.
  • Bake cornbread for stuffing. Not everyone uses cornbread for stuffing. Check your stuffing recipe for directions.


  • Defrost turkey. Allow one day for each 4 to 5 pounds
  • Buy perishables


  • Make cranberry sauce, Jell-O, and other cold dishes.
  • Pies: make or defrost. Don’t bake
  • Defrost stock
  • Set out bread for stuffing to dry
  • Fill salt and pepper shakers
  • Assemble reheatable side dishes such as sweet potato casserole, scallop corn, green bean casserole, stuffed squash, etc.


  • Bake pies late in the day
  • Chop nuts, vegetables, and cheese that you will be using for your dishes
  • Bake reheatable dishes
  • Make appetizers
  • Wash and dry salad greens. Store in a plastic bag in the crisper
  • Set the table. Place salt and pepper shakers on the table.
  • Set up dessert and/or appetizer sidebars: plates, forks, spoons, pie servers, napkins, and other non-food items.
  • Chill beverages
  • Place dry ingredients for your dishes in a plastic bag and tape the recipe to the bag. Place in serving bowl with serving spoon. Note: Stuffing–for safety reasons– should not have wet ingredients mixed with the dry until right before cooking.
  • Thaw rolls/scones. Bake if not already made.
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to make a purchase, you will not be charged extra. Disclosure Policy


The schedule for Thanksgiving day will vary depending on the time of the meal, the size of your turkey, if you are stuffing it, and what side dishes you are serving.

4 to 7 hours before

  • Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let it warm to room temperature for one hour (see All Recipes for cooking times).
  • Preheat oven
  • Bake side dishes and/or rolls

3 to 6 hours before

  • Place turkey in the oven

3 hours before

  • Finish table centerpieces
  • Prep baskets for bread
  • Prep appetizers and/or relish trays
  • Put milk and sugar in their serving containers. Keep milk chilled

1 hour before

  • Remove mashed potatoes and side dishes from the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature.
  • Place cranberry sauce and butter on the table

30 minutes before

  • Check the turkey’s temperature and remove it from the oven when the thigh temperature reaches 165 degrees. Tent the turkey and let it rest for half an hour.
  • If you stuff your turkey, remove the stuffing and place it in a baking dish. Heat until temp reaches 165 degrees.
  • Reheat side dishes
  • Warm rolls
  • Place salad in a serving bowl with tongs. Set it and salad dressing on the table.
  • Fill water and wine glasses
  • Start coffee
  • Make gravy
  • Place appetizers on the table or sidebar.

Just before…

  • Crave turkey
  • Place side dishes and gravy on the table.
  • Place rolls in bread basket and place on the table
  • Place sugar bowl and milk on the table or dessert sidebar

Shopping guide

Thanksgiving serving bowls:  Amazon  ebay

Thanksgiving tablecloths: Amazon

Thanksgiving napkins: Amazon

Thanksgiving platters and trays:  Amazon

Thanksgiving salt and pepper shakers:  Amazon

Casserole dishes: Amazon

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More information:

Thanksgiving Gratitude: Ideas and Activities

Thanksgiving Gratitude: Ideas and Activities


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