For planning the meal and all the other details that go into a festive dinner, a Thanksgiving Timeline is a great tool to use to keep your holiday plan on track and lighten your stress leading up to the big day. Use a manila folder, planner or even your iPhone calendar app to keep track of your family’s Thanksgiving dinner plan, lists and schedule.
Three weeks before: Confirm the guest list, menu, family chore list assignments, shopping list, table/decorating designs, and decide on what time dinner will be.
Two weeks before: Finalize what guests are bringing, and finalize shopping lists. Do grocery shopping. Start making extra ice and store it in freezer bags.
One week before: Make any chutneys, glazes, jellies or relishes you need for your menu items. Purchase a frozen turkey and put it in the fridge to unthaw for three days if you are going to brine. If not, leave in freezer until three days before. Chop veggies for stuffing/dressing. Gather together decorating items and add missing/needed items to shopping list. Make arrangements for extra tables and chairs if needed. Do all the pre-meal, heavy cleaning inside and outside the house. Check the family games and movies to make sure all the pieces are there and everything works.
Three days before: Make any desserts that can be refrigerated. Pre-prep the appetizers. Start the process to brine your turkey, or place frozen turkey in refrigerator to thaw. Clean out the fridge. Double check with guests about their attendance and items they are bringing. Make cornbread for dressing and let sit out on the counter.
Two days before: Prepare side dishes that can be premade and refrigerated. Pull out dinnerware and serving pieces. Assemble casseroles and refrigerate. Chill beverages.
The day before: Thaw frozen/prepped veggies or any pre-made desserts. Set the table. Finalize your ‘day of’ timeline. Get with family members and verify each chore assignments for the day. Make tea and other drinks. Charge cameras and batteries for all digital equipment. Have family members do a quick sweep of all zones in the house that needed a quick clean and picking up.
The day of: Assemble any salads and trays in the morning. Plan to rest your turkey for 45minutes to 1 hour after baking so the juice does not leach from the meat, cook casseroles, rolls and any other last minute items that need baking/reheating during this hour.
An hour before: Start setting up the drink stations, bowls and platters. Put out appetizers, and other non-perishables. Make gravy.
Ten minutes before: Set out perishables.
Afterward: Place all dirty linens in washing machine. Fill dishwasher with dinnerware, silverware and glasses. Put away leftovers. Fill sink to soak pots and pans. Clear and clean kitchen counters and dining table. Organize the family playing games and watching movies. Run another load of dishes in the dishwasher, if needed. Have guests take home their dishware and chairs or any leftovers you are sharing.
Three days after: Send out thank you cards!
To easily make your timeline, just print out our free and Easy Holiday Hostess Planning printable. How many of you think a timeline like this will help ease your holiday load? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
The Simple Things series is written by April Patel, contributing writer tonaturalthrifty.com. April is a freelance writer, single mom, homeschooler and pseudo urban homesteader and she blogs at An Apple a Day Wisdom. Like her Facebook page today so you don’t miss any of her daily doses of apple!