- Make a guest list of family and friends that you want to include. The more the merrier!
- Send an invitation and ask people what they plan to bring.
- Take inventory. Once you get a general idea of how many will attend, take inventory of your china, glassware, silverware and serving dishes. (It's OK if it doesn't all match!)
- Pick your décor. Decide on tablescape ideas: napkins, candles, tablecloths and decorations. I love to use fall harvest nuts, berries and pumpkins in my decorations.
2 Weeks Ahead
- Finalize the menu.
- Shop for non-perishable items.
- Pick your turkey: fresh or frozen?*
- Make and freeze a meal for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
If you're buying a frozen turkey, get it now (if you have the freezer space). If going the fresh route, place your order with a local butcher or turkey producer. Allow 3/4 pound per person for a whole turkey and 1/2 a pound per person for a turkey breast. Don't buy turkeys larger than 15 pounds. The bigger they are, the older they are. As we all know, when we get old, we get touch and mean!
1 Week Ahead
Thaw the turkey if frozen. Make sure there's room for it to thaw in the refrigerator. Use a large pan to catch any juices that might escape as it thaws. Allow 1 day of thaw time for every 4 pounds of bird. For example, a 12-pound bird will need 3 days to thaw.
5 Days Ahead
Get the family involved in planning "use it up meals" to clear space in the refrigerator for the next few nights.
3 Days Ahead
- Shop for perishable items. Group items according to recipe in the pantry or refrigerator.
- Set up the beverage area. Choose a central area in the kitchen or dining room to stock with assorted glasses, cocktail napkins, an ice bucket, a bottle opener, a wine key and a small can for recyclables.
- Set the table with tablecloth and decorations if you have a separate formal dining area.
2 Days Ahead
- Make desserts. Plan on 1 1/2 servings per person. Typically, people like to sample a couple of desserts, so make sure you have enough.
- Clean the house and pick up the yard.
1 Day Ahead
- Prepare side dishes that can be held overnight, such as cranberries or sweet potato casserole. Cut and chop ingredients for salads but don't toss with dressing until just before serving.
- Pick up last-minute items like prepared rolls and ice.
- Time your turkey. Roast 12-15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees F. The turkey should be done 1 hour before dinner so it can cool slightly and carve easily.
- Set out all serving dishes and utensils.
- Chill beverages.