Hosting Thanksgiving is always a little overwhelming. This holiday is all about bringing everyone together over delicious food and creating a warm, relaxing atmosphere. But a lot of people means a lot of prep! It doesn’t have to be so difficult. We put together this timeline to help you become a Thanksgiving hosting pro.
Good news: The first step is so simple that you can do it right now!
3 Weeks Before
Whether it’s as charming as a card through the mail or as casual as a text, everyone appreciates getting a personal invite. Ask them early so you can hear back in time and plan for how much food you’ll need! Think about what you might want your guests to make, if they offer. Sides and desserts are perfect to get a little extra help on. (You know your aunt makes the best pumpkin pies.) Now that’s one less thing you have to worry about!
10 Days Before
Take time to plan your menu. Of course there’ll be leftovers—the best part, let’s be honest—but you don’t want to go overboard with purchasing food. This is why it’s important to finalize that guest list and know your headcount. Make sure to order your turkey as early as you can. Then start brainstorming for all the sides. Will you make mashed or roasted potatoes? Are you going with green bean casserole or Brussels sprouts? Prepping your list ahead of time will make everything easier when it’s time to shop!
Pro Tip: Ask any new guests if they have any dietary restrictions. You want everyone to feel welcome at your table!
Plan on serving cocktails? Make sure your bar is well stocked with everyone’s favorite drink. Have both white and red wine options, plus a rosé if you’re feeling fancy. You can also make a pitcher of mixed drinks ahead of time to get everyone started! Our friends at feedfeed crafted this delicious sparkling fall sangria recipe. The combination of warm spices and fruit will go great with Thanksgiving flavors.
The Week Before
Now it’s time to take out that grocery list and start shopping! Having everything ready up-front will make it easier on you later, plus you’ll beat the rush of last-minute shoppers.
Pro Tip: Tall candlesticks are beautiful but can get in the way of conversation. Opt for tea lights in pretty votive holders instead!
The week before is also a great time to bake any desserts (or buy—we won’t tell). Keep in mind you should also start thawing your turkey by moving it from the freezer to the fridge about 4 to 5 days before. Rule of thumb is one day for every 4 lbs.
The Day Before
Time for the sides to shine! Bake any casseroles, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes or stuffing. Then make your veggies and reheat when it’s time to eat! Be sure to leave some room in your fridge to accommodate any dishes from guests.
Save some time by putting out your dinnerware early. Not sure whether to set a table or lay out a buffet? We thought of that too: read our blog post to find the right style for your Thanksgiving.
Now it’s time to get crafty! We put together some fun DIY ideas that everyone at the table can participate in. You also might find some inspiration for starting a new tradition this year. Having a plan for the after-dinner lull can be a great way to keep everyone smiling, enjoying drinks and chatting until dessert.
The Big Day
All your prep work is done and you only have a few things left to do. Pour some coffee—it’s time to enjoy your morning! Relax, watch the parade or read a book. Take this time to get yourself ready for the party, too. Once you’re all set, you can start the main preparations.
Bake fresh bread. Toss together a salad. Finalize your turkey and make the gravy. Then heat up your sides once it’s time to start digging in.
Now you’re all done! Pour yourself a glass of sangria and enjoy the day—you deserve it!