I tend to overthink things. Kind of a lot. That's why you shouldn't be surprised that I have a ridiculously detailed timeline for Thanksgiving. It helps me make sure that everything is ready, and it's great to use for your first Thanksgiving. It's a combination of things I've learned over the years, the Thanksgiving manifesto I inherited from my mother when I held my first Thanksgiving, and what I've learned from Martha, too. I've also included a printable version of this, to post on your fridge. Trust me, it will make your life easier during this hectic time!
Type A Mommy's Thanksgiving TimelinePrinter-friendly version
2-3 weeks before Thanksgiving
* Plan your menu
* Decide if you would like guests to bring anything, like side dishes or desserts
* Decide if your dinner will be sit-down or buffet-style
* Make your master grocery list, with all the items you need in order to make the recipes you've selected.
* Create a list of everything you need to purchase/gather
* Go grocery shopping and buy your non-perishables now. It's easier on your wallet this way, and easier in case you forget something. Don't forget other items like aluminum foil, paper towels, and decor items like candles and napkins and such.
* Take an inventory and make sure you have:
* Table(s) big enough for your guests
* Chairs (though you can always ask guests to bring a chair if you're short)
* Plates, glassware and silverware for guests
* Table linens
* Serving ware and dishes
* Roasting pan or disposable aluminum roasting pan
One week before
* National Thaw Day! Time to take that turkey out and put it in the fridge to thaw. Allow one full day to thaw for every four pounds of turkey you have. A fully thawed turkey may remain in the fridge for four days before cooking. Better to thaw early than late!
* Wash all of your holiday dishes, glasses, and silverware. Iron all tablecloths and napkins.
* Review your shopping list. Cross off the non-perishables you bought last week, and review to make sure you've got everything covered. Don't forget to include munchies for the living room while your guests await dinner. You can always make pumpkin bread for snacking or roast some nuts.
* Do your final grocery shop. Trust me, you don't want to be at the grocery store on Wednesday, or trying to find one that's open on Thursday (but you want to know which one is open on Thursday, just in case!!).
The Week of Thanksgiving
* Decorate your house. Use pumpkins and gourds, Indian corn and the like. If you need to create arranged seating, do so and make placecards.
* Review your recipes, and make your Turkey Day Timeline. What needs to go in the oven when? What early prep work can you do to make your life easier?
* Bake desserts and side dishes that can be refrigerated a few days before.
* Clear out your coat closet (unless you live in Florida, in which case, this is totally unnecessary).
* Clean the guest bathroom and put fresh towels in it.
* Pick out your Thanksgiving outfit, as well as your cooking outfit. I always cook in a different outfit, because I don't have a full-body apron. Inevitably I get something on myself every year in random locations - sleeves, pant legs, etc.
* Set the table.
* Eat breakfast - you will be much more delightful to be around if you do.
* Make the stuffing in the morning, but don't stuff the turkey until it's ready to go in the oven.
* Make sure to get the turkey in the oven on time or early so it will be ready on schedule.
* Take a deep breath and relax. Try to enjoy the day. If something goes wrong, so be it. Try to learn something from it, or at least have a laugh about it.
* Enjoy yourself!