Hosting Thanksgiving dinner is an honor – but planning it can be a bit overwhelming when you’re trying to juggle your busy schedule. Whether you’re hosting 8 people or 18, this timetable will help you plan ahead to make this the most memorable and stress-free Thanksgiving yet.
1 to 2 weeks before Thanksgiving…
• Confirm the number of guests.
• Plan your menu, including appetizers and desserts. If your guests are bringing food, select the dishes you’d like them to bring, alert them and write it down.
• Order the turkey if you’re planning on serving a fresh turkey (or catered one).
• Plan your table setting and select your serving dishes, platters and decorations.
• Review all the recipes you’re planning on making and write out a grocery list, itemizing the ingredients by category. Write a separate list for any gourmet items you’ll need at select stores, and determine if there is any special equipment that is required (like a gravy separator or digital thermometer).
• Decide on what liquor you will be serving your guests. Order your favorite wine and purchase liquor, mixers, cordials and beverage napkins.
• Polish silverware.
• Iron tablecloths and napkins.
A few days before…
• Begin thawing turkey according to package directions – if you’re planning on serving a previously frozen turkey.
• Prepare turkey brine, cover and refrigerate – if you’re planning on brining a fresh turkey.
• Prepare any food that can be made ahead of time (like cranberry sauce or relishes).
The day before…
• Complete food shopping and don’t forget to stock up on ice.
• Pick up fresh turkey (or catered turkey) if you ordered one or have it delivered.
• Place turkey in brine solution if you’re planning on brining the fresh turkey.
• Prepare any side dishes, soups and appetizers that can be made ahead of time; cover and refrigerate.
• Bake pies.
• Set the table.
• Make centerpieces or flower arrangements and take out candles if you’re planning on using them for your table scape. For an added touch, make a special smaller flower arrangement for your guest bathroom and put out pretty holiday towels, lotions and soaps for your guests.
• Set up the bar.
• Chop any ingredients you may need for recipes you’ll be cooking the next day and place in storage bags or containers.
• Set up a self-serve coffee station with cups, napkins, sugar and creamer bowls.
• Prepare turkey for roasting and determine roasting time. If you’re planning on stuffing the turkey, do not stuff it until just before putting it in the oven.
• Refrigerate wine that requires chilling.
• If making mashed potatoes – peel and cut the potatoes, place in cold water and refrigerate until you’re ready. Begin making the mashed potatoes while the turkey is roasting.
• Prepare other side dishes.
• Put cranberry relishes or sauces in pretty bowls or plates and set them on the table.
• Put ice in ice bucket.
• Set out appetizers for your guests.
• When the turkey is done and resting, make the gravy and cook or reheat side dishes. Warm the gravy boats with hot running water.
• Carve the turkey.
• Sit down and enjoy the dinner you made with friends and family!
Happy Thanksgiving from Granite Transformations!