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Thanksgiving is right around the corner and there’s no better time to start planning your menu than right now. Whether you’re hosting a traditional family Thanksgiving feast or a raucous Friendsgiving, there are a lot of details that have to be accounted for. Lucky for you, we’ve created the ultimate Thanksgiving timeline for you to make sure not one crumb of Paleo stuffing gets forgotten.
Your Timeline to Hosting Turkey Day
2-3 Weeks Before
Plan the Event: Details are the foundation of any event, so take time to plan it out now. Where will people sit? Where will the food be set up? Will you have a buffet or serve your meal family-style?
Take Inventory: Now is the time to take a kitchen-wide inventory so you know what you have and what you don’t. This leaves enough time to supply shop before the big day, eliminating any last-minute food panic attacks.
Confirm the Guest List: To properly plan your menu, you need to know how many guests are coming. Make sure to note any children, plus ones, and even pets so everyone is accounted for!
Menu Planning: Thanksgiving means tradition, so stick to the favorites like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and a classic dessert. Feeling festive? Create a Thanksgiving-themed signature cocktail. Want to break tradition with a unique dish? Go for it, but stick to one so you don’t get overwhelmed. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, but be specific – no one needs four green bean casseroles.
Need some inspiration? Check out our “Thanksgiving Pinterest” board.
Order the Turkey: Order your turkey 2-3 weeks before Thanksgiving. You will need ¾ of a pound to one pound per guest. If you already have your turkey, remember to allow enough time for it to thaw: Allow 1 day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey. Place any other food orders at this time as well: appetizers, side dishes, pies, etc. Do it early so you don’t forget!
While turkey is certainly a great go-to for Thanksgiving, it’s not the only protein worthy of center stage. Bring a new tradition to your Thanksgiving table this year by serving a bison sirloin roast . After all, bison is our Nation Mammal!
1 Week Before Thanksgiving
Set the Table: Create festive place cards to avoid seating confusion. Need some seating tips? Place yourself close to the kitchen so you can quickly refill the bread basket. Set up a kids table for children or place them between their parents so everyone is well behaved. Have some family or friends that are left-handed? Place them at the corners of the table so they have more elbow room to eat.
Grocery Shop: Divide your grocery list into perishable and nonperishable items to make shopping faster. Don’t forget to pick up any orders you placed earlier in the month.
Start Cooking: Many Thanksgiving dishes can be made ahead of time. Gravies can be frozen, vegetable dishes can be stored in the refrigerator two days in advance, and other dishes can at least be prepped. Serving mashed potatoes? Wash and peel the potatoes now to save you some time on Thanksgiving Day.
Wake up Early: There’s no sleeping in on Thanksgiving, especially when you are hosting! Wake up early and stick to your schedule! Leave at least one hour of cushion-time so you aren’t frantic at the end.
Keep Sides Warm: Whether you use the microwave as an insulator (just don’t turn it on) or have buffet-style dishes with warmers, keep your delicious dishes warm until you’re ready to eat.
Roast the Turkey: Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of your turkey. Test in three spots: the breast, the thigh, and the stuffing. Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, but don’t touch the bone, and check the very center of the turkey breast and the stuffing. Here is a turkey temperature chart to ensure your turkey is cooked to perfection.
Thanksgiving Tip: If something goes wrong, don’t panic. Consult these turkey tips or call one of these helpful hotlines.
Have Fun! Thanksgiving is all about being thankful, so whether the day goes perfectly or there are some hiccups along the way, remember what this day is all about!
Need more Thanksgiving “How Tos?” Check out these tips from Food Network.