A Thanksgiving Cooking Checklist

By now you should have your Thanksgiving plans made.  Are you hosting?  If you are, you need to start planning now.

What you need to do now!

  • Put together your meal plan. If you don’t have a meal plan in place, I have you covered and have put a Thanksgiving meal plan together for you.  Ensure that your meal plan will work.  Do you have enough space in your oven for more than one item? Do you need multiple stove-top burners at the same time?  You may need to tweak your menu accordingly.
  • Confirm your guest list.
  • Order or purchase your turkey.  If you have a smaller oven, make sure the turkey is going to fit.
  • Order flowers if you don’t want to risk there being very little to choose from the day before.
  • Check your seating.  Do you need to rent or borrow a table and chairs?

4-7 days before.

  • Put your turkey in the refrigerator to begin defrosting – depending on the size you will need 3-5 days for thawing.
  • Write your grocery list.
  • Check your supplies – roasting pan, baking dishes, dinner plates, cutlery, linens, serving-ware,  and stemware.  If there is anything you need, now is the time to borrow or buy.  Don’t forget to check your salt and pepper shakers. Cross-check your list with your menu.
  • Plan how you are going to decorate.  Purchase, borrow, or make whatever you need.
  • Make a cooking schedule for Thanksgiving day.
  • Clean out your refrigerator and freezer.
  • Prepare a list of activities to occupy your children on Thanksgiving day.

3 days before.

  • Shop for your non-perishable items
  • Time to clean.  If you have more than 1 bathroom, close the door to the guest bathroom once it is clean and make it an ‘out of bounds’ area until your Thanksgiving guests arrive.
  • Replace light-bulbs that are not working.
  • Iron the linens if you plan on using cloth napkins and a tablecloth.



2 days before.

  • Decorate.  Set candles out where you want them.  Hang any other decorations.  Just don’t set the table today.
  • Ensure all of the serving dishes, plates, cutlery, and stemware are clean.

The day before.

  • Shop for perishable items, for example fresh fruit, veggies, and fresh flowers.
  • Set the table.
  • If serving white wine and/or apple cider ensure these are refrigerated now.
  • Prepare any dishes that you can.  For example, peel potatoes and leave them in a bowl of water in the refrigerator.  Make the cranberry sauce, and bake biscuits and pies.  Can you make the appetizers today too?

Thanksgiving day.

Today, you should be prepared.  You  have a cooking schedule, your table is decorated, and your food shopping is done.

  • Prepare dishes according to your schedule.
  • Don’t forget to take care of you.  Shower, dress, and get the kids ready.
  • Add any final touches to the table.
  • Stay on top of dishes throughout the day.
  • Sweep off the front walkway.
  • Delegate as many tasks as you can to your kids – such as sweeping, and tidying up.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

About Tonya Staab

Tonya Staab is a freelance writer and the creative mind behind Create-Celebrate-Explore, a lifestyle blog that inspires parents to craft, cook, travel, and celebrate every day with their children.

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