Get It Done with Our Thanksgiving Checklistby Michael Wards
Happy Halloween! Today is the day to dress in costume, take your kids trick or treating and end the night with a well-deserved cocktail. (I recommend this Halloween Pumpkin Punch with spiced rum!) By tomorrow, it’s time to start ticking boxes on your Thanksgiving Checklist!
For anyone who’s hosted a Thanksgiving dinner, you know that it isn’t easy—and you can’t put it together at the last minute. This a food-centric holiday that requires advance planning, and it’s never too early to start.
4 weeks ahead (that would be now):
- Finalize Your Guest List: Call friends and family or follow up with them. You’ll need to know approximately how many people you can expect as soon as possible.
- Plan the Menu: Create a list of all the appetizers, sides and desserts you’ll want to serve. Include drinks, such as wine, beer, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Print or Bookmark Recipes: After you plan the menu, earmark your recipes. This will help you plan your shopping list.
3 Weeks Ahead:
- Create A Shopping List: Look at all of your recipes and decide how much of each ingredient you’ll need to feed all of your guests.
- Source The Turkey: Whether you’re buying the turkey at a farm or grocery store, get your order in now to ensure you secure the best quality bird.
- Place Online Orders: If you have to buy extra place settings, décor or special cooking equipment, order or purchase that from now.
2 Weeks Ahead:
- Make Room: Clean out your fridge, freezer and pantry, so you’ll have space for the turkey and all the items you’ll prepare in advance.
- Start Shopping: Buy ingredients for the foods you’ll cook this week. For example, you can prepare pie crusts, homemade stock and rolls, and keep them in the freezer.
- Get Cooking: Begin your first round of cooking, and freeze foods in airtight containers. Be sure to label each item.
1 Week Ahead
- Shop for Non-Perishables: Buy items for any recipes you plan to cook and freeze this week. Also, finish shopping for all non-perishables, such as canned goods, frozen veggies, paper towels and beverages.
- Pick up Tom: If you ordered a turkey, make sure you pick it up. If it’s frozen, just remember it’ll take a few days to defrost and brine it.
- Set the Table: Get the table set from now. Make it look festive with gourds, cloth napkins and tapered candles.
The Week of
- Buy Perishables: Shop for fresh foods about 3-4 days in advance.
- Finish Cooking: Defrost crusts and assemble pies. Blanch vegetables, boil potatoes, arrange appetizer platters and keeping plugging away at your recipes. On the big day, stuff and roast the turkey, toss salads and reheat all your pre-made dishes. (The last-minute details will depend on your menu.)
- Enjoy the Holiday: After all your hard work, it’s time to sit and eat. And remember to toast to the host!
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