My family takes Thanksgiving very seriously (aka my mother and I take it seriously and my family is along for the ride). Every year the guest list fluctuates, and I think some of the especially well attended years have really helped us lock down our process. We usually host out-of-towners (myself included) so hosting Thanksgiving means the Thursday meal, plus all the other meals that weekend, plus accommodations. The general plan is as follows (eye candy from Crate and Barrel):
Three Weeks Out
Pull together the guest list, and check in with any family or friends who are on the fence. It doesn’t have to be finalized but starting the conversation will help the planning process.
Scour Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and West Elm, etc. for Thanksgiving tablescape inspiration. This year I’m thinking a natural and/or metallic table runner (the walls of my parent’s dining room are metallic gold), with large hurricane candle holders and natural colored pillar candles. Plus some extra votives and fall flowers or branches. I try to repurpose things we have as much as possible, with a couple new items from Target on occasion.
Two Weeks Out
Start the list making! I pull together an Excel spreadsheet that has a few different lists:
- Thanksgiving menu and family member responsibilities (everyone gets at least one item)
- Make ahead items verse day of dishes
- Groceries needed for Thanksgiving meal
- Meal plan for the rest of the meals from Wednesday dinner through Saturday (especially if guests are staying a few days)
- Groceries for the non-Thanksgiving meals
Take an inventory of plates, utensils, and table linens to make sure you have the correct amount. This gives us time to get everything clean and polished for the big day.
One Week Out
Grocery shop for all non-perishables on your list, because you best believe there will be no cans of pumpkin left on the shelves on Wednesday! And if you can’t find something, you have time to check a couple more stores before the big day. Pick up perishables and the turkey as early as makes sense. Do not forget the turkey!
Get going on the turkey prep if you’re not already defrosting.
Make all of your make ahead items. For us that includes the cranberry sauce, some mis en place, one or two pies (Mom makes three), one or two flavors of ice cream (Mom makes two or three), and any extra baked goods for the weekend such as cookies and pumpkin bread.
Buy flowers for the table and the house, and set the table. We try to use a local florist, but sometimes Whole Foods is a better bet on busy holidays. Make sure you have your game face on if you brave Whole Foods on Wednesday!
Set the table.
Game time! Get the turkey in the oven, and make the rest of the dessert items in the morning. Let everyone know what their assignments are, and start knocking out the side dishes! Some things will go smoothly and some will inevitably not go smoothly. That’s what makes for good stories for years to come!
Are you ready for Turkey Day?