We’re doing it! Talking the Thanksgiving timeline today. We’ve got two weeks!
After mentioning this on Tuesday Things this past week, you guys got so excited and I knew I had to share ASAP. I wanted to put it in my holiday entertaining guide but I didn’t get a chance to write it up before that was created, so here we are.
I LOVE things like this. The crazy wacky organization that it takes to host a party and especially one like Thanksgiving is intense. You can be an awesome cook and love to have dinner parties, but the timeline of having all those traditional dishes ready for Thanksgiving? It’s a struggle.
Except it doesn’t have to be! It just sounds like a struggle.
I don’t always follow this to a T exactly, but having it in front of my face and having a plan makes me feel less overwhelmed and anxious about the undertaking of such a big meal. I never used to be such a serious planner about things like this, but now that I have kids, I have to be. This allows me to feel SO much less stressed about the day. Because I really love the day! Here we go.
My 2018 Menu
- Butter and Wine Drenched Turkey, with this dry brine
- Classic Stuffing (in and out of the bird)
- Mashed Potatoes
- Thanksgiving Salad
- Brussels Gratin (recipe is coming in a few days! you’ll freak.)
- A side dish of corn (so easy)
- Vanilla Bourbon Cranberry Sauce
- Lightened Up Sweet Potato Casserole
- Pumpkin Fudge Brownies
- Red Apple Cider Sangria
- Thanksgiving Cheese Board
Guest are bringing:
- Green Bean Casserole
- Pumpkin Pie/Desserts
- Apps and Snacks
- Dinner rolls
The month before (or, um, right now):
- I determine who is coming and how many people I’ll have for dinner.
- I figure out the menu! What exactly I’m serving, buying and what are others bringing.
- I go through every.single.recipe and write down the ingredients. I take inventory of what I have. From there, I build a grocery list around what I need.
- I go through all of the serving dishes, place settings, glasses and everything I’ll need. This is personal preference but I love to use real dishes and set the table for Thanksgiving. It’s probably because my mom and grandma always did. I think it just makes for such a nice meal and it also allows people to linger at the table for conversation after!
- I also go through all of my cookware. Do I have the turkey roaster, kitchen twine, baster, enough pots, baking dishes, etc.
- I make a master list, based on all of the above, on EVERYTHING I will need.
- I order a fresh turkey.
- You can order florals if you wish. I learned this the hard way two years ago when I spent $100 upfront ordering one that looked like it belonged in a funeral home. I ended up buying my own flowers and making my own, so I don’t order any.
- I buy as much as I can right now. This includes wine, pantry ingredients, things like crackers for the appetizers, foil containers or packaging for people to take home leftovers – EVERYTHING. And I check it off the list!
Two weeks before:
- I take some inventory of the fridge and figure out what we can eat/cook to free up space.
- I pick up any pantry ingredients or items I couldn’t get in the weeks prior.
The week before:
- I do a massive fridge clean. I clean the entire fridge, get rid of what I don’t need, make room for the turkey, the dishes I’ll make ahead of time, etc.
- I go over my master list again and see what else I may need.
- I grocery shop for the things that are fresh but will last until Thursday, such as milk, potatoes, squash, etc.
- I also think about next weekend and a lunch and dinner plan right now. I know that at some point we will be sick of leftovers and won’t want to eat out every single meal (and will want something light!) so I try to plan a light meal or two and have some things on hand for easy lunches and dinners during the long weekend.
- Any miscellaneous house things and regular life things that must get done to live. Ha!
- I go over my list again. DO I HAVE EVERYTHING? Probably not. I always forget things. Always.
- I clean out my dining room and set the table. I set up my own centerpiece space – or at least as much of it as I can. I also like to set out all of my serving and baking dishes with post-it’s of what will go inside.
- I do one final grocery shop. Grabbing anything else I may need.
- I pick up the turkey.
- I prep my dry brine and prep my turkey, get it all together and stick it in the fridge. Let the magic happen.
- Our house is getting cleaned – amen.
- I’m making the lightened up sweet potato casserole. I don’t bake it yet. I measure out the topping ingredients and set them aside for tomorrow. I’ve done this for 6 years and it works great! This is a great travel dish.
- I’m also making the cranberry sauce, the pumpkin fudge brownies (bake completely and keep in the fridge until Thursday) and prepping the bread and veggies for the stuffing. I leave the bread in baking dishes and sauté the vegetables, then stick them in jars in the fridge.
- I also chop and measure ingredients out for the brussels gratin. Same goes for the salad – wash and chop everything!
- I also slice cheese and prep ingredients for the cheese board, putting olives in bowls and covering them to store in the fridge, as well as placing nuts in bowls and covering them to sit at room temperature.
- Before I go to sleep, I make sure that the kitchen is clean and the dishwasher is running!
- Turkey comes out of the fridge to take the chill off.
- I peel the potatoes and place them in a pot of cold water in the fridge.
- Prep the cheesecloth, butter/wine mixture for the turkey.
- Turkey is stuffed, legs trussed, ready to go.
- Turkey goes into the oven! A 15lb turkey using this recipe takes about 4 hours. I’m giving myself more time for a slightly larger turkey. I set an alarm on my phone so I know when to baste the turkey.
- I run the dishwasher again if needed, only so I can have a completely empty dishwasher after dinner!.
- I make the sangria and keep it in the fridge. Also make sure coffee and dessert space is prepped!
- This is probably when I will shower and get ready myself.
- I prep the mashed potatoes.
- I also prep the brussels gratin!
- Prep the corn.
- I take other dishes out of the fridge that have to be heated soon, like the sweet potatoes and the cranberry sauce.
- Then I clean up the mess that I probably made.
- It’s cheese board time. I just set it all out along with any other snacks.
- Take the turkey temperature. GUESTS come!
- We eat and snack and chat.
- Turkey is out of the oven. Side dishes that have to be warmed/baked go into the oven. I start making the gravy. I love the gravy fresh with the turkey drippings. I follow my exact recipe! It’s worth it, trust me.
- I throw together the salad quickly. Everything is measured, washed and chopped so it takes a few minutes!
- Eddie carves the turkey!
- Fill up water and wine glasses, sides come out of the oven, everything is set out and arranged for serving.
6PM: Give thanks and EAT.
While writing it all out makes me seem like a lunatic, I do SO much prep ahead of time that the day is enjoyable. It’s not stressful and I actually love it and get to enjoy it. While there are tasks spread throughout Thanksgiving day, it’s not intense go-go-go because I do lots of prep ahead.
SO now I’m dying to know! What is your plan?
And P.S. I created a printable version for you because I LOVE YOU. xoxo