by Jenni Barnett
on Monday, November 9th, 2020 at 12:38pm.
Congratulations on hosting Thanksgiving dinner! Whether it’s your first time or your annual tradition to host, it can be a feat like no other to pull off getting a large and complex meal on the table for friends and family to share! Thanks to the grand aspect of this annual meal, prepping isn’t just a “nice to have”, it’s a true necessity! Our mouths are watering just thinking about the feast to come - cheers!
Create Your Guest List
Think about whether or not you want a sit-down meal or a more casual meal where more people can be accommodated throughout the house - then, invite away! Not only will creating your guest list allow you to make sure your guests know they’re invited and mark their calendars - but you’ll know what size turkey to get! This will also allow you to know if someone’s bringing their famous Pumpkin pie or legendary stuffing to add to the menu (and cross of your own list)!
Do you have enough serving dishes? Did you get rid of your old pie pans? Now is the time to check and see if you have everything you need - the last thing you’ll want to be doing when it gets closer to the date is running around looking for something that is suddenly sold out! On another note, don’t forget to check for any linens or table-top needs.
Order Your Turkey
No need to stress about finding the right size turkey when the rest of the country is in a rush to do the same thing. Order ahead so that you have the exact size and type and from the exact place that you want. One large item off your list!
Make Your Pie Dough
If homemade pies are on your menu (we bet they are) and you are wanting to make the crusts from scratch, go ahead and do it! All you have to do is seal them flat in a large freezer bag for a “homemade frozen crust” that you’ll be able to thaw right when needed. (Tip: Fruit pies can be frozen in full, so if you’re feeling really ambitious go ahead and make and freeze apple or cherry pies in addition to the crusts!)
TWO WEEKS OUT:
Turkey Stock, Gravy, & Rolls
Even if you don’t have your menu completely set yet, you will most likely be having sides that include turkey stock, and gravy. Both freeze well in quart containers that you can pull as needed! As another time-saver, choose a roll recipe with lots of butter and moisture that will freeze well and be able to thaw the day of.
Clean Out Freezer
While you’re already at it with the “cook and freeze” method of preparing for the big meal, clean out your freezer as much as possible. And hey, this might mean you aren’t cooking for a few nights while you pull things out of the freezer for dinners to make room!
Check “Drinks” Off Your List
It’s no fun playing bartender while at the same time orchestrating a Thanksgiving meal - so if you want cocktails to be aplenty choose something that can be made in a large batch that guests can serve themselves from, along with some beer and wine options.
WEEKEND BEFORE THANKSGIVING:
Finalize Menu & Grocery List
Decide exactly what you’ll be serving (don’t forget to note what others are bringing, as well) and collect the exact recipes you’ll be using. From there, write down everything you’ll need at the grocery store and shop away!
If your turkey is frozen, go ahead and save yourself the last-minute stress and start thawing now! It takes a day for every four pounds.
TUESDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING:
Last Minute Errands
If you special ordered a turkey (or pies!) now is the time to run and pick it up. Anything else you realized you forgot on your list? Now is the time!
Anything and everything you pre-prepped and put in your freezer, now is the time to move it to the fridge.
Place any wine you got that needs to be chilled in the fridge or in a cool place like the garage.
Start the Stuffing
For stuffing, bread needs time to get stale, so go ahead and get your bread out on the counter while there is still time!
DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING:
Chop & Prep
To save (much) time on the day of, chop and prep all your ingredients and store in air-tight bags. Potatoes can be washed, peeled, and stored in cold water in the fridge. For some dishes that just need to be popped in the oven, you can even put the ingredients together in their final dishes, cover with foil, and pop in when needed.
At this point, your fruit pies if made before should be thawing in the fridge and custard-based pies can now be made. In fact, it’s much better to make a Pumpkin pie the day before for the center (and flavors!) to set.
Set the Scene
For a little wind down before the big day begins, end your Thanksgiving eve by setting up as much as the table and/or serving station as possible. Your future self will thank you!
As with any and all things turkey-related, start early! Calculate how long your bird needs to cook and be prepared to start early, especially if you have a mid-day meal.
Finish the Sides
Hopefully by this time you’re dumping ingredients together and finishing them off in the oven!
Remember to Celebrate
Don’t forget to look around and take in all the good food and company! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and soak in the holiday. Congrats on hosting a wonderful Thanksgiving meal!