The aromas of roasting turkey and fresh-baked pie, the sounds of laughter and chatter and football: It’s the quintessential family celebration, and nostalgia rules the day. Now that you’ve taken on holiday hosting duties, it’s time to make a plan. Most everyone expects their familiar favorites on the table, but you want the Thanksgiving meal to have your personal spin, too. This handy guide will help you walk that line, get everything ready on time, and still have a chance to sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the spoils of your labor.
Finalize your menu a couple of weeks ahead, then make a schedule using our handy guide. Want to stay cool as head cook? Make “get it done early” your mantra.
A week or more ahead, you can:
- Bake cupcakes and freeze them, unfrosted and tightly covered.
- Make pie dough, flatten it into disks and wrap them well, then freeze.
Three days ahead, you can:
- Start thawing your turkey, if it’s frozen. See our Poultry Thawing Chart as a guide.
- Make spiced nuts and store them in an airtight container.
- Make cranberry sauce and refrigerate.
The day before, you can:
- Peel, prep and chop all veggies, except potatoes; store veggies in resealable bags in the refrigerator.
- Thaw pie crust and bake pies. Refrigerate pumpkin and pecan pies; cover the apple pie and store it at room temperature.
- Remove cupcakes from the freezer to thaw; frost them and store them in the refrigerator.
- Bake cheese straw twists and store them in an airtight container.
The morning of, you can:
- Prep your turkey and stuffing and get them in the oven.
- Get the spiced cider started in the slow cooker.
- Make dough and form cloverleaf rolls; let them rise (bake later, as the turkey rests).
About an hour before, you can:
- Finish preparing and bake the sweet potato casserole.
- Finish preparing and bake the green beans with leeks.
- Reheat the mashed potatoes you prepared the day before.
Just before serving, you can:
- Finish preparing the confetti succotash.
- Make gravy.
- Mix up the kids’ punch.
- Carve the turkey.