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Smart Prep Tips To Have The Best Thanksgiving Ever

Don't get overwhelmed by the holidays! Our Thanksgiving prep tips will help you break the work down into manageable pieces so you can get ahead of the game and host the best meal ever!

Will you be hosting the Thanksgiving feast this year? Of course, the very idea can be stressful to even think about. Farmers’ Almanac to the rescue! Our Thanksgiving prep tips will help you get ahead of the game so you can host a holiday meal that will be as smooth as your prized mashed potatoes!

Thanksgiving To Do List

2-3 Weeks Before Thanksgiving …

Menu planning Thanksgiving.
  1. Plan your menu and guest list.
  2. Pull out the recipes and make a list of the ingredients you need to purchase.
  3. Shop for the ingredients that can be stored in the pantry, refrigerator or freezer in advance: spices, nuts, butter, flour, sugar, eggs, fresh cranberries, sausage, turkey, canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, etc.
  4. Call family members and assign casseroles or foods for them to bring.
  5. Bake desserts that freeze well: cookies and pies, cobblers, and bread puddings, and store in the freezer.

2 Weeks Ahead …

Homemade Freshly baked soft Dinner Rolls, selective focus.
  1. Make your favorite dinner or yeast rolls and store in the freezer.
  2. Select tablecloth, napkins, and decorations for your Thanksgiving table.
  3. Wash and press table linens and set aside.

1 Week Ahead …

Thanksgiving pumpkin and apple various pies, top view, copy space. Fall traditional homemade apple and pumpkin pie for autumn holiday..
  1. Buy fresh ingredients needed.
  2. Call guests to remind them of dinnertime and foods to bring.
  3. Determine if extra seating or additional tables are needed for serving and placement.
  4. Vacuum and dust the house (you’ll need to do this again, day of!).
  5. Set candles and decorations in place.
  6. Make turkey dressing/stuffing and freeze. Otherwise, do the day of.
  7. Bake pies.
  8. Thaw turkey in fridge – a week or more, depending on size.

3 Days Ahead

  1. Purchase any last-minute shopping items.

Day Before Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving - Stock photography
  1. Make a checklist of things to do each day prior to Thanksgiving.
  2. Print menu and put it on the fridge so you won’t forget to remove the cider or desserts from the freezer.
  3. If you’re having your Thanksgiving dinner early in the day, consider baking the bird a day ahead, carving the meat and storing it in the refrigerator in chicken broth to keep moist. Reheat in the oven before serving on a platter.
  4. Remove desserts, dressing, and bread from the freezer.
  5. Make the fresh cranberry sauce.
  6. Assemble casseroles, and bake on Thanksgiving.
  7. Set the table if possible.
  8. Do another round of dusting and vacuuming (enlist the kids!)

Planning ahead reduces the stress of holiday entertaining and gives the hostess the opportunity to count her blessings while enjoying a relaxing day with loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving!

Check our Thanksgiving forecast!

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Deborah Tukua

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

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Great list. I would highly recommend NOT waiting until the day before Thanksgiving to thaw a large turkey. Check the label you will find with larger turkeys that the thaw time in the fridge is more likely 2-3 days. With smaller gatherings 1 day may be sufficient for a smaller bird. Likely you are hosting, some things to consider; be certain a couple days ahead of Thanksgiving all your stemware, crystal and cookware are clean and ready to go. We share our menu with the attendees via email, so everyone has a quick reference of what to bring, the menu and the meal time. Our to do list of daily activity generally starts at the “two week before” mark instead of waiting until the day of.

Susan Higgins

Mark, you are correct! We have made adjustments to the list. Our apologies! And thanks for sharing your best practices. Happy Thanksgiving!


thank you for the great ideas. it is all about being thankful and sharing, isn’t it.


Since we don’t live near family, we get together with some dear friends every year. We have a deal where whom ever hosts bakes the turkey, does the potatoes, gravy and stuffing. The other family brings every thing else. Then we switch houses every year. Huge time and stress saver and we get to share recipes (which is always a bonus). We love it! Happy Thanksgiving guys!

Barbara Galowitch

I make the meal, do the decorating, and set a formal table. I have my guests bring their choice of dessert/appetizers. I have found people want to help & this a good way for them to feel they have contributed. It also allows me to focus on the meal. This year I will be seating 18. Three tables in dining room and all the people I hold dearest. I can’t wait!!! So much fun!!!


Thanks. Good ideas.

Ms' Barbara

I do all of the cooking for our family Thanksgiving dinner. To make buying groceries easy I buy stuff thourgh out the year, meal and flour go in the freezer. Buying during the year when it’s on sale really helps. I have 3 fridges with freezer plus 1 freezer.


Thank you for the time put into this information ,it was very helpful.

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