1 Month Before: Finalize Guest List
If you’ve decided to host Thanksgiving this year, now is the time to finalize your guest list. Think about how many people you can accommodate at your table for a sit-down dinner or keep things more casual and invite more guests if you’re serving buffet style. There’s no need for formal invitations; a phone call or email to friends and family is sufficient. This is the time to ask about dietary preferences and if your great-aunt makes an awesome stuffing that she’d like to bring. This will help you figure out your menu later on.
Ted’s Tips for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving
1 Month Before: Plan Your Menu
Pick your favorite turkey recipe today and then plan additional dishes around the bird. If you’re more a fan of side dishes, start with your favorite recipes and build from there. Think about family favorites and Thanksgiving classics to start, then add in a few new dishes. Be sure to also think about drink options and simple bites to serve as guests arrive.
Browse Our Best Menus
3 Weeks Before: Get Your Gear
With plenty of time to hit the stores, now is the time to shop for tools you’ll need for the big day. Think about what you needed last year that you didn’t have or upgrade some of your current tools to help ease the cooking process.
Essential Thanksgiving Cooking Tools
3 Weeks Before: Create a Shopping List
With a little over 3 weeks to go, you can start to organize your shopping list. You should have a good idea by now of who will be coming, so take a look at each recipe and decide how much of each dish you’ll need. If guests are bringing dishes, make sure they’re in the loop about how many people are attending. If you’re cooking solo, pick easier, big-batch recipes to make the day less stressful. Once you go through each recipe, create a shopping list of all the ingredients you’ll need and compare it against the pantry items you already have on hand. Finalize the list so you can order hard-to-find ingredients online.
Dinner Portion Planner
3 Weeks Before: Order a Turkey
With your menu set and guest list finalized, order your turkey. Assume 2 pounds per adult and 1 pound per child (to guarantee leftovers). If you’re ordering a specialty bird, those can sell out pretty early in November. If you’re getting a turkey from the supermarket, it always helps to be prepared and order ahead. If you’re buying a frozen turkey, you have time — just don’t wait until the last minute.
Turkey Buying Guide
3 Weeks Before: Shop for Drinks
Wine and liquor keep well, so buy the items you need early. You probably won’t want to serve as bartender on the big day, so pick a signature drink that you can make a big batch of before guests arrive or set a bar with all of the basics and let guests help themselves. Plan on each guest drinking two drinks in the first hour, and one drink for every hour thereafter. You know your guests better than we do, so treat that as an estimate. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a nonalcoholic option on hand, like apple cider or sparkling water.
Thanksgiving Wine Pairings
2 Weeks Before: Clean Out Your Freezer
Cooking and freezing as much as possible now will save you time on turkey day. Clean out your freezer to make room for everything you’ll be putting in.
Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes
2 Weeks Before: Make and Freeze Pie Dough, or an Entire Apple Pie
Make a few batches of pie dough now and freeze them; wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before you’re ready to use them — most pies can be made the day before Thanksgiving. Ina’s showstopping apple pie can be fully prepared and frozen up to a month in advance. After assembling, put the entire pie — greased tin and all — into a loose-fitting plastic bag and seal tightly. Transfer it to the refrigerator the night before baking to thaw, and the next day you’ll have a fresh, juicy apple pie on your table in about an hour.
Ina’s Perfect Pie Crust
Ina’s Deep-Dish Apple Pie