Thanksgiving Dinner Holiday Checklist

The time is now to mull over the Thanksgiving dinner holiday checklist.

This most wonderful time of year that should be embraced for what it is- a time to eat, drink, decorate, table set, and celebrate with family and friends.


From kitchen to turkey to table, the more Thanksgiving dinner holiday checklist help I can offer, the merrier and less holiday rushed things will be.

A holiday checklist comes in holiday handy, and is the hostess gift that keeps on giving.

And away we holiday go…

3 weeks to go:

I’m sure to some extent you’ve been in recipe and menu planning mode already.

There’s no time like three weeks out from Thanksgiving to decide which recipes you want to make.

Narrow down what dishes you can realistically pull off without having a culinary nervous breakdown.

Adopt an out with the old to make room for the new.  Clean out accordingly in order to make room for grocery items coming to a refrigerator, freezer, and pantry near you.

Begin picking up non-perishable items, spices needed, dry goods, and any kitchen tools or cookware while shopping.

Grocery ads are beginning to look a lot like Thanksgiving dinner sales, and kitchen items are popping up on sale as well.

2 weeks to go:

Creating a handsome holiday table and finalizing the scrumptious dishes worthy of c’est si bon distinction is the objective.

Plan, tweak, adjust, set, and finalize the menu and the tablescape.


Delegate and Dish

Don’t be a holiday hosting hero.

Say yes to the offers of what can I do-what can I bring.

Make a list of who’s bringing what, and thoughtfully delegate and dish from there.


Take an inventory of the pantry staples, spices, seasonings, and required recipe ingredients you will need.

Make out your grocery list.

Bookmark store ads and coupons on your mobile device.

1 week to go:

Add the finishing touches to your selected tablescape theme.


Better Homes & Gardens

Stake out the vases, rose bowls, trays, dough bowl, or clear glass jars you’ll be using for centerpieces and spot arrangements.

Take a count of the number of candles you will need.

herbal-essenceGood Housekeeping

If you will be using new or on hand LED candles, make sure you’ve got plenty of batteries.

Take inventory of table linens, cocktail napkins, china, glassware, flatware, and serving pieces.

intimate-affair-tableModern Thanksgiving Tablescape

I’ve been known to replace chandelier and table lamp light bulbs to mitigate any whatever can go wrong, will go wrong-Murphy’s law proactive holiday hostess issues.

Salento 6-light Chandelier



Go to the grocery store for the turkey and non-perishable food items..


When deciding on how big of a turkey to purchase, allow 1 to 2 pounds of meat per person

Make sure your roasting pan is large enough to fit turkey.

If you don’t already have one, now is the time to purchase a meat thermometer to help take the guesswork out of when the bird is done.

Let the dessert planning begin!


What’s for dessert?


Store bought?

Easy hacks to take a cake or pie from store bought to homemade include a generous drizzle of caramel ice cream topping over a Dutch apple pie.

Top a pumpkin pie with mini marshmallows, sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, and bake off in the oven until marshmallows melt.

Spike up the taste of a pecan pie by topping with bourbon whipped cream.

Bourbon Whipped Cream


1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 Tablespoon bourbon

2 teaspoons maple syrup


In a medium bowl, add whipping cream.  Beat on medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.  Add bourbon and maple syrup, and beat until stiff peaks form.   Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

five-pie-slices-platesBetter Homes & Gardens

Select serving pieces.

Perhaps it’s time for a new cake plate or tiered tray to add to this year’s holiday finery.


The Pioneer Woman Timeless Beauty Mint Green Cake Stand with Glass Cover

Plan the beverage menu and stock the bar.


5 days to go:

Prep dishes, flatware and stemware.


Take a chair inventory.


Aunt Myrtle’s disco decor days have gone the way of avocado green appliances, wall-to-wall shag carpet, and the Merry Mushroom dinnerware straight out of the housewares department at the local Sears.

Her get down tonight may not be able to get up today if she is forced to sit in the bean bag chair from the kids playroom.

Know your audience, friends.

Buy, borrow, or rent the extra items to meet your holiday hosting needs.


Antique Silver Sentiment Salt and Pepper Shakers

Fill salt and pepper shakers, sugar bowl and artificial sweetener dish.


3 days to go:

Remove turkey from freezer and place in refrigerator to begin the thawing process.


For Refrigerator Thawing:

Place turkey on a tray to eliminate leakage to other areas of refrigerator.

Thaw breast side up, in original unopened wrapper on a tray in the fridge (40 degrees F or below).

Allow at least 1 day of thawing for every 4-5 lbs.

Suggested thawing time for a frozen turkey:

4 to 12 pound turkey:           1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pound turkey:         3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pound turkey:        4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pound turkey:        5 to 6 days

Cold Water Thawing:

Thaw breast side down, in original unopened wrapper.

Cover the turkey completely with cold water.  Change the water every 30 minutes.

Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per pound.

4 to 12 pound turkey:        2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pound turkey:      6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pound turkey:     8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pound turkey:     10 to 12 hours


Southern Living

Company’s coming!

Curb appeal doesn’t take a holiday.

Lawn and garden for your holiday gathering by cutting, edging, clipping, blowing, and prettying up the porch, walkway, patio, etc…

Clean house accordingly.

Round Kaboo Basket LargeRound Ratan Basket Large

Helpful hint:

Decorative baskets and storage cubes come in mighty handy as a stylish storage solution.

So do closets.

Let’s keep it real here, folks- time and tidiness is not always on our side.

Open up a closet (or two), throw the stuff in it, and come back another day and redistribute.

2 days to go:

Transfer the frozen items prepared in advance, baked goods, and pie dough/crusts from the freezer to the refrigerator.

Take inventory of holiday hospitality guest room essentials.

Clean and stock guest bedrooms and bathrooms with fresh linens and paper goods.


You know that lightly damp dishtowel left over from last night’s KP duty?

On your way to the laundry room with it, hit the holiday table and chairs dusting high notes.

Two tasks taken care of with one swipe.


Set out candles, arrange centerpiece, set table with linens, place mats, chargers and place cards.


1 day to go:

Peel and chop up onions, bell pepper, garlic, herbs, and root vegetables. Place  in plastic storage bags or airtight containers and store in the refrigerator.

root vegetables House & Garden

House & Garden – Photography by Andrew Montgomery

Make cornbread for dressing.


Let the dessert baking begin!

Cakes really do taste better the next day.


All the flavors and spices get in there and do their thing, bringing forth the next day flavor c’est si bon.


Set out hand soaps or refill dispensers and place a new roll(s) of paper towels in the holder(s).

When it comes to paper towels in the holiday kitchen, the more the merrier rule of spills and splatters applies.

Life and the holiday kitchen is messy.

Grab a paper towel and clean it up.

Paul Massey blue white dining room

House & Garden

Set out dinnerware, glasses, serving pieces, dishes, bowls and platters.

Turn over or cover with dishtowels until next day.

The Big Event!

Preheat oven.

Take turkey out of refrigerator, season to taste, and place in roaster.

Approximate roasting time for a thoroughly defrosted 12-14 lb. unstuffed turkey is  3-3 ½ hours roasted at  325°F until done.


About a half hour before the turkey’s finished, take it out of the oven.



The turkey is done when the temperature with a meat thermometer reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F in the breast and 175°F in the thickest part of the thigh.


Allow the turkey to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to saturate the meat evenly.


Chill beverages.


Prepare other side dishes, salads, and desserts while turkey is roasting.

Sweet-Potato-roast-recipeCrispy Sweet Potato Roast

Prep coffee maker for after dinner coffee.

Take a deep breath.

Remember to enjoy the beauty, food, fellowship and fruits of your holiday labor of love!

Love your style!

Show & Tell

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