The More Done Ahead, the Merrier (4 Days Away)

Related To:

Less than a week to go to Turkey Day and it's time to hammer out the details. If your family vetoed your idea for an innovative reimagining of pumpkin pie, channel your creativity into designing a table centerpiece to set the mood. Also, consider four days ahead as a good time for a freezer exchange — frozen turkey (if you bought it that way) should come out, homemade pie crusts go in.

• Setting the Stage: While the food and the company always make Thanksgiving memorable, it doesn't hurt to have a beautifully set table to sit around. Consider mixing flowers in with some artful edibles or even scout your backyard for inspiration. We like gourds, mini pumpkins, acorns, pine-cones and Indian corn to give the table a real fall feel. Gather everything you'll need for the table (except the flowers), and stock up on candles for an extra-special touch.

• Everything in Its Place: Whether your Thanksgiving is a big family reunion or a get-together of disparate friends, making place cards relieves some of the "where-should-we-all-sit" tension as your guests approach the table. Don't be afraid to think outside the box: Some of our favorite place cards include leaves or crab apples slit on top to fit the card.

• From Freezer to Table: If you bought a frozen turkey, now may be the time to begin the thawing process. The best way to thaw the turkey is slowly, in the refrigerator, allowing for 24 hours per every 5 pounds of meat, with a maximum of five days lead time.

• The Upper Crust: Pie crusts are one of those easy do-aheads that will save you some serious time and stress closer to the holiday. If you're making your own crusts, make and freeze them days ahead. Then thaw them a few hours before making your pies the day before. Consider making extra while you're at it to save you some time for the winter holidays.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Thanksgiving Checklist (2 Days Away)

Food Network's Thanksgiving checklist - 2 days away - have all of your ingredients at the ready. Read more.

How to Make Your Entire Thanksgiving Dinner Ahead

Food Network Kitchen tested, tweaked and retested to come up with a full Thanksgiving menu that freezes perfectly, down to the whipped cream topping for apple pie.

Thanksgiving Menu: A More Traditional Spread

If Thanksgiving means serving up classic dishes, a traditional menu is probably what you're after. If you're the chef, you can still serve guests the same seasonal flavors in healthier, lower calorie Thanksgiving dishes.

Let the Thanksgiving Countdown Begin — Don't Panic! (2 Weeks Away)

We've drawn up a nifty Thanksgiving prep guide to help you get organized from now until the big day, Thanksgiving.

Pre-Turkey Day Takeout

With our pre-Thanksgiving dinner recipes, you can have a meal on the table in 20 minutes or fewer, less than the amount of time it takes to order takeout.

Stuffing Changes Everything — Thanksgiving Tip of the Day

Stuffing your turkey changes the way you should cook the whole bird. Watch this video for Alton Brown's tips.