One day of Thanksgiving is never enough. Get into the holiday spirit early by staying organized and planning ahead for a successful — and seamless — celebration. Follow our simple countdown checklist, and you'll have plenty of time to prepare every last detail from turkey to table settings. Remember: Don't be afraid to delegate! Getting everyone involved will make your meal that much more festive.
2 Weeks Ahead:
Although it's too soon to start shopping, use this time to get all the particulars straightened out. Nail down exact numbers for your guest list. Once you've gotten a final head count, order your turkey ahead of time (assume 2 pounds per adult, 1 pound per child — leftovers guaranteed), and use the week to plan your menu.
1 Week Ahead:
Write out a detailed shopping list, and then go ahead and buy the premade items you'll be using before stores run out (think pie crust and canned cranberry sauce), along with any wine you'll be serving.
5 Days Ahead:
Get a jump-start on dessert by making — and then freezing — your pie crusts, if you're going with homemade. Begin defrosting the turkey if necessary, slowly in the refrigerator, allotting about 24 hours per 5 pounds of meat (5 days maximum).
2 Days Ahead:
Let the supermarket sweep begin! Beat the crowds by doing all of your shopping today; this will also give you some wiggle room if there's anything you forgot. Make your homemade cranberry sauce today, and then take a kitchen break to set a beautiful table for Thursday.
The more you can do ahead today, the less you'll have on your plate for tomorrow. If you're brining your turkey, start now to allow the bird to soak up all that sugary salty liquid overnight. Bake your pies (oftentimes the flavor is better after sitting for a day), and make and refrigerate soup. Go ahead and chop all your vegetables so they're ready to be cooked, including potatoes (remember to keep them in water so they don't brown).
Finish your mashed potatoes and sides in the morning while the turkey is roasting (leave plenty of time for the bird to cook and rest before carving). And keep hungry guests at bay — you need to save some food for dinner. Choose from dozens of appetizers to keep guests snacking while you finish cooking.