We’re into the final week and there are only a few days till the big day! Here is a final checklist — broken down by days to go — to keep you cool, calm and collected. You can do it!
Sunday: Four Days Before!
- Do your big shop and beat the rush. Purchase all your perishables and any other last-minute items.
- Start thawing your frozen turkey. Place the bird in the coldest part of your fridge; you’ll need at least three days for it to completely defrost. (Plan for five hours per pound.)
- Pick up your wines and any other cocktail essentials. Plan for about half a bottle per person (about two to three glasses). And don’t leave the kids out! Sparkling apple cider is always a hit.
- Make your cranberry sauce. Homemade sauce can last up to two weeks in the fridge.
Two to try:
• Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce
• Mom’s Thanksgiving Cranberry Jello Mold
- Do a final check of all your kitchen and entertaining gear. Make sure all your spices, tools, equipment, linens, silver, cups, platters and plates are ready to go.
Tuesday: Two Days Before!
- If you ordered a fresh turkey, pick it up today. Be sure you’ve cleaned out enough space in your refrigerator beforehand!
- Make sure your turkey plan is set. Arm yourself with the essential info. Our members have shared some great prep tips in our forums:
• Helpful Hints for Handling Turkeys
• How to Carve a Turkey
• Turkey Cooking Times & Tips
- Do a last quick run to the grocery store. Pick up any perishables like flowers, delicate produce and anything else you couldn’t buy in advance.
- Set up your bar. Organize your glasses, bottle openers, mixers, etc. Pour yourself a drink while you’re at it — you’ve earned it!
- Set the table. Now’s the time to put out decorations, centerpiece, place cards, platters, serving pieces and more.
- Make and chill whipped cream for your desserts. Prepare a make-ahead recipe and it will last for days in the fridge:
• “Never-Weep” Whipped Cream
• Wilton Stabilized Whipped Cream
Wednesday: The Day Before!
- Start brining your bird. If you’re trying a brine this year, make it today and apply it to your turkey. Let your turkey sit in the fridge or a cooler with ice overnight.
- Move any frozen make-ahead dishes to the fridge. Didn’t cook ahead? There’s still time to pre-make some sides. Our list of 10 Make-Ahead Side Dishes cover all the classics (we even have a great gravy!).
- Defrost your pie dough and make your pies. You can defrost fruit-based pies at room temp but keep custard/pumpkin pies chilled. Short on time or need something quick to bring as a guest? Whip up one of these 10 Thanksgiving Shortcut Pies.
TIP: If lattice crusts scare you, just roll out the top layer of dough and use a cookie cutter to make shapes to arrange on top of your pie.
- Finalize your cooking game plan. Plot out the timing of dishes and what order they’ll go into the oven.
- Cook your turkey! Deep-frying this year? Make sure the fire extinguisher is on-hand (kidding, kidding).
- Keep the kids busy and out of your hair. There are always video games, but why not set up a fun, edible craft table (hopefully with a grandparent or other adult supervision if necessary) instead? Some good treats to try:
• Pilgrim Hat Cookies
• Oreo Turkey Thanksgiving Snack
• Rice Krispies Turkeys
- Chill all your beverages and prep any coffee you plan to brew later. Finish setting up the bar and open a goodly amount of wine to get things started (always works for us!).
- While the turkey is resting, warm up your side dishes. Don’t forget your rolls, too! Avoid burning them by warming them up last. Pop them in the oven for five minutes once all your dishes are out and as guests are heading to the table — then hand them out toasty-warm when you take your place.
Two easy recipes to try:
• Easy Dinner Rolls
• Buttery Soft Crescent Rolls
- Pat yourself on the back. You did it! Have a glass of something festive, enjoy the great food and spend time with friends and family. Oh, and get someone else to do the dishes.
The Day After: Love Your Leftovers
You’ve had great leftover turkey sandwiches and soups over the years, but have you ever had the Thanksgiving Leftover Extraordinaire? How about a Turkey Pot Pie With Stuffing Crust? Our leftover recipe collection might have you looking forward to the day after more than the main event.
Your Thanksgiving Memories
TELL US: Got a funny, freaky, memorable, horrifying, favorite memory from Thanksgivings past? Add it to the comments below!