Thanksgiving Day Checklist


Creating a Thanksgiving feast is a big job, but you can do it! Taking it step by step nixes stress and puts you on top of your turkey game, ready to enjoy your guests and some great food. We've compiled a comprehensive countdown to Turkey Day so that you stay stress-free all month long.

Three weeks and counting
  • Make a guest list and send out invitations to Thanksgiving Day dinner.
  • Find out whether your guests have any dietary restrictions.
  • Take a kitchen inventory to discover what kitchen gadgets you might need to buy or borrow.

Two weeks and counting
  • Get the final head count for Turkey Day dinner.
  • Begin planning your menu, down to the butter for mashed potatoes and whipped cream for pumpkin pies.
  • Decide on your turkey plan of action—Will you brine? Smoke a bird? Go with frozen or fresh?—and what size you'll need. See Turkey Sizes & Cook Times.
  • Pull recipes and create a master shopping list and scout for advance steps, like premixing dry ingredients for corn bread.
  • Decide which serving pieces you want to use for different recipes.
  • Take a spice inventory to see which key ingredients, like cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, etc., you'll need to replenish this year.

One week and counting
  • Make a trip to H-E-B for everything except perishable fruits and veggies (tougher ones, like squash, potatoes, carrots, are okay to buy ahead of time).
  • Polish silver and iron table linens.
  • Make place cards and seating arrangements.
  • Do a cupboard and refrigerator clean sweep so there's room for everything to fit.
  • Complete recipe elements that can be completed and frozen ahead of time, like cranberry sauce, pie, and bread dough.

Three days and counting
  • Make another trip to H-E-B to stock up on leafy greens and perishables, along with anything you may have forgot the first time.
  • If you're defrosting a turkey, now's the time to start.
  • Pick up your turkey anytime from today until the day before Thanksgiving.

24 hours and counting
  • Brine your turkey in the refrigerator, if you plan to do so.
  • Make all the desserts, side dishes, and soups that you can do ahead of time.
  • Slice, dice, and chop veggies for side dishes and salads you'll put together tomorrow.
  • Assemble casseroles but don't cook them just yet.
  • Set the table.
  • Decorate the kids' table with things like cut-out turkeys.
Thanksgiving Day
  • Chill wines and beer.
  • Put the turkey in to roast.
  • Cook all casseroles.
  • Make the gravy.
  • Dress all salads.
  • Let the turkey rest.
  • Enjoy the meal you've made!