Thanksgiving for us is more than just a holiday dinner; we thoroughly enjoy preparing the entire event. The highlight is Thursday Thanksgiving morning; we turn on The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and begin to prep our turkey. We generally start our feast at 2:00 p.m. That way if DF wants a turkey sandwich he can enjoy it around 8:00p.m after all the guests leave.
Every year Sydney and I prepare two Thanksgivings, each about 20 people. Many years ago I realized if we bought two 14 pound turkeys, rather than a larger turkey, the turkeys were juicer and it did not take too long to cook them. I realized just recently we also help friends and clients prepare their meal and/or help them plan the Thanksgiving dinner. I started thinking there must others who need a little help organizing the big day.
It is nice for your guest if there is a little something out to munch on while you are putting the finishing touches. Spanakopita is what we are serving this year, with homemade phyllo dough (don’t gasp store bought is fine, just make sure to defrost the dough in you refrigerator) and puff pastry cheese sticks.
Here is our Schedule and Timeline:
As early as possible invite your guests with an RSVP date.
The first week of November: we order our turkeys; I know most grocery stores will take orders up to 2-days prior to Thanksgiving. If you have not ordered your Turkey now is a good time. I prefer Diestel turkeys, they are organic and fresh.
- Ten days out:
- Count the available tables and chairs for your guests; if you are short correct this now
- Check all serving dishes, flatware, and glassware.
- Polish silver.
- Shop for any paper goods you need for the event; including paper towels
- Check your inventory anything needed for the table top
- Make room in your refrigerator
- Shop for nonperishable groceries on your shopping list.
- Inventory your platter and serving dishes
- Five days prior:
- Plan seating arrangements.
- Choose your recipes and prepare a cooking schedule for Thanksgiving Day.
- Prepare guest rooms with fresh linens and other amenities.
- Clear the driveway and the path to the front door, if your front door is glass clean it, if you have snow or ice on the ground clear it.
- Clean the silver
- If you have invited children decide if you will have a separate table; child proof your home if really tiny children are coming
- Four days out:
- Iron linens to be used and if the table you have chosen to use is not in use lay out the linens
- Do major housecleaning
- Organize thoughts
- If a guest has offered to bring something politely call them and remind them. From past experiences don’t count on the item (i.e if they have offer to bring a salad and the fixing have some ready incase they forget, and allow then to assemble the salad to save face).
- Decorate the home
- If you are planing to share leftovers take an inventory of plastic containers, bags, and wraps so guests can take home the delicious meal, and you don’t have to stress about anyone retuning your “good” containers.
- Three days out:
- Prepare homemade bread (brioche) for stuffing and the table bread (polish, sponge, dough, and first rise).
- Grocery shop for the vegetables, potatoes, fruits for pies etc.
- Fill salt and pepper shakers
- Check for enough coffee bean or grinds
- Lightly clean your home, check bathroom, and vacuums
- Two days out:
- Bake the homemade bread for the stuffing, (that was prepared the day before).
- If your serving a certain type of bread for the table prep the shape, cover with film, and place the bread in the refrigerator
- Prepare you cranberry sauce/conserve
- Prepare any desserts that can be baked ahead of time or need more than one day to finish
- Decorate sugar cookie place cards
- Check for coffee, tea, cream, and fixings
- Check your bathrooms. Be sure to have extra paper goods and hand towels available.
- Pick out the wine you will be serving and chill any white wine
- Defrost the homemade stock and place in the refrigerator
- If you are using frozen phylllo dough/ and puff pastry transfer from freezer to refrigerator
- One Day out:
- Check your home again for cleanliness
- Set the table in the evening.
- Clean and discard inners of turkey
- Prepare brine for turkey
- Brine and refrigerate turkey
- Clean vegetables and refrigerate.
- Prepare stuffing
- Turkey Day:
- Turn the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on, (optional)
- Place sugar cookie place cards on the table
- Remove the turkey from brine
- Preheat oven.
- Dress the turkey
- Tress the turkey
- Place the turkey in the oven. A 12 to 14 pound turkey will take 2 1/2 to 3 hours ( the internal temperature should be between 72-76 degrees C/ 160 to 170 degrees F)
- Bake the bread if needed
- Peel potatoes and place in ice water till ready to use
- Bake sweet potatoes, for sweet potato cups
- Cube the brioche for the stuffing and toast it
- Prepare and cook the stuffing
- Cook the vegetables
- Your pre made cakes should remain cold till the turkey has been eaten
- Start to place food in serving dishes
- Remove the turkey to rest for 20 minutes prior to eating
- Pour water
- Open wine
- Set timer on coffee make with coffee in the coffee maker
- Carve turkey
- Enjoy dessert
Hopefully your guest offer to help clean.
Thanks for sharing your timeline. I think they’re necessary for a successful event.