Checklist: One-Week Countdown to Thanksgiving

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Turkey Day is a week away! If you're hosting the turkey dinner this year, you're probably under a lot of stress to get everything done and host a successful holiday. We're here to make your Thanksgiving preparations a little easier so you can enjoy the time with your friends and family. This checklist will take you day by day, starting a week away from Thanksgiving, with instructions on what to do to prepare for the big day. Good luck!

>> Read more: Top Ten Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

Thursday before Thanksgiving:

  • If you haven't finalized your guest list yet, now is the time. Ask if anyone is bringing a plus-one.
  • You should also confirm who is bringing what side dish, appetizer or dessert, which gives you a chance to finalize the menu as well. Don't forget about sparkling juice for the kids and adult beverages like wine and beer!
  • Buy your turkey today as well, if you already haven't. Make sure you have room for it in the freezer, because that's where it will be living for the next few days.
  • While you're at it, clean out your fridge as well. You know you've been wanting to do it for forever, anyway. What better time than now? There's going to be a ton of food going in and out of there throughout the next week.


  • Shopping day! Take today to plan and purchase nonperishables. That includes food as well as table settings. If you need to, purchase plates, chargers, water glasses, wine glasses, cutlery, napkins, tablecloths and a centerpiece. Don't forget about serving dishes and plastic containers for leftovers!
  • Take inventory of your pantry and make a list of the foods you will need for the upcoming week. Buy the nonperishables today and the rest Monday.
  • Sometimes we're so focused on the turkey dinner that we forget about the less significant aspects of hosting a party. Think about your bathroom. Do you have the proper bathroom linens you need? What about festive Thanksgiving decorations for the rest of your home? If not, add those to your shopping list.

Saturday and Sunday:

  • As excited as you are to see family and friends on Thanksgiving Day, you know that there will be at least one relative assessing the cleanliness of your home while you slave away over the stove all day. Take Saturday and Sunday to completely clean your home. Enlist the services of your kids and hubby and divide and conquer the house. Dust, sweep and mop the entire house, because you just know that the little ones playing hide and seek will know no limits on Thursday. Use incentives for the kids to keep the house clean during the week!


  • Buy the remainder of the food for the week that you couldn't buy Friday. You'll have tons of room for it in your clean fridge and kitchen!
  • Depending on how big your turkey is, it might be time to defrost the turkey in the fridge. You should place the frozen turkey (still in its packaging) in a shallow pan on the bottom shelf of your fridge. Allow 24 hours thawing time for every 4 to 5 pounds. A thawed bird can keep up to 4 days in the fridge.


  • Finally, time for some cooking! Cook or prepare the ingredients that will be able to last two or three days, like chopping onions and frying bacon for stuffing, or making the gravy to save you a ton of time on Thursday. You could even cook and freeze some pies! Check out these great skinny holiday desserts!
  • If you didn't start to defrost your turkey yet and it weighs between 10 to 15 pounds, now is the time.

>> Hosting a vegetarian Thanksgiving? Check out these 12 meatless Thanksgiving main courses!


  • You've gathered and purchased everything for the dinner table, so now it's time to set the table! Place everything down to the last salad fork where it belongs so you don't have to do it tomorrow. You can even label the trivets that will hold each dish to make it easier to envision where everything will need to be and what you still need to get done.
  • If your kids are old enough to drive, send one of them to pick up a couple bags of ice. Ice is always vital for chilling beverages during family gatherings.
  • Defrost any food you made and froze ahead of time, like pies, in the fridge.
  • Roast or steam veggies that you haven't yet prepared. Let them cool and store in the fridge.
  • If you make your stuffing or dressing from scratch, don't forget to let the bread sit out overnight, unless you plan on toasting it tomorrow!


  • The big day is finally here, and you're prepared! Thanksgiving morning you should cook the stuffing and potatoes.
  • Stuff the bird and get it roasting! Our Thanksgiving Turkey recipe is simple, healthy and delicious.
  • Make any veggies you haven't prepared yet and if needed, whip and chill the cream for dessert!
  • In the afternoon, you should finish the gravy by adding drippings.
  • Get the cranberry sauce to room temperature by taking it out of the fridge.
  • Reheat the potatoes in the microwave right before serving dinner.
  • Transfer the turkey to its platter and either cut or have someone cut into the bird.
  • Sit down and eat! Don't forget to give thanks!
  • One last thing: Warm the pies before dessert.

Congratulations! You made it through Thanksgiving dinner! Now it's time to enlist the help of your family to deal with the dishes and leftovers.