Have you ever looked at Martha Stewart’s Thanksgiving checklist? Go ahead and Google it. The list has a task listed for EVERY DAY IN NOVEMBER. As an avid planner, I of course understand the merits of spreading out tasks over several days. But as a working-outside-the-home mom with a side hustle, I also know it may just not be realistic to carve out time every day of the week for something like this.
So, what’s a busy girl to do?
I made it my business to scour the web for every decent-looking checklist and timeline pertaining to Turkey Day, combining all the items, removing the superfluous tasks, and rearranging them into something a little more doable. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month, which gives you at least three weekends to work with… or at least a few hours over three weekends leading up to the big day.
Three Weekends Out
It seems like Christmas decorations go up the day after Halloween these days, which can make it easy to forget that Thanksgiving is coming. Instead, once the candy is gone and the costumes are put away, it’s time to shift your attention. There are two equally important things to consider first:
(1) Who’s coming to dinner?
(2) What are you eating?
That’s it. If you can compile your guest list (or at least solidify a head count) and decide on a menu, you can consider this first weekend a success.
Two Weekends Out
At this point, it’s time to focus on the food. Last weekend, you thought about your menu. This week, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty: recipes.
Whether you’re planning a traditional Thanksgiving menu or you want to think more outside the box, the internet has what you’re looking for. Spend a little time on Pinterest (or your preferred recipe source) and find exact recipes for every component of your meal. That includes appetizers, mains, sides, AND desserts.
Recipes in hand, make a complete list of ingredients including quantities. Cross off any items you already have on-hand, and then divide the rest of the list into perishable and non-perishable. The final ingredient list will likely be a long one, so you’ll want to pick up the non-perishables this weekend and the perishable ones next weekend.
One Weekend Out
Besides finishing up your shopping, the weekend before Thanksgiving is time to clean house, literally. Break out the vacuum and dust off those surfaces. If you’re expecting company, double check to be sure you’re good on seating and dinnerware for everyone. Overnight guests? Be certain you have plenty of clean linens for them.
While you’re at it, go ahead and set the table. Wash and iron any fancy tablecloths and napkins that haven’t seen the light of day since this time last year, and polish any necessary flat- and stemware. Planning a fancy centerpiece? Set up every element besides fresh flowers.
One Day Out
It’s crunch time! The day before Thanksgiving should be when you do the bulk of your prep and cooking. Bake all your pies and store them at room temperature. Cook any side dishes that will reheat well. Chop up any vegetables that you plan on using for the rest of your meal tomorrow.
The main objective of the day is to get as much done as you can so you can actually enjoy Thanksgiving.
If all goes as planned, Thanksgiving Day should be as stress-free as possible. Yes, you will have a little cooking to do, but you should still have plenty of time to enjoy your family and friends.
Oh, and don’t forget to give thanks. That’s what the day is all about, after all!