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The Ultimate Thanksgiving Game Plan

How far in advance do you plot your Thanksgiving meal?

a) I've been plotting Thanksgiving since September!
b) As soon as Halloween craziness dies down
c) A couple weeks before
d) Umm … how long does it take to defrost a turkey?

Thanksgiving Dinner - PlanningIf you're the type to delay Thanksgiving plans, you may be getting a little sick of the mad rush that the lead-up to Turkey Day inevitably becomes. And if you plan ahead, major kudos for your preparedness.

Whether you're a Thanksgiving procrastinator, or a Thanksgiving planning pro, a calendar is your best weapon against day-of woes and mishaps. There are as many calendars out there to choose from as there are sworn-by family recipes for stuffing. If you want a visual reminder every time you enter your kitchen or office, a poster-size wall calendar is the way to go! 

We've created the ultimate schedule for getting your Day of Thanks act together. So—with less than four weeks to go (eek!)—get ready, set … and mark your calendars!

Three Weeks Out (November 3-9)

  • Determine guest list and identify any food allergies or special dietary preferences.
  • Pick the time and place for your dinner, and notify guests.
  • Chart out your menu, and figure out which dishes you will make, and which dishes you'll have guests bring.
  • If you'd like to order turkey from a local farm, contact the farmer or a local goods retailer ASAP to reserve your turkey—turkeys go fast! Find a turkey farm near you.
  • Finish eating all your Halloween candy to give your family a little dietary reprieve before the big feast!

Two Weeks Out (November 10-16)

  • Create a grocery shopping list based on your menu.
  • Plan the beverage pairings for your menu. Think pre-dinner cocktails, wine or beer pairings for the meal, non-alocholic juices or sparkling beverage options, post-dinner aperitifs, post-dinner coffee to help offset food comas, etc. 
  • Pick out any special table decorations and purchase. Think tablecloths, napkins, flowers, centerpieces, candles, and whatever strikes your autumn fancy!
  • Make a Thanksgiving playlist to set the mood.

One Week Out (November 17-23)

  • Towards the end of the week, plan to make a few more dishes ahead, and buy ingredients that will stay good through Thanksgiving. You can make baked goods like rolls and pies ahead of time and freeze them. If you're making spreads or dips as appetizers, for example, you can make these ahead of time and store them in tupperware containers. Here are some ideas for make-ahead recipes.
  • Purchase beverages, beer, wine, liquor, and mixers.
  • Began decorating your dining room and preparing any DIY decorations if you're making them.

Week Of (November 24-Thanksgiving)

  • Do the big shop! Get your turkey, all your ingredients, and all serve-ahead items like cheese and crackers.
  • Clean your house, finish decorating the dining room, and set the table (yes, this is one less thing you'll have to do day-of).
  • 1-2 days before the big day, prepare additional make-ahead dishes. For examples, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, and other casseroles can be made ahead of time and then reheated. 
  • 1-2 days before, brine the turkey, and prep other dishes by pre-chopping produce and pre-mixing sauces and dressings.
  • 1-2 days before, premix or prepare any cocktail ingredients.

On Thanksgiving

Give yourself a pat on the back! Thanks to all your planning and your handy calendar, you've met all your pre-Thanksgiving deadlines and the actual day is so much less stressful! Now, all you have to do is cook up the turkey and a few other dishes, and relax.

Here are some of our poster-size calendars to help keep you organized as you prepare for your holiday feast.

Keep Calm and Carry On 2015 Poster Wall CalendarToday Is Going to Be a Great Day 2015 Poster CalendarThe New Yorker 2015 Poster Calendar

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