Do These 11 Things the Week Before Thanksgiving holding a turkey by the legs

How many times in your life have you regretfully told someone, “The holidays have snuck up on me”? I say that to myself just about every year around this time.

I hate to break it to youm but Thanksgiving is only a week away. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner for family and friends, you can check a few things off your to-do list this week to make next week easier.

To help you plan for the holiday, here is my Thanksgiving prep checklist for the week before Thanksgiving.

11 Things to do the Week Before Thanksgiving

1. Finalize your guest list

If your wishy-washy brother hasn’t let you know if he’s coming over for dinner yet, shoot him a text and tell him to make up his mind! You’ll need an accurate headcount of both adults and children to figure out how much food and drink you’ll need. Prices of everything at the grocery store have gone up, and you don’t want to buy more than you need.

2. Decide on a menu

Menu planning for Thanksgiving is pretty easy. Same old same old. Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, maybe a green vegetable as a half-hearted attempt at trying to work in something healthy. Don’t forget the pumpkin pie. Now’s the time to look at your guest list and determine if anyone has dietary restrictions you need to consider. Is someone lactose intolerant? Vegetarian? Gluten free? Thinking ahead can make sure you make every guest feel welcome.

3. Write your grocery list

Now that you have your menu planned and know how many guests to expect, you can make your grocery list. Check your recipes twice. You might need to make more than one list if you can’t get everything you need at one store. I make a stuffing with Italian sausage, so I make a special trip to an Italian food store to buy the good stuff.

4. Figure out how much turkey you’ll need

Figure out how large of a turkey you need based on your guest list. You’ll need one to one and a half pounds of turkey per adult, if you’re buying a whole turkey.

turkey in shopping cart

5. Decide where you’re buying your turkey

This is less of an issue if you’re buying a frozen turkey. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a frozen bird at any of your local grocery stores. Fresh or organic turkeys are usually in lesser supply, but some grocery stores like Whole Foods allow you to reserve one in advance. That’s what I do. You should call and reserve one from Whole Foods or a local farm as soon as possible.

6. Make room in the fridge

Clean out your refrigerator to make room for the turkey and all the other food you’ll be buying.
Toss out all the to-go containers that have accumulated the last week or so. Do you really need four different mustards? Rearrange what you’re not throwing away to maximize space.

7. Gather cookware and dinnerware

Find the roasting pan, all the serving platters and bowls you’ll need, and the dinnerware with the autumn leaves pattern you use once a year. Where is the good tablecloth? It’s a good idea to throw everything that hasn’t been used since last year into the dishwasher. Stuff can accumulate dust or smell like the basement when not used frequently. You don’t want to discover the serving platter is dirty right before you start carving the turkey.

8. Check your meat thermometer

If you have a digital thermometer, make sure the battery is still good. This is one of those items that may only be used once or twice a year. You need a thermometer in working condition to make sure the turkey is cooked. As the menu at your favorite restaurant likes to remind us, “Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shell-fish, or eggs may increase your risk for foodborne illness; especially if you have a medical condition.”

9. Clean the house

You don’t need me to tell you. Dust, run the vacuum, and clean the bathrooms guests will use.

10. Get some of the grocery shopping out of the way

Buy things that won’t spoil to ease your grocery shopping the week of Thanksgiving, such as beverages and snacks. If you’re using paper products for dinner, pick up paper plates and napkins, too. Don’t forget the wine.

11. Finally, get organized.

Keep track of what you need to do by checking off the items you’ve completed from the list above. Then write out a new list of tasks you need to do the days before Thanksgiving. Write out your grocery list for the ingredients you still need to buy. Make yourself a schedule for the week. Plan out what days you will finish your grocery shopping and what stores you heed to go to. Figure out what dishes and desserts you can make Tuesday and Wednesday so Thursday you just have to worry about the turkey and maybe a couple sides.

Thanksgiving should be a relaxing day spent with family and friends, reflecting on all the blessings for which we’re thankful. You can help take the stress out of the day by planning ahead and folowing my Thanksgiving prep checklist. I hope my list helps! Happy Thanksgiving!

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