SC Johnson Family Economics Blog
Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thanksgiving Countdown List | Family Economics


Alison Lewis 


Thanksgiving place setting 

Do you find yourself stressed out about having Thanksgiving at your house? Taper your stress by planning ahead! If you’re unsure of where to start, follow the below outline I’ve created, which includes a checklist of to-do’s leading up to the big family gathering.

Two weeks before:

•    Plan a guest list and assign each person with an item you’d like them to bring. Asking guests to bring a side dish, dessert or some beverages will make your life a lot easier and will allow you to focus on making the main dish and table setting amazing.

•    Plan out your menu. Write out what you plan on serving for appetizers, the main course and dessert. If you plan on making your own cocktails, write down what type you’ll be serving. Once you have your final menu, list out the ingredients that you’ll need for each dish.

•    Based on the number of RSVP’s you receive, decide what size turkey you will need. Doing this ahead of time will be beneficial as most people will be purchasing theirs the week before Thanksgiving Day. If you plan on ordering a fresh turkey, this week would be the time to do so!

One week before:

•    Revisit your menu and shopping list and check your pantry and refrigerator to see what ingredients you have in-house. Be sure to cross off the ingredients you don’t need and update the amounts of any items you may be running low on.

•    Plan out any activities you want to do with the children to keep them occupied on Thanksgiving Day. Add any materials you don’t have to your shopping list such as coloring books, crayons, play-doh and more.

•    Plan your table setting and centerpiece décor. Decide which china, glassware and table linens you want to use. Think through different table setting options for both children and adults.

•    Once you have your shopping list all set to go with both food and miscellaneous items, head to the store!

•    Prepare any make-ahead dishes this week and store in the freezer. This will help eliminate the stresses of trying to cook everything in one week.

•    Think ahead when it comes to defrosting your turkey. Remember to plan a full day for every four pounds of turkey being thawed.

Thanksgiving week:

•    Clean the house two to three days before you plan to have people over. Make sure that all your serving dishes are also clean and ready to go. This will help eliminate the amount of work you have to do the day before/on Thanksgiving Day.

•    Make an actionable plan on Thanksgiving Day. If you have some spare time, write a detailed list with a timeline of when people will start to arrive, what time each dish needs to go in the oven/start getting prepped and timing of when you plan to serve each dish. This will help keep you organized on the day of the event and keep things on schedule.

•    Decorate your house. Start putting up little decorations and embellishments throughout your house. Attention to detail will really pay off here as your guests are sure to recognize the work you put into the creative centerpiece and detailed name cards.

•    Continue preparing as many dishes as you can throughout the week in the days leading up to the event.

The day before:

•    Prepare and bake all your desserts including this Oatmeal Chocolate Pecan Pie. Store them in a safe place where you know your children won’t get a sampling ahead of the big day!

•    Set the table in advance. Take out your fine china and utensils, glassware and dessert trays, and line them up accordingly on the table. Have your children help by arranging the placemats and centerpieces.

Voila! You’re all set to take Thanksgiving Day by storm. All that is left to do is make the turkey and re-heat your sides. Sit back, relax and enjoy your guests!

How do you prepare for Thanksgiving ahead of time?

Photo courtesy of Alison Lewis.

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