2020 Thanksgiving Menu and Timeline

Over the years I’ve shared my Thanksgiving timeline and it’s been insanely helpful – especially to me! This year looks different for everyone, but since we’re still having our parents over, I’m making a full spread. It’s our best CLASSICS! I don’t change a ton in terms of dishes I’ll be serving, and now that I have kids, it helps me SO much to be able to plan and organize in advance. It allows me to enjoy the day so much. Because I love cooking a giant spread for everyone!

I’m sharing my full menu below! And then, my crazy timeline starting from four weeks out.

2020 Thanksgiving Menu and Timeline

My 2020 Thanksgiving Menu

2020 Thanksgiving Menu and Timeline


  • I determine who is coming and how many people I’ll have for dinner. We never have a HUGE group, but obviously this year it’s very small.
  • I figure out the menu! What exactly I’m serving, buying and what are others bringing. See above for details.
  • I go through every.single.recipe and write down the ingredients. I take inventory of what I have. From there, I build a grocery list around what I need.
  • I go through all of the serving dishes, place settings, glasses and everything I’ll need. This is personal preference but I love to use real dishes and set the table for Thanksgiving. It’s probably because my mom and grandma always did. I think it just makes for such a nice meal and it also allows people to linger at the table for conversation after! This year, I am considering using plastic silverware and serving ware for safety purposes.
  • I also go through all of my cookware. Do I have the turkey roaster, kitchen twine, baster, enough pots, baking dishes, etc.
  • I make a master list, based on all of the above, on EVERYTHING I will need.
  • I order a fresh turkey.
  • I usually make a list for Eddie to do that includes errands he can run during the week at lunch. Things like grabbing extra propane for the grill if we’re grilling or smoking a turkey, light bulbs for any that may be burnt out in the house, grabbing drinks, etc.
  • You can order florals if you wish. I learned this the hard way two years ago when I spent $100 upfront ordering one that looked like it belonged in a funeral home. I ended up buying my own flowers and making my own, so I don’t order any.
  • I buy as much as I can right now. This includes wine, pantry ingredients, things like crackers for the appetizers, foil containers or packaging for people to take home leftovers – EVERYTHING. And I check it off the list!

2020 Thanksgiving Menu and Timeline


  • I take some inventory of the fridge and figure out what we can eat/cook to free up space.
  • I pick up any pantry ingredients or items I couldn’t get in the weeks prior.


  • I do a massive fridge clean. I clean the entire fridge, get rid of what I don’t need, make room for the turkey, the dishes I’ll make ahead of time, etc.
  • I go over my master list again and see what else I may need.

2020 Thanksgiving Menu and Timeline



  • I grocery shop for the things that are fresh but will last until Thursday, such as milk, potatoes, squash, etc.
  • I also think about next weekend and a lunch and dinner plan right now. I know that at some point we will be sick of leftovers and won’t want to eat out every single meal (and will want something light!) so I try to plan a light meal or two and have some things on hand for easy lunches and dinners during the long weekend.


  • I do any miscellaneous house things and regular life things that must get done to live. Ha! Things like laundry, etc.


  • I go over my list again. DO I HAVE EVERYTHING? Probably not. I always forget things.
  • I clean out my dining room and set the table. I set up my own centerpiece space – or at least as much of it as I can. I also like to set out all of my serving and baking dishes with post-it’s of what will go inside.


  • This is house cleaning day! Whether I do it, or it gets professionally cleaned.
  • I do one final grocery shop. Grabbing anything else I may need.
  • I pick up the turkey.
  • I prep my dry brine and prep my turkey, get it all together and stick it in the fridge. Let the magic happen.
  • I make my turkey stock.
  • I make the chocolate pecan pie bars and stick them in the fridge!


  • I’m making the lightened up sweet potato casserole. I don’t bake it yet. I measure out the topping ingredients and set them aside for tomorrow. I’ve done this for 7 years and it works great! This is a great dish to bring if you are going to someone else’s house.
  • I also make the green bean casserole. I make it up until the point of baking, then store it in the fridge.
  • And I’m making the cranberry sauce, the pumpkin dream cake and prepping the bread and veggies for the stuffing. I leave the bread in baking dishes and sauté the vegetables, then stick them in jars in the fridge. I refrigerate the cake.
  • I prep the parker house roll dough and bake the rolls before bed.
  • I prep the pomegranate cheese ball. This actually tastes better as it sits.
  • Finally, I prep the corn souffle pudding! This is a lot of prep, but it makes Thursday go super smoothly.
  • Before I go to sleep, I make sure that the kitchen is clean and the dishwasher is running!



  • Turkey comes out of the fridge to take the chill off.
  • I peel the potatoes and place them in a pot of cold water in the fridge.


  • Prep the cheesecloth, butter/wine mixture for the turkey.


  • Turkey is stuffed (if needed), legs trussed, ready to go.


  • Turkey goes into the oven! A 15lb turkey using this recipe takes about 4 hours. I’m giving myself more time for a slightly larger turkey. I set an alarm on my phone so I know when to baste the turkey.
  • I run the dishwasher again if needed, only so I can have a completely empty dishwasher after dinner!.


  • I make the sangria and keep it in the fridge. Also make sure coffee and dessert space is prepped!
  • This is probably when I will shower and get ready myself.

2 PM to 3PM:

  • I make the mashed potatoes. I keep them warm in a slow cooker until dinner.
  • I make the halloumi for the salad.
  • I take other dishes out of the fridge that have to be heated soon, like the sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn and the cranberry sauce.
  • Then I clean up the mess that I probably made.


  • It’s snack time. Pomegranate cheese ball coming right up! Roll it in the pomegranate arils and set it out to eat.


  • Take the turkey temperatures. Our parents come!
  • We eat and snack and chat.


  • Turkey is out of the oven and resting for 30 to 45 minutes. Side dishes that have to be warmed/baked go into the oven. I start making the gravy. I love the gravy made fresh with the turkey drippings. I follow my exact recipe! It’s worth it, trust me.
  • I throw together the salad quickly. Everything is measured, washed, made and chopped so it takes a few minutes!


  • Eddie carves the turkeys!


  • Fill up water and wine glasses, sides come out of the oven, everything is set out and arranged for serving.

6PM: Give thanks and EAT.

2020 Thanksgiving Menu and Timeline

I live for this day. This week! Truly. It’s all the prep  – that’s where the fun is.

Now I’d love to know if you prep something crazy like this? Tell me your menu (and your ways!).