My 2023 Thanksgiving Timeline. How to Prep Everything One Week Leading Up To Thanksgiving!
My thanksgiving timeline is the key to a successful holiday meal! I come prepped and prepared for the holiday so I can make it fun and enjoyable for everyone. I love making a huge spread for my family and friends!
Over the years I’ve shared my Thanksgiving timeline and it’s been insanely helpful – especially to me! I look back on these posts on the actual day and follow them exactly.
I’m making a full spread and it’s always our best CLASSICS – my family only wants the traditional dishes on Thanksgiving Day. 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!
- Butter White Wine Roasted Turkey
- Turkey Stock
- Buttery Herb Stuffing
- How Sweet Eats House Mashed Potatoes
- The Best Gravy Ever
- Pomegranate Greens Salad
- Vanilla Bourbon Cranberry Sauce
- Lightened Up Sweet Potato Casserole
- Green Bean Casserole
- Parker House Rolls
- Pomegranate Jeweled Cheeseball
- Pumpkin Dream Cake
- Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
- Red Apple Cider Sangria
THE WEEK BEFORE:
- 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.
- 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(s).
- I prep my dry brine (2.5 T salt + 2t sugar) and prep my turkey, get it all together and stick it in the fridge, UNCOVERED. Let the magic happen.
- I make my turkey stock. This is SO worth it. Plus, it’s easy. It’s a lot of downtime once it gets going.
- 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, but cover it and stick it in the fridge. 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 frost, cover and refrigerate the cake.
- I peel the potatoes and place them in a pot of cold water in the fridge.
- I prep the parker house roll dough and bake the rolls before bed.
- 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.
- Prep the cheesecloth, butter/wine mixture for the turkey.
- Turkey is stuffed (if you want), 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, but only do it every 60 minutes or so. I personally don’t even think it needs it.
- 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 also when I shower and get ready myself.
2 PM to 3PM:
- I make the mashed potatoes. I make them fully, but 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. It does reheat well if you make it ahead of time.
- 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.
I live for this day. This week! Truly. It’s all the prep – that’s where the fun is.