Thanksgiving checklist

Making a list and checking it twice isn’t just for Santa Claus this holiday season. Before the holly jolly holiday rolls around, families across the nation will sit down for the annual Thanksgiving Day feast. Use this Thanksgiving checklist to help you plan and execute a Thanksgiving Day feast that is sure to impress your guests.

One Week Before

  • Clean out your refrigerator to make room for the meal and leftovers
  • Tidy up the house Confirm the number of guests who will be attending the dinner
  • Determine if you have enough serving platters and place settings
  • Borrow needed supplies or shop the thrift stores


  • Defrost the turkey, allowing one day of thawing for every four pounds of turkey
  • Iron table linens


  • Do your final shopping
  • Write out a cooking schedule and timetable
  • Plan time for any religious services or volunteer events before the dinner
  • Prepare and freeze appropriate side dishes and desserts
  • Prepare and refrigerate moist ingredients for the stuffing


  • Set the table
  • Set out Thanksgiving decorations
  • Clear out the coat closet for guests’ coats
  • Clean the guest bathroom
  • Clean entertainment areas including the living room and kitchen
  • Take the gravy out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator so it can defrost
  • Decide on a table centerpiece
  • Decide what to wear and mentally take yourself through Thanksgiving Day
  • Make the stuffing in the morning and stuff the turkey right before it’s ready to go in the oven
  • Roast the turkey until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh of the turkey indicates the internal temperature is 180°F and a thermometer inserted into the breast reads 165°-170°F
  • Within two hours after roasting, remove stuffing from turkey and carve meat off bones


  • Eat breakfast
  • Enlist helpers to prepare the house for guests’ arrival
  • Remove prepared side dishes from the freezer and bake
  • Before guests arrive, delegate assignments to each family member
  • Have a great Thanksgiving!
  • Once guests leave, freeze or refrigerate any leftovers


  • Remove any decorations
  • Enlist family members to help re-tidy house
  • Send thank-you cards to people who helped with dinner
  • Check-out great Black Friday deals and specials
  • Rest

For more tips on how to have a tasty and thrifty Thanksgiving, download our free eBook.  For ideas on what to serve to streach your food dollar watch our thrifty Thanksgiving video.

 Instead of spending a lot on new (and rarely needed!) kitchen items,  check thrift stores or borrow from friends, family, or neighbors.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.