With a little planning, you can pull off a great Thanksgiving meal.  

Delicious Thanksgiving recipes and ideas for your table plus ways to make your meal stress-free.


Planning ahead and doing a little bit each week leading up to Thanksgiving will help you have a stress-free Thanksgiving holiday.   This list looks like a lot of work, and it is a lot of work, but if you start early, you can get it all done.  Planning ahead and accomplishing these tasks a little at a time leading up to Thanksgiving will help you have a stress-free holiday.

4 Weeks before Thanksgiving:

  • Think about how you would like to see your Thanksgiving meal function.  Do you want to host a sit-down dinner, potluck, buffet-style, have a kids table or an elegant table setting?
  • How many tables do you need and where are you going to set them up?  All of these questions need to be address before you can invite anyone.
  • Ask Guest, once you know what you are going to do and how many people you can host.  Inviting everyone four weeks early will allow them plenty of time to plan on attending.
  • Start planning your menu.  Gather favorite Thanksgiving recipes from family.  You want to serve classic dishes that everyone loves.
  • Do you have favorite family recipes for turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, salads, rolls, and desserts?
  • If someone asks, you what they can bring, have a plan and be ready to give an answer.
  • Will you be able to prepare everything?  If not, ask close family members to help out or host a potluck.
  • Can you decorate the table or do you know someone who is great at it?  Tablecloths, candles, centerpieces for the tables and buffet. Do you need a wreath for the door?
  • Do you have enough place settings?  Would it be better to use theme Thanksgiving paper plates?
  • Next, finalized the menu and recipes.
  • Make a shopping list of all the ingredients you will need.
  • Make a list of baking or cooking dishes you will need.  Do you need to purchase or borrow anything? Turkey Roaster, Gravy boat, trays, platters, carving knife, butter dish, or anything else?
  • Make a list of extra chairs and linens you will need.

3 Weeks Ahead:

  • Clean out clutter especially in the kitchen.
  • Clean out the freezer.
  • Purchase the non-perishable food items including anything that can go into the freezer including the turkey.
  • Purchase disposable plastic containers so others can take food home.
  • Make a cooking timeline.  What are you going to prepare on what days?  Prepare as much as you can ahead of time.

2 Weeks Ahead:

  • Start cooking!  This may be your busiest week!!  Make anything that can be made ahead of time.  Wrap it well and placed in the freezer.
  • Bread, cakes, pies, casseroles or anything else that can be frozen.
  • Pecan Pie Bars #24 below are an excellent choice on Thanksgiving when everyone is so full they do not want something right after dinner.
  • My recipes that can be frozen include:

    • Cornbread – picture #29
    • Super Moist Cornbread dressing – picture #30
    • Sweet potato casserole without the toppings – picture #1
    • Sweet Potato Biscuits – picture #20
    • Pumpkin Bread without the Praline Sauce – Picture #18 and #26
    • Chocolate cake without the chocolate sauce – Picture #28

5 Days Before:

  • If you have a frozen turkey, place it in the refrigerator or brine. 

Three Days before Thanksgiving:

  • Do a big fridge cleaning to make room for perishable
  • Purchase your perishable foods including lettuce, other produce, milk, and more.
  • Take food out of the freezer.  Did you freeze casseroles, cakes, pies, and more?
  • Place in the refrigerator to start defrosting.

Two Days Before Thanksgiving:

  • Wash and chop fresh produce.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Make the salad dressings, dessert toppings, or anything else you can make ahead that you have not already done.
  • Set the table, buffet, centerpieces, candles.
  • Arrange the chairs.
  • Make sure you have containers ready to store food in after dinner.
  • Decide when you are going to serve dessert.  Will you have dessert right after dinner, a dessert buffet table, dessert after you get the kitchen cleaned up, or two hours after dinner?
  • Bake desserts if you have not already done it.

Thanksgiving Day:

  • Season the turkey and place it in the oven as early as you can.
  • Take your other dishes that need to be baked and place on the counter in the order they need to be baked.
  • When the turkey comes out let it rest and make the gravy while your sides are baking.
  • Be sure to use a timer; you will get busy and forget something is in the oven.
  • When the sides are done, bake the bread.

Thanksgiving Dinner Time:

  • Carve the turkey.
  • Place all the food on the buffet or table.
  • If you are using a buffet table, plug-in slow cookers and place them on the buffet.
  • You can camouflage the crock-pot with extra fall decorations like flowers in small vases or artificial leaves.
  • Use the slow cooker to serve and keep your bread, gravy, mashed potatoes, or any other dish that can easily go in the crock-pot to keep warm.

Depending on when you are serving dessert, put the coffee on.

After Dinner:

  • Wrap and store food within two hours.
  • Have disposable plastic containers available for the family to take food home.

What are my family’s favorite Thanksgiving Recipes?

Everyone in my family chooses one of their favorite Thanksgiving Recipes for our holiday table, and they help prepare it.  Cooking what you love to eat is a great way to get everyone involved in the kitchen.  The first set of Thanksgiving recipes below are all from my blog, Recipes for our Daily Bread.  They are the recipes we often prepare on most holidays.



Other Recipes You May Enjoy

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