Thanksgiving Checklist: Plan A Low-Fuss Feast

When you're hosting Thanksgiving, the countdown to the big feast can be overwhelming and downright crazy. A step-by-step timeline helps you take care of all the details and have more time to celebrate with family and friends.

Check out these stress-saving tips to make the process easy, and you'll have a delicious dinner on the table with ease. Print out the checklist below to get started and enjoy the season of gratitude!

Early November

  • Make a guest list and gather contact information. 
  • Plan the menu.
  • Send holiday themed invitations from SignUpGenius to collect RSVP’s and request items for a potluck.
  • Make a shopping list of all the food you need for your party.
  • Place your order for a fresh turkey.
  • Decide which china, glassware and table linens you’ll use. 
  • Iron linens if needed.
  • Order a floral centerpiece or buy supplies to create your own.
Two Weeks Ahead

  • Make sure you have enough tables and chairs for your guests. 
  • Check all serving dishes, flatware and glassware and polish your silver.
  • Shop for any paper goods you will need.
  • Clean your refrigerator to make room for your Thanksgiving items.
  • Shop for nonperishable groceries.
  • Make your place cards and table decorations.
One Week Ahead

  • Review your recipes and prepare a cooking schedule.
  • Buy your frozen turkey and check the thawing time.
  • Prepare your guest room with fresh linens and other special touches. 
  • Complete any needed outdoor work like raking leaves or cleaning the windows.
  • Prepare items to keep the kids busy like arts and crafts, games or movies.
  • Print out icebreaker questions and games.
  • Make a playlist.
Four Days Ahead

  • Begin defrosting the frozen turkey in your refrigerator.
  • Do major housecleaning and organizing.
  • Put up wreaths and nonperishable decorations like candles.
  • Organize containers, bags and wraps so guests can easily bring home leftovers.
Two Days Ahead

  • Chill beverages.
  • Shop for perishable items. Clean vegetables and refrigerate.
  • Complete light housecleaning.
One Day Ahead

  • Prepare food that can be made ahead, including any chopping or peeling.
  • Check bathrooms for paper goods and hand towels. 
  • Do spot cleaning of the rooms that will be used.
  • Set out serving pieces in order on a counter or buffet table.
  • Set the table.
  • Make a staging area for coffee, desserts and drinks. Stock with flatware, sugar and creamer, etc.
  • Pick up floral arrangement or create your own.
Thanksgiving Day

  • Fill condiment dishes with pickles, olives, cranberry sauce, etc. Cover and refrigerate.
  • Assign family members tasks such as pouring drinks and watching the children.
  • Remove turkey from the refrigerator for one to two hours.
  • Add stuffing to the bird or place into casserole to bake separately. 
  • Preheat oven, put turkey in and baste every half hour or according to your recipe.
  • Prepare coffee and brew 20 minutes before serving.
  • Make gravy, heat last-minute vegetables and warm the bread or rolls as needed.
  • Carve the turkey.
  • Time for dinner! Share icebreaker questions to spark conversation.
  • Clear the table and serve dessert.
  • Relax or enjoy family games and activities.