How to Host a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Part II – The Prep Schedule!


It’s beginning to look a lot like…well, Thanksgiving. Although in my house, we’ve skipped ahead with the decorations. Patience has never been my strong suit. But in terms of food, I’m right there with you, Thanksgiving all the way.

If you’ve been following along, last week I posted a Thanksgiving menu that I crafted and included my tips and tricks for hosting. I have since been posting the recipes for these dishes. Here’s the menu again, with clickable links of some of the recipes. I’ll be posting the last of them this week so stay tuned.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving is when I like to sit down with my lists and my thoughts and get ready. So I’ll share my lists and my thoughts with you so that you can prep right along with me.

4 Days Before

This is the list making and cleaning day. Wash the table linens and any glasses and serveware you’ll be using. Put tealights in all the candle holders. Get everything in it’s place so you won’t be rushing around on Thursday doing things. If you’re adding cookies to your dessert table, make those today and freeze them. They’ll be in perfect condition Thursday.

3 Days Before

Do your big grocery run, including picking up your turkey. Make your brine and get the turkey into a brining bag, in the fridge. Make the cranberry sauce, put it in the dish you’ll be serving it in, and cover it with saran wrap in the fridge. It’s ready to go. Make your salad dressing today too and have that ready to go in its serving vessel.

2 Days Before

At last, the pumpkin cheesecake can be made today. Leave it in its springform pan with saran wrap overtop and put it in the fridge. Boil the sweet potatoes and make the filling for the sweet potato casserole. Add that to another springform pan and cover with the saran wrap. We’ll make the topping later.

1 Day Before

Make the yeast rolls today, since it is very time-consuming, and place them in the fridge overnight. They’ll warm up nicely on Thanksgiving. During all those yeast rising times, make the crumble topping for the sweet potato casserole and store it in a separate bag, in the refrigerator, so it doesn’t get soggy.

Now, for all the prep work. Chop up the stuffing veggies and keep them in a container in the fridge, the veggies for the broth as well (if you’re making it homemade.) Chop up everything for the roasted veggies and keep them in a container in the fridge. At the end of the night, set the table, take the cookies out of the freezer and set them out to thaw, then peel and chop the potatoes and place them in a large pot of water on the stove. Do this last and they will keep until you cook them in the morning.

**Tip: Make sure the stove and oven are turned off for this final step. Don’t make the mistake I made 3 years ago and have half-cooked, rotten potatoes in the morning.

Thanksgiving Day

Depending on what time your dinner is, count back the hours to figure out when to put your turkey in. Here’s a great calculator to figure that out! Our dinner is at 4:30 and we’re aiming to take the turkey out to rest at 3:30. Since it takes 4 hours (approx) to cook, I want it to go in the oven at 11:30am. Based on that information, here’s the schedule.

8:30am – Make the stuffing. Only leave out the stock, since we’re making that next. Put the stuffing in a dish in the fridge for now.

9am – Make the stock.

10:45am – Take the stuffing out of the fridge and use the stock you just finished making to moisten the stuffing, according to the directions.

11:00am – Take the turkey out of the brine, rinse it, pat it dry (including the cavity) and loosely fill it with stuffing. Take about a tablespoon of herbs (thyme, sage, & rosemary) and rub them under the turkey skin. Brush olive oil all over the outside of the turkey, “truss” it (tie the legs together.) Stick an oven-safe thermometer in the turkey if you have one (I have this Martha Stewart one that beeps when it reaches the desired temperature. Those pop-up ones already in the turkey don’t always work!) and set the goal temp to 165 degrees.

11:30am – Now, put the turkey in the oven. At this point, take the rolls out of the fridge and let them come to room temp on the countertop. Assemble the salad, place saran wrap overtop, and set it in the fridge so it’s 100% ready.

12pm – It’s time to get ready!! Don’t put this off – remember the wet hair? 

1:00pm – Take this final hour to run the dishes, clean up any messes, and put everything on the table that you can – cranberry sauce, serving spoons, etc. Now pour yourself a wine – 2:00 is the new 5:00 during the holidays. Haven’t you heard?

2:00pm Make the mashed potatoes. When finished, transfer them to a crockpot that’s coated with olive oil and a splash of almond milk, on the coolest setting (whether that’s low or warm on yours.) Make sure to stir it every half hour and if it gets too hot, turn it off for a while – it holds the heat well and you don’t want to burn them. Add a splash of almond milk or olive oil throughout the process as needed. 

3pm – Take the sweet potato pie filling out of the fridge, pour the topping over it, and set it on the counter to come to room temp. Prepare the Balsamic Roasted Vegetables and lay them out on baking sheet(s) on the counter. 

3:30pm – Take the turkey out of the oven, scoop the stuffing out into a baking dish (if it hasn’t reached 165 degrees yet) and place the stuffing into the oven with the thermometer in it. Tent the turkey with foil and let it rest. Place the baking sheet of roasted veggies into the oven, along with the sweet potato casserole. Make sure you’re using pans & dishes that fit next to each other, 2 to each rack.

4pm – Place the rolls in a dish, cover them with foil, and place in the oven, squeezed onto a rack next to something else, for 10 minutes.

4:10pm – Pull the roasted veggies, rolls, sweet potato pie, and stuffing (if you haven’t already) out of the oven, place in serving dishes, covered, and set them on the table. Have someone else move the turkey and start carving it while you make the gravy.

4:20pm – Bring everything to the table that isn’t already there – don’t forget the salad!

4:30pm – Pour that second (or hey, maybe third!) glass of wine and take a deep breath. Happy Thanksgiving!

About Kristinhttp://haveashnick.comWelcome to Hangry Tales. Kick your feet up and stay for a while. :)

2 thoughts on “How to Host a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Part II – The Prep Schedule!

  1. Pingback: The Fluffiest Yeast Rolls {Dairy Free!} | Hangry Tales

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s