While some home cooks have years of experience preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, I however, do not. I already did my grocery shopping and chose my 20lb Turkey for twelve guests. However, because I was a little overwhelmed with all of the days feastivities, I decided to check in with Williams Sonoma to see what kind of advice they could offer! Williams Sonoma compiled this timeline to help you plan and prepare your feast. Their tried-and-true timeline has helped many a Thanksgiving cooks over the years, so here is to hoping that it will guide me.
They recommend that you begin planning and shopping a week or two in advance. I however did my shopping lastnight. Oopsies! Apparently, you will be better able to relax and enjoy the pleasures of cooking for family and friends. I will have to fill you in on that later, because for some reason I feel like I will end up with mashed potatoes in my hair before it is all said and done! - Happy Roasting, Nicole
A Few Days Before Thanksgiving
- Finalize your shopping lists.
- Shop for staples, produce and other fresh foods.
- Prepare any food that can be made in advance, such as pie pastry and cranberry sauce.
- If you purchased a frozen turkey, begin thawing it out in the refrigerator.
- If you plan to brine the turkey, prepare the brine but do not add the turkey; cover and refrigerate.
The Day Before Thanksgiving
- If you ordered a fresh turkey, pick it up or have it delivered.
- If you are going to brine the turkey, place it in the brine and refrigerate.
- Complete your food shopping.
- Make turkey stock for gravy and dressing.
- Chop ingredients for the dressing, such as onions and celery; refrigerate in covered bowls or plastic bags.
- Chop the herbs for various dishes; refrigerate in covered bowls or plastic bags.
- Bake the pies and tarts.
- Chill the wines and water.
The Evening Before Thanksgiving
- Cut fresh bread into chunks for the dressing; leave out overnight to dry.
- Set the table.
- Organize the before-dinner drinks.
- Organize the tea and coffee service.
- Determine what time the turkey will go into the oven (see our tip for Roasting the Turkey).
- Organize the serving dishes.
- Get a good night's sleep!
- Have breakfast and organize your day.
- Confirm the time to remove the turkey from the refrigerator and the time to put it in the oven.
- Peel and cut the potatoes; set them in cold water.
4 to 5 Hours Before Dinner
- While the oven preheats, prepare the turkey for roasting.
- Place the turkey in the oven at the determined time.
- Prepare the dressing.
- Check the table setting to make sure all is in order.
1 to 2 Hours Before Dinner
- Cook the potatoes.
- Put the cranberry sauce on the table.
- Serve drinks and hors d'oeuvres to guests.
45 Minutes to 1 Hour Before Dinner
- When the turkey is done, transfer to a warmed platter and cover with aluminum foil.
- Finish preparing the dressing, then bake the dressing and cook or reheat side dishes.
- Make the gravy.
- Mash the potatoes.
- Place the dinner plates in the warm oven.
- Seat your guests, carve the turkey and serve dinner.