Two weeks in advance
- Finalize the menu and make a shopping list.
(Thursday, November 11 — 15 minutes)
As you pin down your final menu, make a master shopping list. You can sort the list into two categories — non-perishable items you can pick up between now and Thanksgiving and perishable items you should pick up a day or two in advance.
- Make sure you have enough seating, serving bowls, utensils, etc.
(Friday, November 12 — 15 minutes)
While you're waiting for dinner to cook, scrounge around your cupboards. Do you have enough serving dishes to plate your Thanksgiving dinner? Are there ladles, tongs, and serving forks to match up with the foods you're serving?
Make a list of any items you still need (including an extra card table or folding chairs!). You'll use the list tomorrow.
- Confirm your guest list.
(Saturday, November 13 — 5 minutes)
Send a quick e-mail this morning to confirm your guest list. You'll want to include four things in your e-mail: 1) remind folks when they should arrive on Thanksgiving day. 2) Include a list of "assignments" if people have volunteered to bring part of the meal with them. 3) Using the list you created yesterday (of items you need to borrow in order to serve dinner), ask your guests if anyone has the platters, chairs, or utensils you need. 4) Instruct your guests to RSVP and confirm whether they are still bringing the dish they were assigned. Also, ask guests to let you know if they can bring the serving items you still need.
- Confirm any outside orders.
(Saturday, November 13 — 10 minutes)
If you're ordering pastries, floral arrangements, or other goodies for your Thanksgiving dinner, spend 10 minutes calling the various vendors to make sure that you're order was received and will be ready to go in time for the holiday.
- Gather decorations.
(Sunday, November 14 through Wednesday, November 17 — Less than 15 minutes/day)
Spend 15 minutes on Sunday gathering your tablecloths, holiday decor, and centerpieces. For each of the next few days spend a few minutes tossing linens in the wash, dusting off decorations, and prepping centerpieces.
- Arrange seating.
(Thursday, November 18 — 15 minutes)
If dinner at your place is a less-than-formal affair, you can skip this step (and tomorrow's step, too)! If you want to have a pre-planned a seating arrangement, however, spend 15 minutes today to figure that out.
- Create place cards.
(Friday, November 19 — 15 minutes)
If you're planning on a seating arrangement, spend 15 minutes today creating your place cards. For instant inspiration, check out 5 easy DIY place card ideas.
- Freeze food.
(Saturday and Sunday, November 20 and 21 — 15 minutes/day)
Breads, pie crusts, many casseroles, and even stuffing can be made in advance and frozen to save prep time on Thanksgiving day. While the baking and cooking of these items undoubtedly takes longer than 15 minutes, prepping them for the freezer does not. Spend a half hour this weekend filling up the freezer.
- Clean the living room.
(Monday, November 22 — 15 minutes)
Don't think you can clean the living room that quickly? Follow our instructions for a party-perfect living room in 15 minutes. Then, make sure the rest of your family members pick up after themselves until dinner is served on Thursday.
- Clean the bathroom.
(Tuesday, November 23 — 15 minutes)
You know the drill — get another room clean and keep it that way. Handy hints for 15 minutes worth of cleaning can be found here.
- Empty the refrigerator and restock.
(Wednesday, November 24 — 10 minutes)
Spend 10 minutes this morning clearing out the fridge to make room for Thanksgiving food. Then, refill the refrigerator with any drinks or condiments that need to be chilled when served tomorrow.
- Make a mental run-through.
(Wednesday, November 24 — 5 minutes)
After the fridge is clean, take five minutes to run through the list of things that still need to be done. At this point, your list should be mostly whittled down to cooking and setting the table!
- Last-minute shopping.
(Thursday, November 25 — 15 minutes)
With the list you prepared two weeks ago, pop into the grocery store (go as soon as they open, if you want to keep this trip under 15 minutes!) and grab the last of the perishables you need for today's dinner.
- Give thanks and enjoy!