Thanksgiving Organizer



Minimize Entertaining Stress With This Checklist


Lea SchneiderAuthor Lea Schneider, a columnist for What’s Cooking America, is a freelance writer and organizational expert whose organizing ideas have been published in many magazines including Woman’s Day, Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen and Bath Ideas, Family Circle, Parents Magazine, as well as numerous newspapers and websites.  She is a member of the Association of Food Journalists.

Getting organized is all about living simpler and making things easier.  The bonus is it often leads to saving money.  Lea Schneider’s kitchen organizing columns tell you how to organize the many things that relate to kitchens, menus, meals, and special food events.

Check out all of Lea Schneider’s helpful home and kitchen columns at Organizing Kitchens, Pantries, Menus and Meals.



First Week of November:

Issue Invites:  If you have not already done so, it is time to make those phone calls.  People feel more welcomed and comfortable if plans are made ahead.  No one wants to feel like a last minute guest.


Make your menu:  Pull out your cookbooks and recipe files.  Create your menu.  If you are having guests bring a dish, you might want to do this before you call them.  That way, when they ask what to bring, you will be prepared.


Think ahead:  Note on your menu which dishes can be prepared ahead and frozen.  These often include casseroles, the stuffing, and cakes without the frosting or other desserts.  Pull out your calendar and divide those make-ahead dishes up among the next three weeks.


Go Gobble:  If you traditionally call ahead to order a turkey, pie or other food item, pick up the phone and do it now.


Second Week of November:

Count heads and seats:  You should now have a head count.  Figure out where everyone will sit.  Decide if you need to arrange to borrow or rent chairs or tables.


Check Linens:  Do you need to wash or press tablecloths or napkins?  Once pressed, fold the table cloth horizontally to fit on a hanger and store it hanging until you set the table.


Shine Silver:  You might not have had out that silver all summer.  Check now to see what items need polishing.  If you have dishes stored away, like that turkey platter, take the time to get them out now and make sure they are clean.


Plan the Centerpiece:  Decide now what you will put on the middle of the table(s).  If you intend to order from a florist, do so.  If you plan to pick up flowers, fruit, pumpkins or gourds and make your own, choose your containers.  Add a note to your menu so that you will remember to shop for those items.


Third Week of November:

Grocery List:  Take your menu and create a grocery list.  Do not forget to add beverages to your list.  If you are having company at your house for the holiday, take time to make a menu for those other meals and add those items to the list.


Cooking List:  Take your menu and create a food-time cooking list.  On your paper, list each dish, the temperature it needs to bake, and the length of time it needs to cook.  Decide what time you want to serve dinner.  Based on that, you can now list on the paper what time of day each dish should go into the oven or on to the stove.


Thanksgiving Week:

Saturday through Monday:

Grocery Shop

Pick up turkey or ordered items that are ready.

Pick up tables and chairs

Clean house

If the turkey is frozen, look at the weight and label instructions so that you can note when it needs to begin to thaw.



Set tables, if possible.  If not gather together everything you do need.

Get out food serving or buffet dishes.  Use a sticky-note to label each dish.  This will make it easier to get the food out and to make sure you have everything you need.

Do any food preparation that can be done ahead, such as chopping celery or onions.



Work on dishes or prep work that you can do ahead.

Pick up last minute food items, such as that ordered pie.

This is a great day for dinner to be a big pot of soup in the Crock-Pot!

Finish setting tables for tomorrow.  Add centerpieces.

Tidy up and do last minute chores.

Review your food-time list for tomorrow.


Thanksgiving Day

Give Thanks.

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