Thanksgiving Planner

The Less Stress Thanksgiving Planner


Let’s face it, the holidays and Thanksgiving especially can be incredibly stressful. Besides just not celebrating at all (how boring would that be?), there’s not a whole you can do to eliminate all the stress. However, you can create a less stressful Thanksgiving plan to ensure you minimize your stress and maximize your enjoyment of the holidays. Get ready for that stress-free Thanksgiving


How to Plan for Thanksgiving

The key here to minimize your Thanksgiving planning stress is to plan early. Procrastination is not good for your health or your plans. You definitely don’t want to do all your Thanksgiving shopping the day before as the crowds will be thick and some items might be out of stock.

This year, consider hosting a Thanksgiving potluck dinner. The first Thanksgiving was indeed a potluck celebration as both Indians and Pilgrims came together with homemade dishes. So this year, ask your guests to help by bringing an appetizer, a dessert or special beverage for the occasion. This is an easy way to knock off some stress.

One of the biggest Thanksgiving stresses is the main course, the turkey. Forget to thaw it? There’s a solution for that! Want the most moist turkey you’ve tasted? Try a brine bag. Always be sure you have a meat thermometer on hand and continually baste the bird. And of course, the latest trend is to do an insta-pot turkey. It can be done!

Let’s Get to the Planner!


  • Deep clean your carpets if necessary.
  • Start gathering extra furniture if needed (asking friends, family or getting a rental company).
  • Decide on self serve or sit down meal.
  • Invite guests and keep track of RSVPs.
  • Be prepared for any children making an appearance (having juice, toys, or a child’s table prepared).
  • If guests are arriving out of town or showing up early, consider making an easy breakfast to serve.
  • Draft your menu items and create your shopping list.
  • Prepare and design your tablescape.


  • Confirm RSVPs and contact people who have not responded
  • Finalize all menu items and store lists.
  • Wash tablecloths, spruce up your dishes, serving platter and all other utensils.


  • Start buying all non-perishable recipe ingredients, grocery items and beverages.
  • It’s almost go time!


  • Place the frozen turkey in the refrigerator to begin thawing.
  • Buy all remaining ingredients (perishable and remaining non-perishable) for your menu, including all beverages.
  • Clean your home and set up bedrooms if you are hosting overnight guests.


  • Revisit your shopping to ensure you grabbed everything.
  • Make the desserts.
  • Clean your powder room, vacuum and dust any rooms where most of your guests will be congregating.


  • Make or prepare appetizers, cover, and store them in a second refrigerator, if you have one.
  • Wash and cut up vegetables you’ll be using for stuffing and side dishes. Also, prepare make-ahead side dishes.
  • Remove extraneous small appliances and kitchen items from your countertops to make extra space.
  • Set up tables and chairs.


  • Decorate and set everything else up. Ask for help.
  • Have someone bring ice.
  • Chill the beverages over ice if your refrigerator space is filling up fast.
  • Set the table.
  • Make the stuffing and stuff the turkey, if applicable.
  • Make the potatoes.
  • Place turkey in the oven according to package or recipe directions.
  • Make the turkey gravy from pan drippings if you are making your own gravy.

What NOT To Do

  • Don’t forget to have containers ready for leftovers. Have a variety and make sure you have some that can go home with guests if you wish to share.
  • Don’t forget to put all your food away after dinner is over. Turkey definitely makes you sleepy, so get stuff put away so you can take a snooze.
  • Don’t forget to break out the board games after dinner. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to end after the food. Share in a family-friendly competition and keep the memories piling up.
  • Don’t forget to take a break.
  • Don’t forget, this is just one day. You will survive and you will make a wonderful dinner for all to enjoy.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help setting up, cooking, cleaning up afterward. The host should not have to manage every single aspect of the dinner. Your closest family members will not mind helping a gracious host. Smile and have a wonderful stress-free Thanksgiving!