How to Host a Stress-Free Thanksgiving, Part 3

And just like that, we are only about two weeks from the big day. It’s madness I tell you!

Like last week, we are going to jump right in and start covering all my planning strategies for two weeks out from Thanksgiving. So if you missed them, you can find the previous posts in the series here:

How to Host a Stress-Free Thanksgiving, Part 1
How to Host a Stress-Free Thanksgiving, Part 2

A series on how to host a stress-free thanksgiving dinner. Part three covers strategies for two weeks from the big day! Like making a general cooking timeline!

Two Weeks Before Turkey Day

Today’s post is going to cover everything that I start to do when we reach the two-week mark.

So let’s dive right in with what I consider the most important part to staying stress-free for the holiday.

1. Make a general timeline for cooking

So what do I mean by this?

– I want you to look at your menu and determine what can be made in advance. This includes even parts of dishes that can be made in advance (like cutting up bread for stuffing).

– Once you’ve identified those dishes / items, make a timeline listing what you will make and when in the weeks / days leading up to the holiday (and likewise, also list what must be made on Thanksgiving day).

I usually do this just in a simple word doc – that way I can edit / play around with things as needed.

A series on how to host a stress-free thanksgiving dinner. Part three covers strategies for two weeks from the big day! Like making a general cooking timeline!

A few tips for your cooking timeline:

– Break up your cooking so that it is manageable with your schedule. Like many people, I can add more things to my schedule for the weekend versus during the week (when I have to schedule smaller items that can be made after work). Luckily, I’ve always had a half-day on the day before Thanksgiving, so I use that time to my advantage as much as possible.

– Add reminders to yourself on the timeline – such as when things need to be thawed out, etc. This is especially important if you are using a frozen turkey!

– I also like to add non-cooking items to my timeline, such as setting the table the day before. It helps me not forget any of those random details!

And because it is SO MUCH EASIER to just show you what I mean, you can view my timeline for this year’s cooking via the link below! (The full menu is listed again at the beginning of the doc so you can see how I’m breaking it up.)

—-> 2015 Thanksgiving General Timeline (it’s just a simple, no frills PDF file)

We’ll get into a timeline for actual Thanksgiving day next week!

A series on how to host a stress-free thanksgiving dinner. Part three covers strategies for two weeks from the big day! Like making a general cooking timeline!

2. Start cooking according to your timeline

This weekend is when I usually start cooking for the holiday.

Anything that can be made and frozen, make now! For me, this usually includes all my homemade rolls, the gravy and if I’m making simple drop-style cookies, I’ll make the cookie dough and freeze in balls (so that they just need to be baked off closer to the holiday).

A series on how to host a stress-free thanksgiving dinner. Part three covers strategies for two weeks from the big day! Like making a general cooking timeline!

3. Plan out your grocery shopping

Clearly I’m a bit of a planner, so I also decide now when I’ll shop for everything. Again, it makes me feel less stressed when I break it up a bit, but do whatever works for you (and what’s needed based off your cooking timeline)!

4. Start getting the house ready

This is especially important for me, as we always have family staying with us for the holiday.

So, I build in time for things like vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms (such fun!), setting up the guest room and extra sleeping areas.

I also like to start clearing out room in my fridge and freezer now (so I have room for all things thanksgiving!).

A series on how to host a stress-free thanksgiving dinner. Part three covers strategies for two weeks from the big day! Like making a general cooking timeline!

PS – Emma says hi. This is her “I don’t care that you are trying to take a picture of the guest room, I’m staying right here in your way, thank you very much” face.

That’s it for today! We’ll cover the day of timeline next week in the final post of the series! Get excited! And happy planning!