Planning Thanksgiving Dinner

Are you hosting Thanksgiving at your home this year?  If so, you’ll want to start planning for this special day.  We’re here to help, with some easy steps to follow, a guest tracker and sample menu.  So let’s get planning.

What is Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving is a holiday held on the 4th Thursday in November in the United States.  It is a day to gather with family and friends and give thanks for what we have, in particular the plentiful harvest at this time of year.

Thankgsiving Dinner Table

Planning Your Thanksgiving Meal

Step 1:  Set the date, time and location.

For this example, we will invite our guests to arrive at 11:45 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.  Some larger families may choose to hold this event later in the day or on another day over the long weekend.

Note: We know that some guests will arrive a little earlier, and some will run late. Therefore, we expect the overall arrive time between 11:30 – 12:00.

Our social hour is planned for 11:30 – 12:30.  We will plan to sit down to eat at 12:30.

Step 2:  Plan the menu.

Fill out the Thanksgiving Day Menu to determine what you would like to serve.  Ours will be a traditional meal, with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and butternut squash.

Be sure to check out our Thanksgiving Dinner Planner.  You can view a sample menu below.  Just click on the link to open and print.

Thanksgiving Dinner Sample Menu

Thanksgiving Dinner – Sample Menu

We’ve also included a blank printable page so that you can fill out one for your dinner:

Thanksgiving Dinner Blank Menu Planner

Thanksgiving Dinner – Blank Menu

Step 3:  Invite Guests and track RSVPs

Use our printable guest tracker to make sure you’ve included everyone.  Be sure to keep a phone number or email address handy, in case you need to contact them.

Guest Tracker

Guest Tracker

Since this is a large event, be prepared for people to offer to bring a dish.  Lots of hands make for an easy day, so allow your guests to bring a dish.  You can ask guests to bring something from your menu, or just add the dish to your planner.  We usually add their dish to our Thanksgiving Dinner Planner, and write their name in parenthesis.

For example:  Pumpkin Pie (Mom)             Centerpiece (Aunt Jane)

Step 4:  Clean home and set up for Thanksgiving

Do as much cleaning as you can ahead of time.  It’s great if you can vacuum, dust, mop the floors, and finish your laundry earlier that week.

You’ll want to reserve the 2-3 days before Thanksgiving to complete your grocery shopping, decorate, and prepare the food.

 Step 5: Shop for supplies

Some of the non-perishable or frozen items can be purchased ahead of time.  We usually buy our fresh turkey the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Plan to do your grocery shopping two days before Thanksgiving, so that the fruit and vegetables are fresh.

We’ve included a Thanksgiving Day Grocery Shopping List to help you with this large task.  It’s organized by department to make shopping easier and more efficient.

Thanksgiving Grocery List

Thanksgiving Grocery List

Step 6: Cooking Timeline

Lastly, you will want to set up a tentative cooking schedule.  Thanksgiving dinner requires quite a bit of coordination.  You’ll want to make sure the turkey is cooked, and the mashed potatoes are hot.  Here’s our Sample Cooking Timeline:

Thanksgiving Sample Cooking Timeline

Thanksgiving Sample Cooking Timeline

We hope that our menus, guest tracker and cooking timeline help you host a fantastic Thanksgiving Dinner.

You may find the following article from our website helpful:

printable grocery list by department

Grocery Shopping List by Department

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