Thanksgiving Countdown - 2017 (All Plans)

Discussion in 'Thanksgiving Countdown' started by AuntJamelle, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    Believe it or now, Thanksgiving is less than a month away for our Canadian members! It falls on Monday, October 9th!

    For the rest of us that celebrate on Thursday, November 23rd we have a bit more time.

    So in the spirit of getting our mental wheels turning and maybe some fun conversation going here is a rough stab at a week by week countdown up to "Turkey Day" :)

    Share what you do, what you don't, if you are hosting or attending this year and so on. We'll break out into mini discussions on some of the points in the countdown like menu, cooking schedules or tablescapes, etc.


    4 Weeks Prior

    Finalize your menu, remembering to account for any special dietary needs of guests.

    Invite your guests. If the dishes will be shared, keep track of who is bringing what. Ask them if they will need oven space and if so for how long? Will they bring own serving dishes?

    Update Master Holiday Grocery List with list of perishables and nonperishables. Don’t forget beverages and ice! Plan to purchase some of the non perishables each week.

    Update Master Holiday Shopping List with paper goods, disposable containers for leftovers (i.e. foil pans, etc.) film, batteries, etc. as needed.

    If you are ordering a fresh turkey, do it now.

    Make a Thanksgiving to-do list, listing all the little things you feel must get done prior to Thanksgiving. Use printed calendar pages or a calendar app of choice to schedule time for each chore.

    Decide which china, glassware, and table linens you'll use.

    If tablecloths and napkins need to be cleaned or ironed, do it now.

    Once table settings have been decided, order a floral centerpiece or make plans to create your own.

    Three Weeks Ahead

    Finalize plans for decorations, place cards, and wreaths. Purchase items for these as needed.

    Put up Thanksgiving decor.

    Two Weeks Ahead

    Confirm you have enough tables and chairs for your guests. Borrow or rent as needed.

    Check all serving dishes, flatware, and glassware.

    Polish silver (as needed)

    Clean out the refrigerator to make room for Thanksgiving items.

    Finish purchasing nonperishable groceries on your shopping list.

    Decide which recipes go with which serving dishes and silverware. Drop 3x5 cards or sticky notes into each bowl and platter indicating what goes where.

    One Week Ahead

    Plan seating arrangements (if needed, i.e. will you need a children’s table?)

    Review your recipes and prepare a cooking schedule by day for the days ahead, and by the hour for the day before Thanksgiving and the day of.

    Check thawing time for frozen turkey.

    Prepare guest room with fresh sheets, etc. (if needed)

    Take a look at your front door/porch area - need a quick spruce up? Door glass need cleaning?

    Will you need a high chair, crib, or booster seat? Bring them out and clean, or arrange to borrow.

    Plan activities to keep kids busy (if attending)

    Four Days Ahead

    Begin defrosting the frozen turkey in your refrigerator (unless larger turkey then you may have started sooner)

    Identify any areas that need more than maintenance attention when it comes to housecleaning. Hopefully you are keeping up with either HHP or HGP or just your normal routine. If things have gotten away from you, do some work on it now so right before the big day you have light housecleaning only.

    Two to Three Days Ahead

    Chill beverages.

    Shop for perishable items.

    Set out bread for homemade stuffing to dry.

    Fill salt and pepper shakers and butter dishes.

    Maintain housecleaning.

    Set the table as completely as possible (omit taller items like taper candles and possibly your centerpiece then cover entire table with a sheet to keep dust off)

    One Day Ahead

    If using fresh flowers in decorating, pick them up today - be sure to put freshener agent in the water

    Make anything that can be made ahead! Or do any pre-measuring or other prep possible! Refer to your cooking schedule! Potatoes can be peeled and kept in cold water overnight. Vegetables can be cleaned, etc.

    Spot clean bathrooms. Confirm they are stocked with extra paper goods and hand towels.

    Do spot cleaning of the rooms that will be used including final vacuuming.

    Set the table (if not already done)

    Get out all serving pieces. Set out in order on a counter or buffet table.

    Setup area for coffee, desserts and drinks. Stock with silverware, sugar, creamer, cups, etc.

    Check on the defrosting turkey! If not defrosted yet, update your cooking schedule to account for water bath defrost time!

    The Big Day

    Take a deep breath and review your cooking schedule first thing in the morning!

    Uncover table, finish setting completely.

    Prep your turkey per chosen recipe directions.

    Finish all food prep per your cooking schedule.

    Shower, get dressed!

    Pour drinks for guests as they arrive!


    Clean Up

    Put away leftover food. Divy up leftovers into containers for guests to take home. Refrigerate everything.

    Wash any serving pieces belonging to guests.

    Collapse! Or go outside and play football! Your choice!
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
    Minta likes this.
  2. Minta

    Minta Administrator Staff Member

    I currently have 2 smaller turkeys in my garage freezer now. They were marked down really cheap after the holidays. I am thinking about roasting one next month .. so I can make turkey stock from the bones and freeze it to use for Thanksgiving.

    We host every year for Thanksgiving and I am hoping this year will be having more extended family join us. Still in the planning stages. The menu is pretty much the same every year. The local grocery store has a 2 week ale in the beginning of Nov where you get a free turkey with an in-store coupons if you spend $100 or more. That's when I will get my turkey and I always get the biggest one I can find. My mom usually gets a free one to that we stick on our garage freezer to cook later in winter.

    I do want to get a new table cloth for this year so I will be getting that soon.

    I always do a top to bottom house cleaning the weekend before Thanksgiving and then spot clean the day before. The pies, cranberry sauce and pepperoni bread will be made the day before and then I will chop up veggies for the stuffing the night before.
  3. Ahorsesoul

    Ahorsesoul Santa's Elves

    I want to make a turkey cake this next week. Not a dessert but ground turkey baked in a cake pan and frosted with masked potatoes/gravy and topped with mashed sweet potatoes. It is really good.

    There are several recipes online. Today I saw one that had a layer of cornbread. I will have to decided which one to make or combine them all.
    Minta likes this.
  4. Minta

    Minta Administrator Staff Member

    Sounds good , let us know how it turned out.
  5. HouseElf

    HouseElf Well-Known Member

    Your turkey cake sounds great - I will have to look it up on Pinterest :)

    Yes Thanksgiving for us Canadians is FAST approaching! We are not planning on traveling this holiday - just us five at home. Dinner plans are pretty much set in stone lol I have tried to change them up previous years and was met with firm resistance! Lesson learned.

    Looking 'forward' to trying to make pies again this year - my lack of ability in this endeavor has also become a tradition!
  6. Miss JoDee

    Miss JoDee Well-Known Member

    Making pie is usually a failure for me. Mom always made the pies and my sister and I can't do it. I can do the fillings because mom would have me make them. It is the pie crust that is so challenging. Baker's Square makes really good pies to order. :p
  7. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    This list looks good! I like your defrosting the turkey countdown too. Those things can take forever to defrost if you forget.

    I host our immediate family and then offer to my brother, parents and Canadian friends if they'd like to join us. It varies each year as to who accepts our offer.

    If we have guests then I don't have as much food to cook but if it is just the seven of us, then I am doing all the cooking. Since it usually is just us and my children are in school, I make many of my side dishes up in the beginning of November and freeze them. There is just no way I could make it all on Thanksgiving Day. I double the recipes so we had extra for New Year's Dinner but with growing children who are mostly teens now, that doesn't work anymore. If time permits, then I'll make a pumpkin pie but usually it ends up being store bought.

    I'm thinking about cooking the turkey on Wednesday this year. It would make Thursday more relaxing if the turkey was already carved and the mess was cleaned up before I have to start putting the side dishes in the oven.
  8. Miss JoDee

    Miss JoDee Well-Known Member

    Cooking the turkey Wednesday really does make things easier. I did it last year and it was a winnner. I saved the broth to make gravy on Thursday.
    Holiday_Mom likes this.
  9. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    It's just about three weeks until Thanksgiving! <Gulp> :eek: I need to make and freeze four side dishes up ahead of time. There are a few items that still need to get before I can start cooking.

    I've got to rethink my plans for the two days before Thanksgiving this year. My husband is on call Thanksgiving Day so I want to cook the turkey for sure ahead of time. My oldest is in her first year of college and it's my first go around with juggling picking her up before the college closes for the weekend with Thanksgiving preparation on my end. I'm hoping I can still cook the turkey on Wednesday.
  10. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    You are right to start planning now, Mary! Juggling is RIGHT!

    What side dishes are you planning? Are you comfortable with what you can make/prep ahead? I'm also curious, if you make the turkey ahead how do you handle cooling, storing and reheating for serving?
  11. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    The typical side dishes that I make are: mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, creamed spinach and a sausage stuffing.

    I went through my Thanksgiving Day notes and see that I've given myself a deadline in the past. If I don't get to the creamed spinach and sweet potatoes by Nov. 15th, then I plan to buy the frozen Bird's Eye Creamed Spinach and use the canned Yams. (I use to run an auction that was the weekend before Thanksgiving and it would be so hectic here. I crashed until the day before Thanksgiving. That's how freezing the side dishes all started.)

    Hmm... I'm thinking that I'll let the turkey cool on the counter and then cut the meat off the bones. The turkey breast will go in a Corning Ware dish to cool. The dark meat will go into another dish to cool. Then I'll put it into quart size freezer bags and freeze it for other meals in the future. I will make gravy and with the pan drippings and pour that onto the turkey breast.

    On Thanksgiving day, I'll heat the Heinz turkey gravy in the crock pot. When that gets hot enough, I'll add the turkey breast. I'm thinking about taking the turkey breast out of the refrigerator right before heating the Heinz gravy to bring the meat closer to room temperature. Maybe the turkey breast won't take as long to heat up.
  12. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you have a plan!!! Let us know how the reheating goes - I can definitely see the attraction of getting the turkey out of the way ahead of time!!!
    Holiday_Mom likes this.
  13. Lolwlias

    Lolwlias Active Member

    My table centerpiece is where I sometimes struggle. I don't want to repeat the same thing year after year. One year (2012) I had everyone write on a leaf what they were thankful for. I bought some leaves, & we will do that again this year.
    I use paper plates. Washing dishes half the day is not my idea of a good time. We will play a game to have some relaxing together time. I also want to dedicate something special to Dougie. He loved the holidays & usually hosted a big family Thanksgiving that we have attended many years. It will be the first one without him.
    I look forward to more posts on this thread.
    Holiday_Mom likes this.
  14. missjane

    missjane Well-Known Member

    DDIL and I talked today about Thanksgiving. I think it will be at her and DS's house this year. Her brother won't be home this year due to work, so her mom and dad will be joining us. Our home isn't large enough for everyone. We'll have to meet later about the menu. I'll probably make most of the side dishes and DS will cook the meat. We'll probably purchase most of the meat, too. DDIL's dad had a stroke about 5 years ago and doesn't work, so they're on an extremely limited income. DDIL's mom doesn't cook much, except from a box. After DDIL married DS, she said she didn't know there was such a thing as food that was good. She just thought you ate to stay alive! :eek: I think we're going to celebrate Thanksgiving on Wednesday because that is the day that will work best for DD24. DDIL said whatever day is fine with her. We did it on Wednesday last year, and it worked really well.
    Holiday_Mom likes this.
  15. goodpace

    goodpace Member

    Starting to think about Thanksgiving a little bit. Just the 3 of us so not a big thing to prepare for. I think I will cook the turkey on Wednesday tho' to leave the oven free for pies cakes sides etc. We got the free turkey frozen last week from the store for our shopping points. Have to check his size to see when I should thaw him out.
  16. Holiday_Mom

    Holiday_Mom Well-Known Member

    Remembering to take out the turkey to thaw in time is often a problem for me. It always needs more than two days of defrosting in the refrigerator for me. I have to set up reminders on my calendar. :oops:
  17. goodpace

    goodpace Member

    Yep got my countdown reminder (Pinterest I think) taped up near the stove area to remind me what to do each day. Just checked on him he's a big boy so thawing is happening Monday I'd say. Also check both "ends " for the innards bag...I can't tell you how many times I've gotten a bag cooked in there. One time I even got a double bag! I cook my dressing/stuffing outside the bird so I don't always check the inside that thoroughly LOL! :eek:
  18. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    You are cracking me up, Yvonne! Been there!

    We're going to family, not hosting, this year so my stress level is lower! We are cooking our own little Thanksgiving spread on Sunday however, so our little turkey is going in the fridge to start thawing tonight!
  19. AuntJamelle

    AuntJamelle Well-Known Member

    I'm bringing Deviled Eggs to Thanksgiving this year - among other things - and I googled how far ahead I can cook and peel the eggs. From what I found the hard boiled and peeled eggs will keep in the fridge for at least a few days, just need to be in sealed container, covered with water that is changed daily. So I'm going to cook and peel the eggs tonight.

    Tonight I will also prepare the cheesecake pan, get out the items needed for the water bath and make the crust before putting pan back in fridge overnight.

    Tomorrow night I will be making the cheesecake, maybe making up filling for deviled eggs (minus the egg yolks and cream) and definitely assembling the Herb Cream Cheese Crescents before putting back in fridge unbaked.

    Then on Thanksgiving morning I will plate the cheesecake and finish making the deviled eggs. I'll also mix up the artichoke dip and get that going in the small crockpot.

    Will be running to the store after work tonight to get a few last minute items. Took the turkey for our meal on Sunday out of the freezer this morning.
  20. luludou

    luludou Well-Known Member

    AJ I cook my hard boiled eggs and keep them easily up to 5 days in the fridge.

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