Tasty Tuesday: Planning a timeline for Thanksgiving Dinner Festivities

I don’t know very many people who aren’t really, REALLY busy at this time of year. Years ago, I got caught way short on time at Thanksgiving, realizing on Wednesday night that my turkey was still frozen solid in the deep freeze. So….I’ve developed a timeline that helps keep me a little more sane. (I won’t claim to be fully sane, because that is asking a lot!) Some of you are way ahead of me on this, so this post isn’t for you. This post is for you if Thanksgiving dinner is just ONE of the many balls you have up in the air right now. So keep juggling….and do just a little bit at a time!


Here’s my Plan for this week. Obviously, it needs to be tweaked to fit the individual family.


  • Take the turkey out of the freezer and put it into the fridge to defrost slowly
  • Bake the sweet potatoes in the oven until they’re fork tender. Refrigerate them until next week.
  • Make a menu
  • Go shopping
  • Make sure the tablecloth is clean



  • Peel and cook white potatoes. Refrigerate in tightly covered container.
  • Bake fresh pumpkin until fork tender. Clean and process and refrigerate
  • Bake dinner rolls and freeze, tightly wrapped



  • Make green bean casserole. Bake. Refrigerate and reheat Thursday
  • Make apple pie using apple pie kit
  • Make pumpkin pie (yep, I’ll post the recipe for my favorite pumpkin pie next Tuesday. In the meantime, buy a large can of pumpkin so that you have it on hand.)

Thursday AM:

  • Prep turkey for grilling or roasting
  • Cut up veggies for veggie tray
  • Remove dinner rolls from freezer
  • Start cooking turkey on grill

Thursday PM

  • Kids set table
  • Heat garlic mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole in oven
  • Heat green bean casserole in oven
  • Put veggies and dip on tray
  • Put cranberry relish into serving bowl
  • Carve turkey
  • Make gravy
  • Heat dinner rolls
  • Put everything on the table with serving utensils

Eat dinner!!!

  • Clean up leftovers
  • Clean up kitchen
  • Start turkey stock
  • Go for a long walk or take a long nap

Thanksgiving evening:

  • Heat pies
  • Make whipped cream
  • Make coffee
  • Serve dessert

It’s entirely possible that I’ve forgetten steps, so if I think of anything else, I’ll come back and edit this post.  For me, one of the most important steps of planning is shopping. Almost every year, I come up with something critical that I’ve forgotten to buy. Finding stores open on Thanksgiving Day isn’t easy. Writing everything out ahead of time really helps me avoid that last minute panic and dash to the store for whipping cream, candles, and cornstarch.

Perhaps the biggest benefit for me of taking some time NOW to plan for Thanksgiving Dinner is that I really will be free to spend some time reflecting on all the many reasons I have to be VERY thankful!


Good luck!

Barb Kelley.


  1. Barb, this is a great plan to follow or at least adjust for our personal use. Too many times have I gotten caught not planning enough and then I’m worked to pieces all day and can’t enjoy the guests or meal cause I’m exhausted. Can anyone say…PLAN,PLAN, PLAN and save your sanity! Thanks for the help Barb!

  2. Great tips! I need to prepare more ahead of time when I do big dinners. I get so flustered close to dinner time!