Thanksgiving Schedule: What to Do and When

Thanksgiving Schedule: What to Do and When

Publish Date September 15, 2023 3 Minute Read

It’s not as easy to make meaningful memories when you’re rushing around finishing the decorations and whipping up last-minute dishes. This year, keep the hustle and bustle of the holiday manageable with a handy Thanksgiving schedule that’ll keep everything running smoothly.

Thanksgiving Prep Schedule

Thanksgiving Schedule: 3 Weeks to a Perfectly Planned Celebration

Make the Guest List:

Tally up your total number of expected guests so you can get an idea of how much food you’ll need to prepare. This will also give you an idea of how many table settings you should have.

Plan Your Thanksgiving Menu:

Create a shopping list, then divide items into those you can buy now, like pantry staples and cooking tools, and items you’ll need to buy closer to Thanksgiving, such as fresh produce, whipping cream or bakery items. We put together a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu to help start your planning.

Shop Thanksgiving Pantry Staples

Thanksgiving Décor & More:

If you’ll be using a tablecloth, does it need ironing? Will you need a centerpiece from our Floral Department? Do you have enough candles, napkins, kitchen utensils or serveware? Make sure you have any and all essential décor and accessories.

Thanksgiving Timeline

2 Weeks Before Thanksgiving

Choose Your Turkey:

Grab a fresh or frozen turkey from the Meat Department. You’ll need about 1 pound per person, or 1½ pounds if you want leftovers. Keep in mind that a frozen turkey will need to thaw for at least 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of meat. This means a 20-pound turkey will take 4 days to thaw.

Gather Thanksgiving Recipes:

In addition to finding the perfect turkey recipe, you’ll also want to plan out your sides. Whether it’s skin-on mashed potatoes, a slow cooker green bean casserole or flaky buttermilk biscuits (or all of them!), you’ll want to review the directions, double-check that you have the necessary ingredients and add anything you still need to a shopping list. We have you covered on all types of Thanksgiving recipes.

Start Shopping:

Start stocking up on nonperishable items, baking ingredients and beverages. This is a great time to grab items such as candles, décor, kitchenware, paper towels, foil, storage bags and containers for leftovers. Save even more time by placing an order for delivery or pickup.

Prep Make-Ahead Dishes:

Consider making and freezing pie dough, breads or rolls, and casseroles. You can even make cranberry sauce ahead of time since it stays fresh in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Thanksgiving Prep

The Week of Thanksgiving

Clean and Tackle Errands:

When the Thanksgiving countdown is on, you don’t want to leave cleaning until the last minute. A few days before the holiday, tidy up around the house and run any nongrocery errands.

Prep Fresh and Frozen Items:

Shop for fresh produce. To save time down the road, take this opportunity to peel and chop any veggies and fresh herbs. You can keep them stored in airtight plastic bags in your fridge’s crisper. This is also a great time to make any homemade salad dressings, sauces, or fresh pie dough. If you have pie dough or casseroles in the freezer, transfer them to the fridge to defrost.

Shop Fresh Thanksgiving Ingredients


If you haven’t already set up your seasonal decorations, bring them out now. To finish your Thanksgiving table décor, grab a pre-made centerpiece or fresh flowers from our Floral Department. For alternative Thanksgiving centerpieces, try arranging candleholders, multi-colored gourds, bowls of fruit or cornucopias to your table.

Thanksgiving Planner

1 Day Before Thanksgiving

Begin Prep:

Begin your turkey preparation. Whether you’re using a wet or dry brine to flavor your turkey, doing it the night before gives the herbs and spices time to infuse into the meat. Check out our Turkey Tips for more helpful seasoning and cooking info. It’s also a great time to start prepping other dishes as well. If you haven’t already, consider baking pies, cooking the stuffing or mashing your potatoes.

Set the Table:

Finish your Thanksgiving table setting. Whether you still need to place your flowers or find the right runner, it’s easier to set the mood before guests start to arrive. At this point, your tablescape should include the necessary decorations and you should have plates for every guest. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, learn how to set a table from our experts.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Day

Cook the Turkey:

Since the turkey needs to rest after cooking, you’ll want to put it in the oven so it’ll be done about a half an hour before you plan to eat. We’ve gathered our top turkey tips to share for cooking your turkey. While the turkey cooks, prep anything else that still needs to be done. Once the meat is ready, warm up the side dishes, make the gravy and carve the turkey.

Now that you have the perfect Thanksgiving plan in place, it’s time to gobble up menu inspiration, décor and more at our Thanksgiving Shop!