Turkey Day Cheat Sheet
You’re basting the turkey, glazing the sweet potatoes, and salting the green beans, and in all of that madness, are expected to fashion a beautiful centerpiece, set the table, and pour everyone a glass (or two) of wine!?
Hosting a Thanksgiving meal is tough, and you practically have to rely on magic to ensure everything goes smoothly. However, making an enjoyable meal is possible with the right arsenal of tools—starting with this guide!
- 1 pound of meat per guest
- Thaw 24 hours per 4 pounds of turkey
- Brine for at least 12 hours
- Baste every 30 minutes
- Internal temperature should be 165°F (measured in the thigh with a meat thermometer)
- 9–11 pounds: 5 hours
- 12–14 pounds: 3 hours
- 15–17 pounds: 5 hours
- 18–20 pounds: 4 hours
Drinks & Desserts
- 1 pie per 8 guests
- 3 glasses of wine per person
- 3 beers per person
- 1 cup of coffee per person
Appetizers & Sides
- 1 cup of stuffing per person
- 1 cup of mashed potatoes/cauliflower per person
- 2 rolls per person
- ½ cup of veggies per person
- 1 cup of cranberry sauce per person
- ¼ cup of gravy per person
- 3 ounces of dip per person
- 1 cup of salad per person
To avoid a major meltdown the day of Thanksgiving, it’s best to have a plan up to a month in advance for what to buy, how far in advance, and when to start readying your home for guests.
3 weeks before
- Finalize your menu and create a shopping list for everything you’ll need to buy in the weeks to come.
- Purchase any nonperishable items, like canned goods, soda, wine, and liquor.
- Gather any supplies you will need for a centerpiece or decorating purposes.
2 weeks before
- Throw away any items in your fridge or freezer that you don’t need to make space for leftovers.
- Prepare and freeze any food items that will keep over the next few weeks, like dinner rolls and stock.
- If you’re making a frozen pie, or even one from scratch, consider preparing it now and freezing in an air-tight plastic bag.
1 week before
- Purchase the turkey, and be sure to keep it in the freezer until ready to thaw.
- Begin making any homemade decor or centerpieces that you plan to display on your table, or elsewhere throughout the house.
- Develop a schedule for cooking to make sure everything cooks to perfection.
A few days before
- Buy any perishable ingredients you’ll need, like fruits and vegetables.
- Begin thawing the turkey on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Keep a pan underneath to catch any drippings.
- Start cleaning up areas, such as bathrooms, bedrooms, and others that you can keep clean until Thanksgiving Day. You can also hang any special table or wall decor.
The morning of
- Be sure to wake up early enough that you aren’t rushing through the day, and start off with a light breakfast to avoid too much snacking! Also, be mindful of how long the turkey needs to cook, and start preparing any appetizers or snack items that need baking.
- Set the table, and arrange your decorations and centerpiece(s).
- Sweep around the kitchen or other areas that may have become messy while cooking.