Your Thanksgiving To-Do List


The holidays are back around again; it’s amazing how quickly the majority of the year has flown by! Whether you have a crowd to serve and please this year, or you simply want to decorate for a casual night filled with drinks and pie, the inevitable stress could be managed and minimized by the formation of a comprehensive to-do list.

Invite and RSVP

What would a great get-together be without family and friends? A great holiday party begins with inviting guests; the majority of your to-do list will, of course, depend on your number of guests. From planning drinks to the quantity of food to prepare, start your preparations off on the right foot.

Plan the Menu

The big centerpiece of your Thanksgiving party will, of course, be the food! In order to keep organized and minimize the pressure on the day of your get-together, plan ahead; make a grocery list. This might sound like a simple, straightforward task, but its importance should not be overlooked. Get in touch with your guests to ask what their dietary requirements are. If you are able to make accommodations, let them know; if you’d like to rely on someone to bring something, ask them and make note of it.

Go Shopping – Twice

It’s okay to plan for something to go wrong…like forgetting one or two items on your list the first time around – or forget your list in the first place! This can be a stressful time of year, even without the added pressure on you as a host. Plan your grocery trips into two separate visits, the final one will be for ultra-perishable items and any forgotten items from the first trip.


If you haven’t already taken some time to spruce up your home, turn on some holiday music, drag out your decorations, and get some cheer on the walls! After all, a Thanksgiving get-together at a house that isn’t decorated is much like any other family dinner. If you don’t have a lot of time to put into your decoration efforts, pick up some fake leaves, pumpkins, and scarecrows! Scatter them around your house and light some fall-scented candles – instant harvest party vibes!


A critical part of the vibe for your dinner party will be ambient music. Take the time in advance to plan out what playlist you’d like to play – most people go for Christmas music, even before November is over. Test your speaker setup, and check that the volume levels are sufficient in different parts of the house.


Though preparing your Thanksgiving feast may be the greatest undertaking of all, it can be broken up into manageable chunks – just like anything else. Take a look at your menu to determine what can be made in advance. Pies, salads, and even potatoes can be cooked in advance, refrigerated, and completed the following day. Save fresh vegetable dishes, such as steamed vegetables, for the day of the feast!

Clean Out the Fridge

All of that prepared food will need a home before dinner and after as well. Your leftovers can be offered to family and friends, but you’ll likely end up with the majority of it causing a “no vacancy” in your fridge! Don’t forget to make room for and plan a beverage station for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, should you be offering them. Your freezer should be stocked with plenty of ice for this purpose.

Plan Seating

Some family friction can be avoided by carefully planning the seating arrangements at your home. It can help to eliminate frustration around scrounging to find an open spot at the table if everything is prearranged and accounted for. Make sure you have extra chairs, just in case extras arrive. By the same token, you should also plan how the food will be arranged – will your guests be serving themselves buffet style? Will you be laying out a formal dinner spread and passing around dishes.

After-Dinner Activities

Our last to-do list tip is to consider what you’ll offer your guests for entertainment. Would you like to do some party games or watch the Thanksgiving Day football game? Plan what the rest of the evening will look like so your guests don’t feel rushed out the door.

Start your holiday off on the right foot by planning your Thanksgiving week. It will certainly relieve some of the pressure of planning a huge get-together if you have some tasks written down on paper. In addition, crossing items off a list will help motivate you even further to make this the best Thanksgiving celebration your family has ever seen!