Thanksgiving Menu Mailer Timeline
FlyLady here; This timeline goes along with preparing the whole meal. Mine on the website is just for the few things I was putting together since I am having a pot luck meal. It was so funny and this is how in tune Leanne and I are to your needs and to each other. She was already working on this when I sent you past the website for my timeline. Hers is really good.
I have also put together a timeline of sorts to get you ready for Thanksgiving. Whether this is your first Thanksgiving as host or you’re done it for 25 years in your home, take a look at this list to see if you can garner a hint or two to help you make this holiday the smoothest one ever. It’s important to read it through to get a grasp of how things are going to go. Don’t save the reading part for Thanksgiving Day!
Remember: this is a holiday for EVERYONE, including the cook.
Two Weeks to Ten Days Ahead:
Order your turkey if you’re doing a fresh one. How much turkey will you need? About 1 pound per adult and a half pound per child so if you are having 10 adults and 10 children, you will need at least a 15 pound turkey. That will give you what you need, but no leftovers. My philosophy is buy a big one and enjoy the leftovers!
Firm up your guest list. Call and confirm as necessary.
If you are using my Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer, the shopping list is done for you. Go through it, double check what you already have and head for the market. Yes, buy EVERYTHING now, except the green beans, celery and parsley (and obviously, the fresh turkey if you ordered one). The only other exception would be the dinner rolls if you’re getting them from a bakery fresh. When you buy the cranberries, put them right into the freezer, in the bag they came in or wait and buy them when you get the green beans, etc. Your choice, but I buy them now because I’ve had a problem getting them (they’ve been out) when it’s closer to T-day. Same goes with heavy cream for whipping cream.
When you go shopping, make it easy on yourself. If at all possible, go shopping during off hours, without children and not hungry, or having to go the potty! I am serious…you have work to do there, girl!
Plan the table-are you using linens? Do they need pressing? Press them now and hang them or fold them for later. Nothing is worse than starching a tablecloth an hour before your guests are due to arrive (ask me how I know this!). What about the centerpiece and other decor? See the Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer to see some hints on easy, inexpensive yet beautiful, decor.
Double check your serving pieces and serving utensils against your menu. Do you have all the serving pieces you need, etc.? Make arrangements now to get or borrow what you need. DON’T do it the day of! If your great aunt forgets to bring her gravy boat and ladle, you’re up a creek without a paddle (or a ladle in this case).
One Week Ahead:
If you have shopped already (and you should have if you’re using my Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer), make a quick double check of your list and menu to make sure everything is ready for you to use. Take a hint from Santa and make your list and check it twice. This is not the time to forget anything! If you’re using my recipes and grocery list, the whole thing is already done for you so you can skip this step and go have a cup of tea instead (isn’t this fun?).
Clean out your refrigerator. Be ruthless. You’re going to need the room! You may also want to haul out the big cooler from the garage and clean it out to use on T-Day, if you’re desperate for space. Ask one of your guests to bring ice-you won’t have room in your poor beleaguered fridge.
Three Days Ahead:
Pull all the pieces you are going to use for serving. It is helpful to write what is going to go in what and write it on a 3 x 5 card and toss the card in the serving piece. A friend and mentor, Carolyn Dunn, from my early-married days taught me this nifty trick and it’s save my biscuits more than once. Then, you can stack your bowls, platters and other serving pieces together in one area with the cards already in them. Inevitably, on the big day, you will have all kinds of volunteers in the kitchen just before the time you’re ready to serve. Having those cards in place at that time will truly save your sanity while you’re trying to finish up the gravy and get the bird carved and you can keep the discussion about what goes in where to a minimum because the guesswork is gone.
To keep your serving pieces dust free, cover with a clean sheet folded in half. FlyLady even sets her table all the way a few days ahead and puts a sheet right over the top. When I had a dining room, I did the same thing, but now I only have the one table and I need to use it everyday. So use whichever method works for you-still get your serving pieces ready.
Purchase any last minute/fresh items like the ones mentioned above.
Don’t forget– thaw your frozen bird starting today! See Turkey 101 included in the Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer for more info on thawing a turkey.
Two Days Before:
From the Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer, make the Pumpkin Cheesecake. When it has completely cooled, cover in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
Make Orange Cranberry Sauce. Completely cool before refrigerating.
The Day Before:
If you ordered a fresh turkey, today’s the day to pick it up.
Chop everything and individually bag it up in zipper-topped, plastic bags: onions and celery for the dressing, veggies for side dishes, etc. Refrigerate after prepping. Don’t do the potatoes or sweet potatoes though: they’ll discolor.
Set the table and cover it with a sheet to keep the dust out.
Go over your plan for T Day and make sure your ducks (turkeys?) are in a row. Double check everything-your serving pieces, your menu, your guest list-the whole enchilada. Determine the time your turkey should go in the oven based on when you want dinner served (don’t forget to include your turkey’s “rest time”!). Cut and paste tomorrow’s T Day list and put the time these things need to be accomplished. Having that list handy will clear your brain so you can be pleasant with your guests!
Go to bed early! Tomorrow’s a big day.
T Day Countdown:
In the morning: First get up and get dressed to lace up shoes(good support shoes)FlyLady says just do it! Fix your hair and face too. You may not have another chance. Put on a festive apron.
Prepare Muzzie’s Fabulous Stuffing (in the Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer).
Put your bird in the oven at the appropriate time based on the Chart for Cooking Your Bird that was included in the Thanksgiving Menu- Mailer and what time you want to serve dinner. Remember, you need to add an hour to that time because the bird needs to rest an hour out of the oven before serving. Should you get out of control at any point, call the Butterball turkey hotline, 1-800-BUTTERBALL.
Make the stock for the gravy (included in the Pan Gravy recipe).
Wash, peel and chunk potatoes for mashed potatoes for Old Fashioned Mashed Potatoes. Place in a pot with cold water. Set aside, not on the stove or the pot will become warm and the potatoes will begin to cook-they need to stay cool.
Prepare Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions (in the Thanksgiving Menu-Mailer) to go in the oven; set aside.
Put the butter, salt and pepper (if not already there) on the table. Consider two butters and two sets of salt and peppers on either end.
Remember, clean as you go-it’s so much EASIER! Keep a sink full of hot soapy water and dump stuff in there as you go. Run the dishwasher and empty it after this little blitz.
Take a timeout and put your feet up for a bit. Double check the bathrooms for clean guest towels, hand soap and extra toilet paper before you sit down.
One Hour Before:
At this point, your turkey should be finished roasting and resting comfortably. Don’t forget to give him his foil jacket so he doesn’t get cold. You still have a lot to do, if someone volunteers to help, let them help!
Cook the Old Fashioned Mashed potatoes (see recipe) and place in a crockpot on low (I strongly urge you to test drive this first to make sure your crockpot will not run too hot for this task).
Cook Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions (see recipe). Keep warm after cooking.
Cook Sauteed Green Beans with Nutmeg (see recipe). Keep warm after cooking.
Carve the turkey. See http://www.cooks.com/rec/story/69/ for an illustration on how to carve. Copy this page for a reference. I recommend the FIRST carving technique and not the second one.
Make the Pan Gravy (see recipe).
Heat the rolls.
Put cranberries in the serving dish with utensil and on the table or buffet.
Whip the cream (or do it later…that’s what I do)
Set the coffeemaker up so all you have to do is flick the switch.
Time to Eat!
Start getting everything in its serving dish: turkey on the platter with serving utensil, rolls in the basket (or baskets) with the napkin to keep them warm, green beans, sweet potatoes, gravy in its boat, stuffing or dressing, and of course, the mashed potatoes.
You’ve earned your kudos! Take the compliments, enjoy your family and friends, and most importantly, give thanks.