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The Handy Thanksgiving Countdown For Hosts

Streamline your holiday preparations
  • Joan Hanson

November 9, 2017


We’ve all been there; the family’s arrived, you’re seated around the table and dinner is about to start when you notice something’s missing.

Skip the stress this year – Joan, one of our culinary experts, is here to help! Here is her tried-and-true take on planning Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Business

    Two Weeks Prior

    • Plan your menu and guest list
    • Invite your guests
    • Do an inventory of chairs, table linens, plates, glassware and flatware and borrow or purchase any missing items
    • Assign cooking projects to guests who offer to help
    • Read through recipes and create a detailed shopping list
    • Purchase a Jennie-O® turkey and put it in the freezer (plan on one pound of turkey per person)
    • Shop for non-perishable goods
  • shopping cart

    One Week Prior

    • Shop for hardier vegetables like squash, carrots and potatoes
  • cooked bird

    Thanksgiving Week

    • Clear space in the refrigerator and begin thawing the turkey. The time to thaw a turkey will depend on the weight of the turkey. A good rule of thumb is:
      • For 8 to 12 pounds allow 2 to 3 days
      • For 12 to 16 pounds allow 3 to 4 days
      • For 16 to 20 pounds allow 4 to 5 days
    • Label your serving platters and bowls with the names of the dishes to be served in them
    • Clean the house
  • Plate with Fork

    The Day Before

    • Set the table
    • Do any remaining baking, including apple, pumpkin and pecan pies
    • Calculate cooking times and cooking order for Thanksgiving day
  • family

    Thanksgiving Day

    • Roast the turkey
    • Prepare side dishes, cover and refrigerate
    • Boil and mash potatoes. They can be reheated just before serving. Or, use Hormel® mashed potatoes
    • Warm side dishes
    • Make the gravy
    • Carve the turkey
    • Put all the food on the table or buffet. Don’t hesitate to ask guests to help
For more helpful hints & delicious recipes visit