Countdown Checklist for Thanksgiving (Plus Shortcut Tips)

Posted by on Nov 23, 2022

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For some families, Thanksgiving is the biggest event of the year. For other people, it's a last-minute get together of friends. Either way, you want the party to be worth the trip, whether cousins flew from across the country or friends drove from a few miles away. Here's a list that's good to save for every year, a countdown that can begin six weeks out or a handful of hours. Plus a few shortcuts to help along the way.


6 Weeks: A Thanksgiving invitation requires plenty of advance. Send out a save the date.

1 Month: Mail out a detailed invitation.

2 Weeks: Buy tabletop items.

1 Week: Stock up on spices, cocktail fixings, and hard-to-find ingredients like sorghum.

3 Days: Find pretty branches to use for the gratitude tree, and cut out paper cards shaped like leaves and feathers.

2 Days: Buy all fresh flowers, vegetables, and herbs, as well as dairy items and the turkey itself. Peel grapefruit twists for the cocktails; store in the refrigerator. Day before: Make the turkey spice blend. Make the chocolate tart and refrigerate.

Night before: Whip up the Sorghum Sauce (if you're making). Prep the turkey.

Morning of: Bake the cornbread. Roast the turkey. Arrange the flowers.

3 Hours: Set the table. Bring tarts and pies up to room temperature.

2 Hours: Prepare the pavé (if you are making). Cook the carrots. 45 minutes: Sauté the green beans and okra. Bake the pavé.

20 Minutes: Set out ice for the cocktails. Rewarm the cornbread.

10 Minutes: Light any candles that you might be using. During the main course: Top the tart with the whipped cream, pomegranate molasses, and pomegranate seeds.

The Shortcuts
-- To easily carve thin slices of breast meat, gently cut the breasts from the turkey, placing them skin-side up on a board. Slice again from one narrow end to the other.
-- Make the tart in stages, baking and freezing the shell in advance. Or make the entire tart, thawing on Thanksgiving morning. You could even use a premade chocolate pie crust instead of starting from scratch.

Excerpted from InStyle Parties: The Complete Guide to Easy, Elegant Entertaining All Year Round by the Editors of INSTYLE. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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