Thanksgiving Checklist: 11 Must to Do for This Thanksgiving

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Hosting Thanksgiving can be a little bit stressful trying to get everything together and planned, but the good news is that this Thanksgiving checklist can help you plan and carry out a memorable Thanksgiving everyone will enjoy without all the stress that comes with it. 

Thanksgiving Checklist

Thanksgiving Checklist

First and foremost, be sure you have plenty of Thanksgiving jokes up your sleeve. Planning Thanksgiving can be stressful at times, but with great jokes, it can help you get through just about anything. 

3 weeks out

Plan guest list / Invite

Plan guest list

The first thing you want to add to your Thanksgiving to-do list is to plan your guest list. Determine how many people you can host and who you would like to invite. 

Once you settle on the guest list, start inviting them. 

You want to know who is coming early on so that you can plan your Thanksgiving menu accordingly. 

Set your budget

Set your budget

An important item that is often overlooked is the budget. Set a reasonable budget that you can spend to host Thanksgiving. Be sure you include how much you want to spend on decorations, food, and other things. 

This helps you determine if you want people to help bring things and if you are going to cater somethings out or do it all yourself. 



Start planning your menu now on what you would like to serve. This helps you decide what to ask people to bring and what you will be making or buying. Beside each dish write who will be doing it to help you stay organized. 

Enlist Help

Thanksgiving Checklist

Although you are hosting Thanksgiving, don’t be afraid to ask people for help. If your great Aunt is coming and she makes a good apple crumble pie then ask her to bring it. 

If your mom loves design ask her to be in charge of the centerpieces for the table, perhaps even have your sister plan some fun turkey crafts for kids. 

Create a Shopping List

Create a Shopping List

The most important thing when creating your Thanksgiving checklist is to plan early, and this includes creating a shopping list. When you make a shopping list now it allows you to pick up items as they go on sale. It also helps lighten the burden of the cost of one big shopping trip when it gets close to Thanksgiving. 

Get Your Turkey

Thanksgiving Checklist

When you are hosting a crowd you don’t want to wait for the last minute. You want to grab a big turkey or two when you see them and keep them in your freezer. 

2 Weeks out

Check inventory

Thanksgiving Checklist

Check to see what you have and what you need to buy. This includes linens, decorations, and food. 

Finalize Menu

Thanksgiving Checklist

Finalize your menu and confirm who is bring what. By doing this now, it will help relieve your stress and help you feel more confident that Thanksgiving will be filled with all your favorite dishes. 

Buy all non-perishable items

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This is a great week to pick up all your non-perishable items. That way you can have it on hand and not have to worry about the store running out at the last minute. There is nothing worse than not being able to find cranberry sauce the day before Thanksgiving. 

Plan Kids Activities 

Plan Kids Activities

Plan your kids’ activities. There is nothing worse than trying to do last minute kitchen tasks on Thanksgiving while kids are running through the kitchen chasing each other. 

Put someone in charge of a Thanksgiving craft or another Thanksgiving activity to keep the kids occupied. 

Week of Thanksgiving

The week of Thanksgiving is really when you want to be on top of your Thanksgiving checklist to make sure you don’t miss a thing! The more you plan ahead the more you will get to relax leading up to Thanksgiving.

Do Final Shopping

Do Final Shopping

Plan your trip to the store at non-peak hours so that you can avoid the crowds. Here you will want to pick up everything left on your Thanksgiving shopping list. 


Prep the food

Prep all the food that you can early in the week. If you can make a dish ahead of time and freeze it, do it! This will save you tons of time on Thanksgiving morning. 

Clean the house

Clean the house

Deep clean the house the weekend before Thanksgiving. If you do this early you will be able to spot clean the day before everyone arrives. 

Get ready for Company

Get ready for Company

If people are staying with you, now is the time to wash towels and linens and get things ready for their arrival.

Make Pies

Thanksgiving Checklist

Did you know that you can prep pies early and then let them sit in the fridge prior to baking? I usually prep my pies on Monday and bake them on Wednesday night. 

Defrost Turkey

Defrost Turkey

Write defrost turkey on your to-do list for Monday. There is nothing worse than realizing that you forgot to get the turkey out of the freezer. Usually, it takes about 24 hours for every 4 pounds. 



Be sure you decorate before everyone arrives. This ensures that it is exactly how you want it to be. 

Day Before Thanksgiving Checklist

It is the day before and you might be in a mad rush to get everything done, but this Thankssgiving checklist will help you not miss a thing. 

Tidy/ Clean

Tidy house

Do one final tidy throughout the house as well as spot clean the areas that are dirty. Don’t forget to wipe the counters and the toilet in the bathroom before everyone arrives. 

Clean Towels

Clean Towels

Be sure you get our clean towels and check the levels of the toilet paper and the soap. Place an additional roll of toilet paper in a place that can be seen. You don’t want to leave anyone stranded not knowing where the toilet paper is. 

Day of Thanksgiving

Today is the big day and with a few more things to do, you will have a great meal with even better company. 

Morning of Thanksgiving

  • Prep Turkey/stuffing
  • Peel potatoes/cut / add to pot with water to prevent browning
  • Prep appetizers
  • Prep casseroles
  • Set Tables

Middle of the Day

  • Place food on table that can sit out
  • Serve appetizers and drinks

An hour Before

  • Cook potatoes
  • Bake casseroles
  • Warm bread
  • Cook vegetables

30 minutes until Dinner

  • Toss the salad
  • Carve the turkey
  • Set the table
  • Make gravy

Other Thanksgiving tips to help lower the stress

  • Don’t be afraid to make your life simple. Buy pre-cut vegetables, frozen rolls, or store-bought pies. 
  • Use disposable. There are some great looking disposable items out there, don’t be afraid to use them. The last thing you want is to be washing a million dishes after Thanksgiving dinner. 

With this Thanksgiving checklist, you will have a great stressfree Thanksgiving this year! What would you add to the list? Share in the comments! 

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