Countdown to turkey: Here’s how to prep a flawless Thanksgiving dinner

Countdown to turkey: Here’s how to prep a flawless Thanksgiving dinner

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – but for many of us, it’s also the most stressful. Between shopping for gifts, posing for that perfect Christmas card shot and attending all the things (never thought we’d miss you, 2020!), planning and executing a picture-perfect Thanksgiving dinner might be turning your holiday cheer into holiday anxiety. 

Of course, one of the easiest ways to combat stress is a little preparation, so if you haven’t made a Thanksgiving game plan, now is the time. Here’s how to create a Thanksgiving dinner your friends and family won’t soon forget – simply and conveniently. 

Two weeks before: think big picture

They say the devil is in the details, but that’s just because the devil forgets to order his table linens in time. Before you start thinking about brining turkeys and curating charcuterie, consider your overall Thanksgiving ambiance. Is it a casual potluck or are you dusting off grandma’s best china? Either way, make sure you’ve got everything you need to set the table well ahead of time. Finalize your guest list so you can start envisioning seating and place settings. 

And speaking of place settings, now’s the time to make sure your table linens make a big statement. We recommend our Holly dinner napkin set for a fall look with a festive nod to the season ahead. Or try our Frost design for a more sophisticated and modern tablescape. 

Two weeks before: set the menu and make assignments

Everyone has a dish or two they just can’t celebrate Thanksgiving without. That’s why it’s important to determine your holiday menu with enough time to make adjustments due to dietary restrictions or last-minute requests from your guests. Once your menu is finalized, use this to start your shopping list. 

And since oven space is a hot (see what we did there?) commodity on Thanksgiving Day, make sure any dishes you assign your guests can be served cold or at room temperature. This will help prevent any last-minute bottlenecks in the kitchen.

One week before: set the stage

If you’re like us, your good intentions are just a dirty refrigerator away from falling apart. At least a week before Thanksgiving, carve out an hour or two to cleanse your kitchen and prep for the holiday. Clear your fridge of anything old, expired or all-around uninspiring (we’re looking at you, half-eaten jar of olives). Set your oven to its self-cleaning cycle (or grab your gloves and oven cleaner) to clear out any leftover debris (and avoid an inadvertently smoked turkey). 

Next, assess your cookware and serving dishes. Pull out platters, bowls and serving utensils to make sure you won’t need to make a ninth inning run to Home Goods. Once you have your menu finalized, it can help to label each dish with its coordinating food items to ensure you’ve got what you need on hand.

One week before: shop shelf-stable

Some Thanksgiving items – like fresh produce and your centerpiece turkey or ham – aren’t going to sit tight in the pantry for weeks at a time. That said, a lot of what makes your holiday meal iconic will. To cut down on the pre-Thanksgiving panic shopping – and avoid finding empty shelves instead of cranberry sauce – shop what you can in advance. 

Baking items like flour and sugar, canned vegetables, poultry stock, nuts, etc., will all sit pretty for a week or two, so snag these items as soon as possible. This way, you’ll be less overwhelmed when the time comes to shop for perishable goods – and you’ll be sure to have everything you in on hand. 

Two-to-three days before: shop all the things

We’ve all been to the grocery store the night before Thanksgiving – and it’s a place most of us wouldn’t willingly return. Avoid the last-minute rush (and the empty shelves!) by completing your shopping early in the week (shoot for Monday). Most items, including your turkey, produce and dairy products, will be fine in your fridge for a few days. In fact, if you’re purchasing a frozen turkey, earlier is better, as it can take days for a big bird to thaw in the fridge. 

The night before: set the table

Have you ever finished prepping a big family dinner, only to realize your dining table looks like an office desk, homework nook or general drop zone? Avoid the game-day frazzle by clearing your dining room and setting your table the night before. Not only is this one item off your Thanksgiving Day to-do list, but a beautifully set table will also help deter innocent (or not-so-innocent) students, work-from-homers or coloring book aficionados from taking over your space prior to dinner. Plus, this gives you a little cushion time to make sure you’ve got place settings, utensils and napkins washed and ready when your guests arrive. 

With the timeline down, you’re ready to talk –er, roast – turkey. 

From all of us at Geometry, we wish you and yours a happy, healthy and bountiful Thanksgiving.