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Hosting Thanksgiving To Do List

Hosting Thanksgiving can definitely be a daunting task. How you want the meal and family time is totally up to you. It can be a big elaborate affair or a small, intimate, and simple meal, either way it’s good to be prepared and start those preparations early.

In order to plan here’s a breakdown of everything to consider for planning Thanksgiving.

Get a PDF of this checklist here.

3 Weeks Out

  • Invite your guests
  • Set your budget
  • Start checking local grocery ads (any deal you can find is a plus)
  • Plan your menu
  • Pull out/buy decorations

2 Weeks Out

  • Check any table dressings and linens
  • Plan your centerpiece and table décor
  • Buy a frozen turkey
  • Check your kitchen supplies and tools
  • Finalize dishes your guests will be bringing
  • Check your fire extinguisher

1 Week Out

  • Order flowers
  • Polish silver
  • Buy wine
  • Plan activities for children
  • Check your seating (prepare additional seating)
  • Finalize shopping plan

Saturday/Sunday Before

  • Shop for any non-perishables
  • Prep any premade dishes that can be frozen
  • Clean the house
  • Child-proof your home
  • Move furniture
  • Finish prepping linens


  • Make pies
  • Begin defrosting your turkey (Exact time turkey needs to defrost depends on weight. Take a look here)
  • Finish decorating


  • Buy any perishables
  • Buy fresh flowers


  • Spot clean
  • Set the table
  • Chill white wines

There will be many dishes you can make ahead of time. Here are some great ones.

Also, many dishes you can just buy premade and save yourself some stress.

  • Appetizers (cheese tray, cracker tray, shrimp cocktail, etc)
  • Pies (Apple, Pumpkin)
  • Corn
  • Cornbread
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Ham
  • Gravy
  • Rolls
  • Salad

In 2020, there are also many plan changes for the holidays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some differences to consider.

Keep the guest list small

The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. Limit the guest list to 15 people max but also consider the room of the location the dinner is being held. If you’re indoors consider a smaller gathering. If you’re able to be outdoors and spread apart you may be able to add to the guest list.

The more guests you invite that are vigilant and careful to not be exposed to the virus the better. Guests that actively try to remain home, wear masks, and social distance, gives higher chance for safety.

Provide soap or hand sanitizer

Providing sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will give guests all the opportunity to keep their hands clean and limit the spread of any germs.


Encourage all attendees to wear masks until sitting down to eat and provide room for each party to sit separately while eating.

Consider Virtual

It is possible to have a get together with guests virtually. Plan a virtual event and games.

Have guests bring their own

As much as possible that you’re able have your guests bring items such as their own plates, own utensils, own drinks.

Separate all side dishes to individual servings

Providing individual servings and not letting everyone dish out of a community pot will lower the risk of transmission.



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