The early bird catches the…bird? Turkey Day—or Friendsgiving, if you can’t make it home—is still a few weeks away, but there’s a crazy amount of variables involved in hosting a flawless get-together. The more you have knocked out early, the better, so here’s what to do while you’re polishing off your leftover Halloween candy.
At Least 2 Weeks Before Thanksgiving
Decide Who’s Invited
As the host, you run the show—meaning you can give the thumbs up to Mom and Dad and the thumbs down to weird Cousin Jimmy (or vice versa). If you’re planning a sit-down dinner, be realistic about the size of your dining room table; if you’re doing buffet-style, be realistic about the size of your house’s common areas. Finally, ask every guest about their dietary preferences and food allergies—you might be surprised by their answers.
Map Out What You’re Eating
We recommend starting with the meal’s centerpiece and going from there. To that end, check out this handy turkey-decision flowchart from the New York Times. The sheer number of side dish options can be overwhelming, but it’s okay—that’s why you’re figuring this out now! Head to Pinterest for inspiration as well as specific recipes and tips. Finally, start thinking about the beverages you’ll be offering. Bon Appetit rounded up a bunch of wines that pair excellently with turkey.
Order Your Bird
We like these turkey-buying guidelines from Food Network: To calculate the size of the bird you’ll need, assume two pounds per adult and one pound per child—this will guarantee leftovers. Definitely order now for specialty birds (free-range, organic, heritage), as they can sell out in early November. And even if you’re going the supermarket Butterball route, there’s no such thing as buying too early.
Two Weeks Before Thanksgiving
Streamline Your Shopping List
Print out your menu and go through the recipes one by one. Based on your finalized guest list, write out the specific ingredients, and how much of each, you’ll need. Note any hard-to-find items and special utensils or cookware you might need, and make securing those a priority. Now is also a good time to delegate tasks or dishes to guests, if you choose. To avoid Turkey Day bloopers, let them know in writing (text or email) exactly what and how much to bring.
Here’s the idea: Just get it over with. Clean from top to bottom in early November—every room, window, carpet, and ceiling—and when it’s time to welcome your guests in a few weeks, all you’ll need to do is tidy up, dust, and vacuum. We found this Apartment Therapy checklist to be a helpful resource. (Bonus: A really good deep-cleaning will last you through Christmas and New Year’s.)
Don’t Forget About Yourself!
Book your hair and nail appointments—if you’re into that stuff—while (a) your brain still has the capacity for this info and (b) the salons still have availability for you. And if you need to take a break from all the prep but fear you’ll lose your momentum, queue up these classic Thanksgiving movies, courtesy of Real Simple, for a relaxing way to stay in the zone.