We love a good countdown. Sometimes we do it without even knowing and other times it is something completely planned out. An example of this would be the advent calendars I create each year for my kiddos. I honestly have a blast making them and they have a blast opening it each day… it builds the excitement and anticipation for Christmas and gets us all in the holiday spirit. Such a great countdown!
I have a similar countdown that I have created in anticipation of Thanksgiving, however it’s less about gifts and more about planning and de-stressing my holiday. I have found that giving myself little items to tick off the list ahead of time gives me a sense of accomplishment and readiness and that helps keep me focused on the spirit of the holiday and less on everything that I have to do. So I thought it would be fun to share my Thanksgiving countdown with you, I hope that it helps lessen the stress that some of us holiday hostesses can tend to put on ourselves.
One Month Before
I have found it best to finalize my guest list a month in advance and with that I also finalize my holiday menu. You will see that getting that final head count is essential for the success of the rest of the countdown and I personally believe it also gives you time to mentally prepare which is a key element in any successful event.
Three Weeks Before
Now that we have our guest list and our finalized meal plan, it is time to make sure we have all of the tools and items that we will need to make our meal a success. Take stock of your utensils, serving platters, cutlery, baking pans, etc. Go ahead and order any serving or cooking items you’ll need. Then, create your shopping list (you won’t be grocery shopping yet, just planning ahead). When it comes to big holiday dinners and events I like to write my first shopping list out with the items I need for each dish grouped into sections. For example, everything I need for my brussel sprouts dish will be listed together. It is a way for me to make sure I didn’t miss or overlook any necessary ingredients. Along with taking stock of your gear, and creating your shopping list this is also the time where I would order my turkey. The last task for this week, is to shop for your drinks. Depending on your guest list this may vary, but if you are selecting wine or making mixed mocktails/cocktails I personally like to get all of these items early and out of the way, before all of the essential food shopping.
Two Weeks Before
This is the time to clean and prep your fridge, soon enough it will be overflowing with food and you will need all the space you can get. If you are a “make everything from scratch” kind of person, this is also time to start preparing some of the items that you can prepare ahead of time and freeze. I would suggest freezing your rolls, making and freezing your homemade stock for your gravy and stuffing and you can even prepare and freeze your pies. This step saves me a lot of time and stress on the week of Thanksgiving. Our last task this week is going to be finalizing our holiday decor plan. This is a big one for me, because many times I like to DIY some things and those projects take time to complete. Beginning two weeks ahead of time has really helped me enjoy the process and remember why I like doing it to begin with. If I put it off to the very last week, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and to lose sight of the creative joy that it brings me.
One Week Before
It’s time for shopping trip number two! We’ve already done our drink shopping, this week we are going to pick up all of our non-perishable items, as well as our turkey. I will also purchase tupperware this shopping trip, for any of those leftovers that are going to be sent home with my guests. Once we’ve got this weeks shopping done, we are going to sit down and create our seating plan and our cooking schedule. I have found the more you can plan in advance, the less there is to worry about when the big day comes and the more you as the hostess can enjoy yourself.
3 Days Before
It’s getting close to the big day and that means it’s time to defrost your turkey and it’s time to do one last epic shopping trip for all of your perishable/fresh ingredients.
2 Days Before
This is the time where I will clean and prep my house for our guests. With 6 people living in our space, we have stuff, and that stuff ends up all over the place sometimes. I will have the kids get all of their belongings out of our family common areas, I will clear off my counters with anything that I am not going to need or want out on Thanksgiving, I will give the bathrooms a good scrub down. Along with cleaning, I will prepare any sauces and desserts that I didn’t already pre-make the two weeks prior.
1 Day Before
I don’t know about you but in my household the cooking begins the day before Thanksgiving. That means today we are going to prepare all of the side dishes that can be reheated. We are going to prep all of our garnishes and starters and we are going to get our pies baking in the oven. The day before is also when I like to get my table all set up and ready. I will get my selected holiday decor items and my DIY projects and I will set up our holiday tablescape. This applies to the rest of the home as well, if I’ve picked up special candles for the bathrooms or pillows and throws for the living room, this is the day that I will put all of those items in place. For you momma’s out there, I suggest setting all of your littles outfits out as well. If they are old enough to dress themselves, put their clothes where it will be easy for them to see them and find everything in one place. This will wipe out some of those “I can’t find my pants, or I am missing a shoe” cries that we are all so familiar with 😉 . Lastly, I vacuum the house, dust and wipe down all of the windows and mirrors right before bed so all of my cleaning is done before the big day. (Okay, I enlist help for this cleaning up… all of our family pitches in!)
It’s Turkey day and we are prepared! I suggest getting up early and getting yourself ready for the day, I don’t know how many times I’ve not done this and have been busy cooking and decorating and end up only giving myself minutes to get ready before my guests arrive. We have put a lot into this day and we deserve to feel and look our best. I truly believe that getting up a little early and spending that time on ourselves will make the day all the better. Once you are ready, it’s time to pull out your cooking schedule that you made the week prior and get to cooking. You prepared for this, just stick to that schedule and enjoy yourself and your day.