Thanksgiving Day Timeline: Start Planning for the Holiday

With this Thanksgiving guide your prep will be a breeze.

Whether you have months to plan, or only days, this timeline will help to ease your culinary and celebratory confusion.

A Few Weeks Before:

  • Prepare two grocery lists — one for nonperishable items to purchase now and one for perishable items to purchase a few days before Thanksgiving Day.
  • Order a fresh turkey or buy and freeze a frozen turkey.
  • Gather materials for the Sheaves of Wheat Centerpiece
  • Bake the Herbed Cheddar Crescents; cool. Freeze in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag.
  • Plan which side dishes to serve

Four to Five Days Before:

  • Buy remaining grocery items, including the fresh turkey if you ordered one.

The Day Before:

  • Set the dinner table and arrange the centerpiece.
  • Make the Hazelnut Pear Tart; store in the refrigerator.
  • For the Blue Cheese Romaine Salad, bake the pine nuts in butter as directed; cool and store at room temperature in an airtight container. Make the salad dressing; cover and chill. Wash, dry and tear the romaine; refrigerate in a resealable
    plastic bag.
  • Prepare the mayonnaise mixture for the Cucumber Dill Dip; cover and chill. Cut up any vegetables for dipping; place in individual resealable plastic bags and refrigerate.
  • Assemble the Squash Supreme casserole but don’t sprinkle with bread crumbs and paprika or drizzle with butter. Cover and refrigerate.
  • Make the glaze for Fruit-Glazed Turkey; cover and chill.

Thanksgiving Day:

  • In the morning, thaw Herbed Cheddar Crescents in the refrigerator.
  • Make the apple-raisin stuffing, stuff the turkey and bake, basting with the fruit
    glaze as directed.
  • Just before guests arrive, peel, seed and chop cucumber; stir into the Cucumber
    Dill Dip mayonnaise mixture. Serve with vegetables and/or crackers.
  • Remove Squash Supreme from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
    Sprinkle bread crumbs and paprika on top; drizzle with the melted butter. Bake
    as directed. (If the casserole has been refrigerated overnight, you may need to
    bake it a little longer than the recipe specifies.)
  • If desired, wrap Herbed Cheddar Crescents in foil. Reheat in a 325° oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Let the cooked turkey stand for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Remove
    the stuffing and carve the turkey.
  • Slice the apples or pears for Blue Cheese Romaine Salad. Stir the dressing and assemble the salad as directed.
  • For dessert, serve Hazelnut Pear Tart.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest