Your Step-by-Step Thanksgiving Guide

When November rolls in, it means the Thanksgiving countdown is on. You’ve got three weeks or so to plan and execute a fabulous Thanksgiving feast. If the mere thought of your Thanksgiving task list makes you cringe, we can help! Thanksgiving is about spending time with your special people and enjoying a traditional meal together. With our step-by-step guide, we can help you focus on that instead of stressing out about all the tasks at hand. Don’t aim to be a Martha Stewart-level hostess; remember, she has dozens of minions doing most of the work behind the scenes!

Early November

  • Finalize your Thanksgiving guest list. Take care of the calls, emails, and texts to nail down who is coming to your house for the big turkey meal. Let your family know who will be joining you for Thanksgiving and let them know you will need everyone’s help in getting your home ready.
  • Haven’t seen your dining room table in awhile? It’s time to clear away the clutter it’s buried under. Enlist your family’s help. As a part of playtime, children can return toys and arts and crafts to their bedrooms. You and your partner can put away items which don’t belong in the dining room. Resist hiding the clutter in a bedroom or closet to be dealt with later. If your dining room (kitchen, pantry, entryway) is buried, and clearing it out seems like an impossible task, don’t hesitate to contact Simplify Experts for help.
  • Will you have out of town guests? Will family members be spending the night? Ensure you have clean bed linens already on the guest beds and clean towels for overnight guests. If you don’t have a spare bedroom, check our how-to on this topic. Make sure the bathroom they’ll be using has basic toiletries (hint: hotel toiletries are great for this).
  • Will you have enough seating space for your guests? Borrow extra folding chairs/tables before buying your own. Will you need a high chair or booster seat? Borrow one as well. Borrowing instead of buying these seldom used items saves you money and eliminates the need to store them all year. This strategy will help keep additional clutter out of your home. When borrowing these items, make clear plans as to when you will be returning them.
  • Consider how many table cloths and napkins you will need. If your table linens need ironing, take care of that now. In a pinch throw them in the dryer for 10 minutes on “steam” setting, or on High with a damp washcloth.
  • Once your dining room is clutter-free you may choose to decorate your home for Thanksgiving. Purge as you decorate (one of our favorite tips!). Donate or toss any decorations which are broken, dated, or no longer meet your decorating style. Remember, a little decor goes a long way. Your home will feel festive even before the big day!


  • Plan your menu. Considering your guests’ special dietary needs and restrictions and whether your event is a potluck, write out a list of what each guest will bring and what you need to provide. This is a great time to purchase hard-to-find and non-perishable food items.
  • Make space for everything coming into your home by cleaning out your pantry and refrigerator. To create an accurate shopping list, first type or write up the menu, then list the ingredients for each dish to the side. As you go through your fridge and pantry, check off items that you already have. What’s left unchecked on the list is what you’ll need to buy—this is an easy way to not end up with multiple jars of spices, baking powder, etc.
  • While you clear out your pantry and refrigerator, go ahead and toss expired and unpopular items and free up space. While you’re at it, go ahead and wipe down the fridge shelves and drawers in preparation for the influx of ingredients and Thanksgiving dishes.

Third week of November

  • Take out any serving dishes and platters you will be using. Put sticky notes on them to indicate which platter will hold each dish, so on T-Day you’ll remember, and your helpers will, too. If you are using silver cutlery, take it out and polish it.
  • Take out any specialty items you use just on Thanksgiving or other special occasions, such as your large roasting pan, turkey lifter, turkey platter, chargers, etc.
  • Finalize seating arrangements. As it gets closer to the big day, you can begin to set the table.

Thanksgiving Day and Beyond


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