The Ultimate Stress Free Thanksgiving Planning Guide

A close-up of a woman's hand holding a pen over pieces of paperThanksgiving. That name inspires sweet and comforting thoughts of spending time with family – as well as eating way too much of all those delectable, irresistible treats, of course.

But let’s not even fool ourselves – preparing for Turkey Day is a lot of work, and dealing with all the details of shopping, cooking, preparing the home, etc. can be an undeniable source of stress and frustration.

The solution? Some simple preparation tips that can help you stay on track and overcome any last-minute obstacles – so you can have more time to actually enjoy your holiday.

Thanksgiving Planning Guide

As soon as you can:

• Prepare your guest list; confirm how many people will be there.

• Find out if your guests have any special dietary needs.

• Place a rental order, if necessary, for tables, chairs, glasses, plates and flatware.

• Decide on your final menu and collect the recipes you’ll need. Select some dishes that taste good at room temperature, so you won’t have to worry about your hot entree getting cold, or your cold dessert melting.

• Assign cooking projects to family members who offer to help.

• Order your fresh turkey, or buy your frozen turkey and put it in the freezer. If buying a whole turkey, plan on one pound per person. If you’re buying just the bone-in breast, plan on 3/4 pound per person.

• Order or pick up alcohol and other beverages, or delegate this to your non-cooking guests. Keep in mind that a bottle of wine contains about five glasses and always have non-alcoholic drink choices on hand.

• Shop for non-perishable goods now. You can buy flour, sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, canned pumpkin, packaged stuffing and cornbread mixes, rice, and fresh or frozen cranberries, all before the crowds descend.

A Few Days Before Thanksgiving…

Shop. Shop for hardier vegetables like butternut squash, carrots, potatoes, parsnips and turnips. Buy heavy cream now; it’s hard to find right before the day of the holiday.