Thanksgiving Prep: Start Today!

Did you get a rude awakening when the calendar flipped to November yesterday? Every year I promise myself I won't be running around at the last minute preparing for Thanksgiving, but somewhere between November 1 and 25 I lose sight of the goal. Here are a few things I'm tackling super early this year (really!).

Pie Crusts: Homemade pie crusts can be the difference between a bland pie and a knock-your-socks-off dessert. And the best part is that the dough keeps in the freezer for a few months. So why not make a batch or two early?

Menu: Don't wait until the last minute for recipe inspiration. Whether you're sticking with old favorites or trying new traditions, drafting a menu will help you gradually pick up pantry items so you can avoid the shopping rush. And don't forget to order your turkey!

Tools: Every year I find myself scrambling around the night before Thanksgiving looking for a roasting pan. Take a look at your menu and double check that you have all the tools before its too late!

Gravy: It's the last item to prepare and sometimes a mystery whether you'll have enough for a crowd. Make and freeze turkey stock or full blown gravy. No one will know the difference!

Table Decorations: Images and ideas for styled and crafty Thanksgiving table scenes abound online and in magazines right now; get inspired and make your place cards and decorations now.

Related: Five Thanksgiving Prep Tips from Melissa Clark

(Images: Flickr user tuchodi licensed for use under Creative Commons)