10 Smart Tips to Help You Prepare for Thanksgiving

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If you’re not quite ready yet, don’t worry — that’s why we’re here. When hosting Thanksgiving, as with any dinner party, last-minute tasks have a way of sneaking up on you and really gobbling up your time. This is why it’s so helpful to get as much as you can done in advance — starting with these 10 smart things you can do right now.

1. Check your cookware and kitchen tools.

In addition to planning your menu, it’s just as important to make sure you have all the cookware and kitchen tools you’ll need to prepare dinner. Do you need a roasting pan, more pie dishes, or a meat thermometer? If you haven’t already, now’s the time to take inventory and figure out what you still need.

Read more: 7 Tools You May Not Have That Will Make Thanksgiving Prep Easier

2. Get ready to start thawing your turkey.

If your turkey is frozen, it’s time to start thinking about thawing it. A completely frozen turkey needs a day to thaw for every four pounds in weight. And if you plan to brine your turkey, it needs to be defrosted one day sooner.

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3. Know how to cook your turkey without a roasting pan.

A roasting pan can be an expensive piece of cookware to buy, considering it only gets used a couple times a year, at best. If you don’t have one and are still unsure about buying one, relax — there are plenty of ways to cook your bird without one.

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

4. Make and freeze the gravy.

You can never have too much gravy on Thanksgiving, so why not tackle this essential now? Don’t worry about the drippings; you can always add turkey drippings to the gravy at the last minute for authentic flavor.

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5. Make the cranberry sauce.

While cranberry sauce is essential on Thanksgiving, my family has a knack for forgetting it once in a while. To be sure you don’t sit down to dinner without it, make your cranberry sauce now. Since it contains a lot of sugar, it’s essentially a quick jam that can be frozen or kept in the refrigerator until the big day.

Cranberry Sauce Recipes

6. Make and freeze the mashed potatoes.

While potatoes don’t have a good track record for freezing well, mashed potatoes are the exception. As long as your potatoes are coated with plenty of butter and cream, they’re perfectly freezer-friendly.

7. Make and freeze the dinner rolls.

Whether you enjoy rolls along with your meal, or prefer to save the bread for a small turkey sandwich after the initial food coma has worn off, this is one recipe that’s easy to make ahead and freeze until your holiday dinner.

8. Make the pie crust.

It doesn’t matter whether your plans include apple, pumpkin, or pecan pie, get a jump on pie prep by making the crust this weekend.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

9. Or go ahead and make the whole pie now.

This doesn’t work with custard-based pies, like pumpkin, but if you’re planning to make any fruit-filled pies this year, it’s easy to get a head start. Make the whole pie now, freeze it in the pie dish, and then bake it right before Thanksgiving.

10. Make a schedule of events for Thanksgiving day.

Even if you’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting ahead of time, it’s helpful to have a schedule of how the day will play out and what needs to happen when — especially when it comes to dishes that have to go in the oven.

Read more: A Make-Ahead Schedule for Thanksgiving