This post has been edited from the original which was published on November 17, 2011.

Wow, the last three weeks have gone by so quickly!  I am so excited to celebrate Thanksgiving.  We have a super fun crew joining us this year and I am also looking forward to some one-on-one time with the kids, especially my older daughter who will be home from college for the first time since August!    I used to get all of them in the kitchen Thanksgiving morning to help me with pies or trimming green beans or whatnot, but my two daughters have taken to sleeping until noon on days off.  However I had a stroke of genius three years ago, which was to tack my Thanksgiving to-do list on the refrigerator and have everyone sign up for three tasks.  Even my husband gets in on the fun!

My last class is Friday, so I’ll start getting busy this weekend.  I always plan Thanksgiving day down to the last detail because I don’t like forgetting things and a schedule makes me feel more relaxed, which equals more fun for me!   But just because Thanksgiving is the star of the show this week doesn’t mean that I can forget about normal life on very other day.  So I think about regular meals and activities, too.  Here’s what my schedule will look like from Sunday until we eat on Thursday at 4:00 pm (-ish).  This shouldn’t make you feel exhausted, but merely show you what you can do ahead for your own Thanksgiving!


Go grocery shopping for most perishable items, bread for stuffing and food for remaining dinners this week.

Make cranberry sauce (I used to make applesauce on Sunday too, but my friend Caitlin is bringing it this year.)

Arrange tables and chairs

Write out placecards for table (a good job for one of the kids)

Dinner:  orange and rosemary-glazed chicken, cauliflower-potato mash, and broccoli

make bread cubes for stuffing


Make salad vinaigrettes

Make bread cubes for stuffing

Make ice cream

5:30 Bring Mr. Picky to soccer practice

Dinner:  roasted vegetable enchiladas, salad


11:00 – 1:00 cooking with blogger friends Zelana Montminy and Gina Ragnone

Shop for last perishable items from farmer’s market

Pick up turkeys.  Brine in the morning.

Buy flowers for entry table, family room and living room and put together table arrangements

Set table (I’ll set one place setting for the kids to copy and they can do the rest.)

Wash and dry greens (salad)

Toast pumpkin seeds (salad)

Seed pomegranates (salad)

Shred gruyere (tart)

Shred manchego (salad)

Defrost chicken/turkey stocks

Dinner:  pumpkin and black bean chili, spinach quesadillas


Make butternut squash soup

Chop onions for soup, stuffing and roasted vegetables

Slice zucchini (tart)

Steam, bread cauliflower

Blind bake crust (tart)

Herb oil (tart)

Make stuffing

Prep vegetables for Maple-Mustard Roasted Veggies

Thinly slice Brussels sprouts

Cut butternut squash into cubes for salad

Make sweet potato casserole

Bake pecan pies

Remove turkeys from wet brine and rinse (do not rinse dry-brined turkeys)

Set up for coffee and tea service

Check powder room

Dinner: spice-rubbed salmon, brown rice, sautéed Swiss chard

Before bed:  make sure garage refrigerator door is closed! (Four years ago, I left the door open to my extra fridge in the garage all night long.  OMG. Disaster!  Needed to buy two new turkeys on Thanksgiving morning!)


6:00 am wake and shower

Make cornbread (small oven)

Bake pumpkin pies (large oven)

Bake coffee cake (small oven)

Make gingerbread (large oven)

9:15 Take turkeys out of refrigerator

All desserts must be out of large oven by 10:30 am

Bake apple pie (small oven)

10:45 turkeys go in large oven breast side down at 425 degrees

11:25 turn oven down to 325 degrees and flip turkey breast side up

12:00 reheat soup and serve with cornbread

tidy up kitchen

get dressed and dry hair (a girl’s gotta look good!)

Put mixing bowl and beaters in freezer for whipped cream

Roast butternut squash for salad (small oven)

1:30 Peel potatoes and make mashed potatoes; keep in bowl, covered, over pot of simmering water

2:15 zucchini tart in small oven

2:30 fry cauliflower and heat tomato sauce; serve hot

3:00 serve hors d’oeuvres; start testing turkey temperature

3:00 – 3:30 take turkey out of oven

Put vegetables in large oven at 400 degrees

Make gravy

Reheat stuffing in small oven

Bake sweet potato casserole in large oven

Chop apples for Brussels sprout salad, assemble both salads

Light candles, pour water in glasses, set out cranberry sauce and applesauce

Place turkey platter in oven to warm up

3:50-4:00 Carve turkeys

4:00 Dinner is served

After dinner:  whip cream (do not overbeat!), coffee and tea, sparkling water

Make notes on what to remember for next year.  Next year??!!

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  1. Hi Pamela,

    I am going to try the Maple brine recipe this year and I noticed you are brining yours in the am Tues. Do you plan to leave in the brine until Thurs am or will you remove and rinse on Wed?


    • I should have put in my schedule that I will be removing the turkey from the brine on Wednesday night. I will do that. I realized last year that the brining turkeys took up too much space in my fridge and I had all the pans of stuffing and casseroles to fit in there. So I brine Tuesday to Wednesday and put the brined turkeys in casserole dishes in the fridge until Thursday morning. You shouldn’t brine more than 24 hours because the turkey can be too salty and the texture of the meat can get a little spongy. Hope that helps!

  2. You are an incredible inspiration
    and an amazing Queen!

    • Thanks, Linda! Happy Thanksgiving!

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