Thanksgiving Countdown: Plan For A Great Day {Includes Free Printable}

Getting ready for a big holiday celebration, like Thanksgiving, can feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to. Use this Thanksgiving countdown plan, which lists all of the major things you need to do to get ready for the big day, to help you. I've even included a free printable checklist or schedule of tasks you can reference!

Free printable #Thanksgiving countdown planner and checklist to get ready for the big day {courtesy of Household Management 101} #ThanksgivingPlanner #ThanksgivingPlanninguse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Free printable #Thanksgiving countdown planner and checklist to get ready for the big day {courtesy of Household Management 101} #ThanksgivingPlanner #ThanksgivingPlanning
use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

If you've been following along with the Stress Free Holidays Challenge we do here on the site each year you've already been told, week by week, to do these things. But I felt like seeing it all together could help you see the big picture, so I've listed all the steps here!

Make sure to follow the links throughout the countdown list as well, to get additional resources, including more detailed instructions and also some additional printables I've created for you that can help you do some of these tasks.

The free printable is at the bottom of the page!

Early November

  • Invite guests, and if others will be brining dishes keep track of who is bringing what
  • Plan out your menu (you can use this printable menu planner)
  • Create your grocery and shopping list (you can use this printable list)
  • Order anything youÂ’ll need for the big day, such as a fresh turkey or a table centerpiece
  • Make a preliminary decision about your table decorations

Two weeks prior

  • Begin getting table decorations ready, including cleaning or polishing silver, fine china and glassware, and ironing tablecloths and napkins
  • Shop for nonperishable items from your grocery list
  • Clean out refrigerator to make room for Thanksgiving items
  • Plan what serving dishes or platters will be used to serve each menu item, and use something like an index card to label and designate each dishes use
  • Plan for leftovers, including organizing food storage containers and ways to allow guests to take leftovers home
  • Create any non-perishable table decorations, such as place cards, centerpiece, fold napkins, etc.
  • Plan seating arrangements for all guests, and confirm have enough chairs, plates, glasses, etc.

One week prior

  • Create a cooking schedule for the few days prior to Thanksgiving, and by the hour for Thanksgiving day (you can use this printable schedule)
  • Check thawing time for your frozen turkey (read this article for tips)
  • Prepare guests rooms and guests areas for company
  • Clean house, including any decorations or clean up on the exterior of your home

4-3 days prior

  • Begin to defrost your turkey (depends on the size, so check the article above for tips)
  • Confirm what guests are bringing, including serving dishes to be used and cooking or heating needed for those dishes
  • Continue any cleaning or decorating that can be done ahead of time

2 days ahead

  • Grocery shop for perishable items
  • Chill beverages
  • Any prep ahead cooking or preparation of ingredients that can be done today, especially from recently bought perishable ingredients

1 day ahead

  • Continue prep ahead cooking or prepping ingredients to the extent possible
  • Confirm everything in house, including in bathrooms, is ready for guests
  • Confirm house cleaning tasks done, especially in kitchen and any rooms where guests will be entertained
  • Set table, including with table decorations
  • Set out all serving dishes, in order, where they will be used
  • Create drink station for guests use during the day and for the meal itself

Thanksgiving day

  • Fill condiment dishes (refrigerate as necessary until time for use)
  • Assign family members to help with guests, including answering door, taking coats, serving drinks, etc.
  • Cook the majority of the meal (use your hour by hour schedule you created earlier to make sure you stay on track)
  • Clean up kitchen as much as you can, as you cook
  • After cooking, add to the serving dishes, and have others help you add food and drinks to the table
  • Enjoy dinner with family and friends


  • Gather linens, such as napkins and tablecloths for laundering, and wash them
  • Add as much stuff to the dishwasher as possible
  • Put away leftovers, including creating packages for guests to take some home, and refrigerate all leftovers
  • Hand wash pots, pans, and anything else that cannot be washed in the dishwasher
  • Clear kitchen counters and clean them
  • Make sure to return (after washing) any borrowed items, such as serving pieces, dishes, or other items
  • Put away dishes, serving pieces and glassware

Get Your Free Printable Here

Get your free printable below. Make sure you put it in your holiday planner!

Free printable #Thanksgiving countdown planner and checklist to get ready for the big day {courtesy of Household Management 101} #ThanksgivingPlanner #ThanksgivingPlanning
use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Click here to get your free printable
(opens into new window as 2 page PDF)

Additional Free Holiday Printables On The Site

Here are additional free Thanksgiving printables available on the site:

Printable Thanksgiving planner
Thanksgiving Planner

In addition, here are Christmas printables available on the site:

Printable Christmas planner
Christmas Planner

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