Hosting Thanksgiving for the first time? Use a checklist to ensure your Thanksgiving is a gobble gobble success!

  1. Create a menu – Don’t overthink it. Go for menu items that are trusted and proven. We recommend 2-3 appetizers, 1-2 main items (turkey, ham, etc.), 3-4 sides, and 1-2 desserts. Typical Thanksgiving foods include turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, and pecan pie. For more dish ideas, check out Food Network.
  2. Shopping – Go to the grocery store. Seems simple but it can be overwhelming. This task can be divided into two trips. Buy the food you can prepare ahead of time (non-perishable items) for the first trip, and buy the more immediate items a couple days before Thanksgiving. Do not procrastinate your grocery shopping. You don’t want to do it last minute in case the items you need aren’t available. Also, you want to make sure to go to the liquor store to pick up alcoholic beverages for your guests. Here are some cocktail ideas that can complement your Thanksgiving meal.
  3. Guest list – Make a note of how many people are coming over, and how many of them are children. If you need them to bring something, request this well before hand. If your guests offer to bring a dish, do not turn them down. It will make your work that much easier. Obviously you will want to specify which dish they are to bring over, so they don’t bring a dish that you yourself are making. Another thing you need to consider is your guests’ dietary needs.What’s playing for Thanksgiving? Music suggestions to rock the turkey.
  4. Prepare for guests – If they are staying the night, provide them with towels and linens to ensure they are comfortable. Also, provide them with necessary toiletries. If they require special accommodations, ask them ahead of time.
  5. Prep work – If possible, make some dishes beforehand. This will make the day of Thanksgiving that much easier. Here are some ideas on which dishes are good to make prior to the big day.
  6. Chores – Do some necessary home tasks to ensure your meal preparation process is as easy as possible. Empty the trash, do the dishes, set the table, polish your silver, and light the candles.
  7. Cooking – For information about how long to cook your turkey, check out this chart. Your turkey doesn’t have to be baked, it can be grilled or deep fried. Here are some more ideas on when to cook each item on your Thanksgiving menu.

For a more in-depth look on how to plan and cook a Thanksgiving dinner, check out this story at The New York Times.