The perfect and easy Thanksgiving holiday really can be done. In one step you can eliminate the anxiety of preparing this holiday meal, just follow this simple plan.

Thankisgiving Dinner Table Make Easy ThinkStock

(In a Hurry or just Impatient? Scroll to the end for a bullet point list without all of the fluff!)


It may seem elementary in design, but often times the easiest solutions are through the most simple plans.

First and foremost it's time to start thinking about your guest list. Yes, our simple plan is to create a checklist.


  • Establish a guest list and confirm the number of people that will attend, within 1-3
  • Set a time for the big feast
  • Decide on a menu, will you go traditional, add new recipes or make something special for a guest? And what about appetizers?
  • After you have a good idea of what you want to serve decide if you want to let anyone bring anything. Aunt Rhonda's famous stuffing, Cousin Ted's seven layer bars, etc... IF you do allow others to bring stuff make sure it is stuff that will compliment your menu, not conflict with it. It isn't much help to you if you have people bringing stuff that isn't on your general menu. (And if you have a semi responsible friend/family member, don't let them bring an important item)
  • Gather the recipes for your feast and with a pad of paper double-check your pantry and spice rack to see what you have compared to what you will need.
  • Create a grocery list, there are two payday's before Thanksgiving, it helps the pocketbook to divide your list into these paychecks so that you don't get overwhelmed financially. Things you can buy now include the canned/jarred items, refrigerated/frozen pie crusts, pre-made bread crumbs, any additional spices you may need and the ham. Basically you can buy everything you need and want outside of the perishable items, also, for the best selection it's a good idea to  buy the turkey (the big ones seem to be harder to find the closer you get to the big day) *special note: if you are using a fresh turkey, wait till the week of Thanksgiving to purchase one and you may consider ordering it ahead of time. *Bonus: best time to shop is Wednesday's after 9 p.m.
  • When you put the groceries away, make a shelf just for the holiday meal items with note letting others know not to eat your special items. Ever wake up on Thanksgiving morning to realize the secret ingredient for a dish is missing? Stop that from happening with a few precautionary steps.
  • A lot of pies freeze well so start baking!
  • If you want to create a table-scape, think about the things you'll need like themed napkins, turkey candle holders, mini pumpkins, etc. You can buy these items anytime. Also, make sure that you have enough seating and table space for all of your guests, it is okay to ask someone to bring chairs.
  • If there will be children, what will they do besides run around the kitchen at your feet? Stop by your local discount store and pick up some inexpensive activities.


  • Figure out the number of guests, don't forget about plus one's
  • Set a time for the big feast
  • Decide on menu, let others bring something if they ask
  • Make grocery list, be sure to check your recipes for the oddball ingredient(s) that you don't typically keep on hand
  • Go shopping for non-perishables, only two paychecks till Turkey day (Wednesday's after 9 p.m. best day and time to shop)
  • Create a special shelf in the pantry and fridge for holiday items with a "Do Not Touch" sign
  • Bake pies you can freeze
  • Unpack or buy any needed decorations
  • Plan activities for children, buy needed items

This list is for the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. The week of Thanksgiving will be less stressful if you get as much done beforehand as possible.