Your Checklist for Stress-Free Thanksgiving Prep

November 1, 2023 by Kenmore

Family thanksgiving prep checklist

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Where does the time go? It feels like just yesterday we were sipping summer drinks, barbecuing in the backyard. And now we’re just a few weeks away from the ultimate feasting holiday — Thanksgiving!

Don’t stress if the holidays have snuck up on you. We’ve put together an easy-to-follow checklist to help you host like a pro and even find time to enjoy the festivities yourself.

Three Weeks Ahead

First things first — finalize the guest list!

Knowing just how many mouths you have to feed will help you determine how much dinnerware you’ll need, what to put on the menu (and what to keep off), as well as any guest room preparation.

Start putting together your menu.

Are you going for more of a classic Thanksgiving dinner? Are you open to trying something new this year? If there are any recipes you’ve been interested in trying out, now is a good time to give them a test run to find out if those recipes are even doable. You’ll also have to ask yourself if you are willing to make everything yourself or if you’ll be running out to the store for a few prepared dishes.

When planning your menu, don’t forget to leave room for those dishes your guests may want to bring. You don’t want any duplicate dishes, or to miss out on your aunt’s famous creamed corn bread. And keep in mind any dietary restrictions or food allergies your guests may have!

Update your kitchen essentials.

This is a great time to think about what kind of cooking gear you’ll be needing. Do a quick check-up on your slow cooker, blender, coffee maker and hand or stand mixer to make sure they’re in good condition for the big day. If you really want to make your Thanksgiving cooking that much easier, a new food processor will save you so much prep time!

Gather your décor items.

Now is the time to see if you can make all of those centerpieces and DIY banners you’ve been adding to your Pinterest boards. It will be much easier to get all of your decorating prepared or set up earlier in the month rather than stress about it the week of. This will also give you an opportunity to see if that dinner tablecloth, napkins or table runner need a little TLC from the before they make their appearance on turkey day.

Two Weeks Ahead

Buy your turkey.

Need we say more? Actually, maybe we do. Check out: Tips for Shopping for a Thanksgiving Turkey.

Finalize your menu and make your food shopping list.

This will give you plenty of time to find the more exotic ingredients that aren’t in every store. Now would also be a good time to stock up on the dry ingredients that you’ll be needing. Your fresher produce and perishables won’t need to be purchased until a few days out from Thanksgiving.


Make things a bit easier to find and more organized by clearing out a cabinet in the kitchen or a shelf in your pantry dedicated to just your Thanksgiving food needs. You’ll thank yourself later when you don’t have to tear up a perfectly clean kitchen to find the brown sugar.

Linen check.

If you’re planning on having guests for an extended stay, do a guest towel and room check to see if you need to pick up any new bed linens. A quick spin in the Express cycle of our Kenmore washer & dryer could give them a quick little refresh and have them spruced up in no time!

One Week Ahead

Do a deep clean of your fridge and freezer.

This way you can make more space and find any last-minute items you might need to pick up. Get every nook and cranny with our blog here.

Clean the house.

This includes guest rooms, getting linens and towels ready, cleaning dishes and glasses and polishing silverware.

Cook as many things as you can ahead of time.

Think stocks, soups, pie dough, bread, potato dishes and any other items on your menu that can safely be frozen and defrosted.

Weekend Before

If you need to, start defrosting your turkey. The golden rule is five hours per pound needed to defrost. And you’ll be wanting to start your turkey prep on Wednesday night!


Hit the store! Buy your fresh produce or perishables. Pick up any last-minute items like napkins, extra cutlery, coffee, creamer, hand soap and more.


Cook. Make any dishes that can just be reheated or are okay to stay in the refrigerator ahead of time today. These will be your mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, casseroles, mac and cheese or pasta salads.

Prep. Defrost the dishes you made ahead of time like bread or pie crusts. You can also begin to make your pies once the crust is defrosted.

With all that extra space in the freezer, pick up some extra ice if necessary to chill drinks tomorrow, and store it.

And now the main event — prepping your turkey! Your absolute must to having a juicy and tender turkey is brining. Leave your turkey in the brine overnight.

Thanksgiving Day!

You made it! Just a few little things to do now…

Go time! Add the stuffing to your turkey and get roasting!

Set up. Get your tables, dinnerware and chairs set up, as well as any last-minute decorations.

Chill your beverages.

Heat it up. While the turkey is cooking, finish making the side dishes that you have left for today. Schedule out when you will need to heat up the other dishes that you made ahead.

Final touches. After the turkey is done, use the juices to make your gravy and let your bird “rest” to guarantee juicy meat. Use this extra time for any last-minute reheats of breads, desserts or sides.

Dinner is served! And the most important tip of all — don’t forget to enjoy the day, and your family and friends. It’s a celebration, after all!


The Kenmore brand represents 100 years of trusted performance, backed by exclusive features and innovations that no other brand can bring to the table. We’re always evolving to ensure day-to-day tasks are taken care of with faster cooking, better cleaning and more living throughout the home.