All-Inclusive Thanksgiving Party Checklist

by Note with Love Team - Nov 20, 2023
A diary with an empty to-do list kept on a surface. a decorative small pumpkin, other fall decors and cutlery is placed beside it.

Everyone nationwide is gearing up for the cherished Thanksgiving celebration—a time of family, gratitude, and indulgence. Meticulous planning and organization will ensure a seamless and delightful gathering. Join us in exploring a thorough Thanksgiving checklist, enabling you and your loved ones to embrace the festivities with full on enjoyment. Let the preparations begin!

When is Thanksgiving in 2023?

Thanksgiving consistently falls on the fourth Thursday of November. Note that in 2023, Thanksgiving is on November 23rd. Knowing how many days until Thanksgiving help with proper planning and effective strategizing for your Thanksgiving preparations.

Why should we Plan, Plan and Plan

For creating a memorable Thanksgiving, detailed planning is the key. This beloved holiday demands careful attention, and starting preparations in mid or late October provides ample time for brainstorming menu ideas, creative decor, and other essential details. Keeping in mind how many days until Thanksgiving, every detail is considered, ensuring a joyous celebration with friends and family.

Here is a comprehensive Thanksgiving party checklist created for you.

1 month to go

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Setting the Ambiance

  • Decide whether you want a formal or relaxed atmosphere. Choose themes such as traditional, rustic, or modern to create a unique atmosphere. List out decoration and decorative elements that you will need to match the theme.
  • Make a list of the people you’ll be hosting on Thanksgiving week.
  • Reach out to friends and family to gather attendee information. This helps in planning the seating arrangements.
  • Consider seating arrangements, table linens, and flatware to match your desired ambience and number of guests.

Planning the Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

  • Estimate the number of guests and tailor your food list to their preferences.
  • Begin with a family turkey recipe, a Thanksgiving essential.
  • Check ideas for Thanksgiving dinner and plan your menu, including hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, and salads.
  • Don’t forget desserts!
  • Prepare a Thanksgiving dinner checklist to stay organized.
  • Ensure your food list for Thanksgiving dinner is comprehensive. Include traditional dishes and include options for everyone, ensuring a suitable main, vegetable, and starch are on the menu.

3 weeks to go

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Invitations and Dietary Considerations

  • Send Out Thanksgiving Invites. Reach out to your guests via text, phone calls, digital platforms, or traditional mailed invitations. Include a Thanksgiving message to reflect the spirit of the holiday.
  • Ask for RSVPs and inquire about any dietary restrictions or food allergies your guests may have. Make a headcount. Allow a little wiggle room.

Finalize Food List for Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Based on the dietary restrictions (if any), update the menu. 
  • Finalize your menu, considering feasibility and kitchen limitations. Choose recipes wisely, ensuring they share oven temperature for simultaneous cooking. Consider how your menu items will complement each other in taste and presentation, enhancing the ultimate Thanksgiving experience.
  • Delegate responsibility of different items to your guests if they are looking forward to contribute. This takes away a lot of pressure from your shoulders, too.
  • Create a detailed Thanksgiving shopping checklist based on the menu and decoration ideas.
  • Categorize ingredients into perishables, non-perishables, dairy, and frozen. 

Turkey and Kitchen Organization

  • Call ahead and schedule your turkey order promptly to get your desired size. Consider one pound per person.
  • Plan and store your turkey in the freezer, noting the thawing start date (around five to six days prior for frozen birds).
  • Deep clean the freezer and focus on kitchen cleaning, especially the oven, fridge, and freezer.
  • Organize your kitchen to avoid clutter, creating ample space in the refrigerator, freezer, cabinets, and pantry for Thanksgiving ingredients.

2 Weeks to go

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Plan entertainment for guests

  • Confirm arrival times with your guests.
  • Plan engaging activities and board games to keep guests entertained during the festivities.
  • If your guests are more into feel good movies, you can consider these movies for Thanksgiving day to keep them entertained.
  • If budget allows, you can surprise your guests with token Thanksgiving gifts. In such case, include these in the shopping list.

Thanksgiving Shopping list

  • Check your pantry for existing items to determine what you already have and what you need to purchase closer to Thanksgiving week. Finalize the shopping list.
  • You should purchase decoration and gift items at this time.

Plan Table Setting and Gathering Supplies

  • Select china, glassware, and linens for hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Wash and press linens two weeks before Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Coordinate rentals, if necessary, placing your order well in advance to secure items for your gathering.
  • Stock up on wine. Look for bulk discounts at local stores for wine, beer, and liquor.
  • Provide non-alcoholic options for all your guests’ preferences.
  • Ensure you have freezer bags or Tupperware for leftovers. Purchase foil casserole dishes for convenient portions without returns. Buy them now if needed.

1 week to go

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  • Start your Thanksgiving check off list by cleaning common areas, including the porch, living, and dining rooms.
  • Address guest spaces, such as bedrooms and bathrooms. Consider scheduling carpet cleaning and window washing if necessary.
  • Ensure fireplaces are clean and order firewood for a cozy atmosphere.
  • Follow the 10/10/10 Rule: Spend 10 minutes tidying, 10 minutes dusting, and 10 minutes vacuuming in each room.
  • Ensure clean sheets and towels for your houseguests.

Food & Last-Minute Preparations

  • Prepare a cooking schedule based on your Thanksgiving menu. Review recipes from your Thanksgiving list food and outline tasks according to their cooking times.
  • Confirm potluck dishes with guests and coordinate contributions.
  • Craft non-perishable items like napkin holders or centrepieces.

Serving Essentials and Entertainment

  • Match each dish with a designated serving item, marked with Post-It notes to avoid confusion on Thanksgiving day.
  • Create a delightful musical ambience for your Thanksgiving feast by curating a personalized playlist.

Sunday: 4 Days To Thanksgiving

Order Turkey and Other ingredients

  • Order your turkey if you are not using a frozen turkey. You should start thawing the bird in the fridge if it’s a frozen one. Use a tray to catch any fluids.
  • Double-check your Thanksgiving list food for any essentials—purchase or order remaining perishables such as fruits, veggies, meat, and refrigerated items.
  • Don’t forget to buy flowers, trash bags, and ice to ensure you have everything you need for the upcoming celebration. You can also make ice yourself to save some expenses.

Monday: 3 Days To Thanksgiving

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House Cleaning and Preparation 

  • Ensure all kitchen surfaces are thoroughly disinfected to maintain a clean cooking environment.
  • Focus on last-minute tidying up, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning bathrooms, and dusting. Your house will be spic-and-span in no time!

Thanksgiving Table Decorations

  • Decorate your table with your pre-planned Thanksgiving theme using bought and handmade decors.
  • Add place cards, a floral centerpiece, and candles to perfect your Thanksgiving ambience and set a warm and inviting tone for your guests.

Tuesday: 2 Days To Thanksgiving

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Grocery Shopping and Recipe Preparation

  • Purchase remaining items like dairy and herbs from your turkey day shopping list. Ensure proper storage for each item to maintain freshness.

Start crossing off items that can be pre-made from your Thanksgiving dinner checklist

  • Prepare salads and dressings in advance. Store them separately in the fridge to enhance flavors.
  • Prepare vegetables and measure spices in advance. Store them in Ziploc bags or transfer them to airtight containers. Refrigerate overnight to streamline your Thanksgiving menu preparations.
  • Prepare soup and freeze them.

Wednesday: The Day Before Thanksgiving

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Setting Up the Dining Area

  • Arrange all necessary utensils and condiments for drinks, desserts, and coffee in a designated serving area.
  • Place fancy dinnerware, placemats, and seasonal decor too.
  • Set up the bar.

Last-Minute Preparations

  • Assign a family photographer if you haven’t already.
  • Prepare side dishes and stuffing in advance.
  • Bake desserts. If your dessert needs to be assembled, then cook all the elements a day before the big day and store properly.
  • Consider pre-making a hearty breakfast to streamline your Thanksgiving check off list and reduce stress on the big day.

Thanksgiving Day

Celebrating the Ultimate Thanksgiving 

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  • Rise early to cook the turkey and start the gravy.
  • Take out all the pre-made items and heat them before serving.
  • Cook other items left on the menu. Check the dinner menu list to make sure you are not missing anything.
  • Stay in sync with family members, ensuring a smooth cooking and serving process, enhancing the overall experience.
  • Keep your guests involved in different activities so they don’t get bored.
  • Serve all courses for dinner. Assemble and serve the dessert items.

Unified Cleanup

  • Foster a sense of togetherness by encouraging everyone to take part in cleanup, emphasizing teamwork and shared responsibility.

Express Thanks

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  • Take a moment to reflect on the true significance of the day, appreciating the warmth and love of family and friends. Share heartfelt gratitude with your loved ones, appreciating the bonds and blessings that surround you. 
  • Consider a heartfelt Thanksgiving toast, acknowledging everyone and expressing gratitude for shared moments.
  • Give the gifts to the guests.


Crafting a Thanksgiving checklist may seem overwhelming, but with careful planning, it’s manageable. This guide helps you navigate the weeks to Thanksgiving effortlessly. Remember, Thanksgiving’s essence lies in treasured moments with loved ones. So don’t stress. You’ve got this!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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