Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas & The Thanksgiving Countdown Time Line

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Check out these delicious Thanksgiving dinner ideas, the Thanksgiving countdown time line, Fall decorating ideas and more. You'll be thankful you did!

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Successfully organize Thanksgiving day? A properly planned dinner from start to finish? Enjoy Thanksgiving, even though you're the host and have to be in all places at once? Oh yeah, it's possible!

Despite the fact that the in-laws are in town, the turkey is cooking, your kids are home from school, the Thanksgiving side dishes are in the oven, the dog is constantly jumping up trying to get a bite of something, and more people are arriving by the minute, you actually can be cool, calm and collected.

The following Thanksgiving dinner ideas will help you get organized: plan the day, run things smoothly, finish with flying colors and allow you to enjoy every bit of it!

Check out my latest book and bust through that procrastination! Available as a paperback, an audiobook and an ebook on Kindle but NO KINDLE NECESSARY. Enjoy!

The Thanksgiving Countdown Time Line

I only have three words to say to those who fully plan out and organize Thanksgiving day: YOU'LL BE THANKFUL! The following time line will help you get started.

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
End Of October

  • Create a folder labeled "Thanksgiving" which will house all lists, recipes and papers having to do with turkey day. This is essential in order to successfully organize Thanksgiving day. What good is it if you can't find the checklists you put so much effort into?
  • Print out this page and put it in your Thanksgiving folder. This is your time line of how to organize Thanksgiving and acts as your to do list. Add to it when necessary.
  • UPDATE: I wrote this post before the existence of Pinterest. Wow, it seems so long ago. :) Anyway, I use Pinterest to keep track of recipes and holiday decor ideas now, so disregard the first bullet points if paper ain't your thing. pin boards or paper file, the point is to have all of your ideas in one place for easy reference.

If you're having more of a Thanksgiving party than a family feast...

  • Make a guest list of those you intend to invite, and put it in your Thanksgiving folder.
  • Gather addresses you don't already have and make and/or order invitations.
  • Send out invitations by Halloween with an RSVP date of no later than the second week in November (this is important for serving sizes, chairs around the table, etc.).

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
First Week Of November

  • Decorate the house with fall decor. This sets the positive mood for the month and inspires you to organize Thanksgiving with some gusto. Keep scrolling for some easy ideas on sprucing up your house for the season.
  • Start brainstorming ideas for what recipes you'd like to prepare and serve on the big day. Do some research on Pinterest, and pin your favorites to a recipes board or a holiday board.

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
Second Week Of November

  • If you send out invitations, tally the responses and call those that haven't replied to be sure of whether or not they are attending.
  • Develop your Thanksgiving dinner menu and gather corresponding recipes (all of which should reside in your Thanksgiving folder if you're doing the paper thing).
  • Create your grocery list. Use the recipes you gathered, examine the expiration dates on items you already have, and take note of the things you are missing. Don't forget things like spices, condiments, etc.
  • Check your inventory (of things other than food) and make a list of missing items. For example...dishes, utensils, glasses, disposable pans, disposable food containers (to give guests left overs), aluminum foil, saran wrap, Ziploc bags, festive napkins, cookware, chairs, tables, decorations, table linens, candles, music.

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
Third Week Of November

  • Clean and organize the house thoroughly from top to bottom (e.g. vacuum, dust, launder linens, wash windows, purge piles, put rogue items way).
  • Get the inventory list (that you made last week and put in your Thanksgiving folder) and stock up on the items you are missing.
  • Clean out the refrigerator and freezer to adequately accommodate groceries and left overs.
  • Have all family members freshened up with haircuts and new Thanksgiving day outfits if necessary. This includes cleaning and/or grooming pets.

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
Beginning Of The Fourth Week Of November (Thanksgiving Week)

  • Get the food shopping list and go to the grocery store.
  • Do as much cooking in the beginning of the week as possible for an easy reheat on Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
The Day Before Thanksgiving

  • Gather random items lying around the house and put them in their proper places.
  • Prepare the turkey and all side dishes (so that all you have to do tomorrow is stick them in the oven).

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas
Turkey Day!

  • Put the turkey and side dishes in the oven.
  • Set the table.
  • Light fragrant candles (guests love a fresh smelling home).
  • Relax while you wait for your guests to arrive and enjoy the day's festivities.

You CAN organize Thanksgiving day, so thankful!

7 Ways To Spruce Up Your Home For Thanksgiving

thanksgiving dinner ideas

The simplest way to transform your home for Thanksgiving is to refresh its accessories like this "grateful" napkin set. Fun!

1. Replace your regular couch pillows with autumn-colored ones and display winter-themed coffee table books.

2. Light candles that smell like Cinnamon, Evergreen trees or baking cookies.

3. Switch out the towels and mats in the bathrooms with Thanksgiving-themed or fall-colored items.

4. Get creative and make a centerpiece or Thanksgiving table decorations for your kitchen and/or dining room table using things from outside.

5. Dress up your front door with a wreath.

6. Refresh your mantle with leaf vines and large orange or red candles.

7. Go to the grocery store and buy an assortment of gourds to disperse throughout the house (i.e. kitchen counter, table by the front door, bathroom counter, front stoop).

Thanksgiving dinner ideas

Here is our front stoop with Brisket, our Pug! I got the variety of pumpkins and the squash at the grocery store - simple and inexpensive way to dress up our front walk way for Fall. AND also serves as a birthday shout out for my husband, who's birthday is in the middle of October.

Creative Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Get creative with the meal! Here are some inspiring ideas for Thanksgiving treats.

  • Let's start with the good old fashioned Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, mmmmm! If you're new to this, be brave and cook the traditional meal yourself. Good luck!
  • Prepare a meal from another part of the country. A customary Thanksgiving dinner is different in Boston than in Austin. Yeehaa!
  • Cater your meal to the little ones and put on a Thanksgiving for kids. Cover the table with white paper, and give the kids crayons to draw what they are thankful for. Serve fun finger foods like Marshmallow Pilgrim Hats and Turkey Cookies!
  • Go with a theme! Prepare a Thanksgiving dinner from another decade or cook a completely vegetarian meal.

5 Things To Do The Day After Thanksgiving

1. Go shopping! The sales are great, and if you don't mind braving the crowds, you could get some holiday shopping done.

2. Exercise. Yesterday was an eating marathon, so do something physical today. Go for a nice long walk with your family and your dog.

3. Organize. (You know I had to throw this one in there.) If you have the day off, then this is the perfect time to do some purging in anticipation of getting gifts in a few weeks.

4. Put some leftovers in containers and bring it to your local homeless shelter. They'll be very thankful. :)

5. Kickoff Christmas! Get your tree or start decorating the house. Tis' the season.

Like the above Thanksgiving dinner ideas? Great! Then you'll love these tips for first-time Thanksgiving hosts and easy Thanksgiving clean up solutions.

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