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First-Timer’s Guide to Hosting Thanksgiving

Make your first Thanksgiving hosting experience a resounding success—all you need is our no-stress game plan. This foolproof guide to prep, organization, and timing will make hosting as easy as pie. From grocery planning to those all-important turkey tips, we’ve got it covered.
how to

2 Weeks Before:

  • Confirm the guest list and finalize your recipes. If any of your guests will be bringing specific dishes on Thanksgiving, confirm that as well. 
  •  Make 2 shopping lists, one for perishables like produce and one for non-perishables like spices, frozen foods, and canned goods. 

1 Week Before:

  • Make room for your ingredients in the fridge and freezer. (This is also a great excuse to give your fridge a once-over and clean it out).
  •  Buy your non-perishables and frozen turkey, if you’re using a frozen turkey. You’ll need all that room in the fridge and freezer you just made.

3 Days Before:

  •  Buy your perishables and fresh turkey, if you’re using a fresh turkey.

  • If you already purchased a frozen turkey, start thawing it in the fridge. Estimate 1 day of thawing per 5 pounds of turkey. 

2 Days Before:

  • Make your desserts. Refrigerate frosted, uncut cakes and fruit pies in airtight containers, like this vegan chocolate tart.

1 Day Before:

  •  Make any side dishes that can be reheated or served cold or at room temperature, like this mushroom croissant stuffing.

Thanksgiving Day

  • Take the turkey out of the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting.
  • Let any refrigerated cakes and pies come up to room temperature in an out-of-the-way location.
  • Roast your turkey. 
    • Estimate 15 minutes per pound at 350 degrees F.
    • The turkey’s done when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh and breast reaches 165 degrees F.
    • Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil, for 30 minutes to keep the meat juicy.
  • While the turkey roasts:
    •  Make any additional sides, like salads.
    • Ask the guests to help set the table and set out any pre-meal appetizers.
  • While the turkey rests, reheat your sides and make gravy.

Turkey Tips

How big of a turkey should I buy?

If you want to send guests home with leftovers, 1 ½ pounds per person. If you don’t want leftovers, 1 pound per person.

What do I do if the turkey is underdone?

Cover the breast loosely with foil to prevent the skin from burning and continue to roast, checking the temperature until it reaches 165 degrees. (Tip: a probe thermometer will let you keep a constant eye on the interior temperature of the bird.)

What do I do if the turkey is overdone?

Slice the breast and soak in warm broth to re-moisten. Serve with extra gravy.

Check out our Thanksgiving recipes to help you plan a delicious meal!

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