Thanksgiving Checklist and Planner

miniature pumpkins and pinecones. This thanksgiving checklist will make hosting the big dinner a breeze!

In the United States, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Being organized means less stress so it’s time to make a plan! After all, none of us need more stress. 🙂 Use this Thanksgiving Checklist and Thanksgiving planner printable that’s in our resource library to simplify your life (and make sure you aren’t forgetting anything).

If this is your first year to host Thanksgiving or if you are a seasoned pro, I hope that planning ahead makes it the best year yet.

Thanksgiving Checklist


Are you hosting but don’t have space? Most people don’t mind squeezing in. If it’s nice, set up a table outside. Put a kids table up in a bedroom. Be creative. If using your house isn’t an option, check with your church and see if they would let you use a gathering area with a kitchen.


Who are you having over? Make a list of everyone you invite and make note of how many will be coming from each family.

You also need to decide if you will be asking everyone to bring at least one dish. (They will likely offer, so you might as well make it easier on yourself!). Be sure to write down what food/beverage each guest will be bringing.

Thanksgiving Menu

When you plan the menu be sure to consider these categories:

Appetizers (Ideas: Veggie or fruit platter, cheese and crackers, dip)
Sides and Salads (Ideas: mashed potatoes, green beans, lettuce salad, cranberry salad, rolls, sweet potatoes)
Main Dish/Meat (Ideas: Turkey or ham)
Desserts (Ideas: ice cream, pies, whipped cream, cookies, tart)
Drinks (Ideas: water, tea, lemonade, cider, coffee etc)

Shopping List

Once you have your menu made and know what other people are bringing, you can make yourself a shopping list. If you aren’t using glass dishes don’t forget to add paper plates & napkins and plastic silverware and cups to the list. A bag of ice too.

Buy or Borrow

Are there items you need to make hosting go a little more smoothly? Beverage containers, extra chairs, platters etc. You might have friends who would let you use their folding table so you don’t have to buy one.


What are your plans for the day? Spending time eating and visiting? Do you want to have any games available? Activities for the kids? There is no right choice, but just think it through.

Other Meals

Your family will probably want to eat something for breakfast and the second supper/lunch (whichever you aren’t having Thanksgiving dinner at). Maybe have some easy fend for your self breakfast options available.  Do you want to plan on leftovers of the lunch feast for supper? Turkey sandwiches? Just have a plan so you won’t get frustrated when your kids come to you hungry.

To Clean

Make a list of what needs to happen before company arrives at your house. Running the vacuum, cleaning the bathroom, and mopping the kitchen are givens, but what other areas do you need to be sure to tackle?

Now that your brainstorming and organizing is done, it’s time to get detailed. Break your lists and need to dos down by timeline.

What needs to happen

A month before the event: Invite guests, choose a location, and plan your menu.

Two weeks before: Plan games & your shopping list. Purchase non perishables.

One week before: Start those cleaning tasks that you can do in advance. Finish grocery shopping. Round up what your are borrowing from friends. Thaw the turkey sometime after the point!

2 days before: Clean (bathrooms, pick up the toys and clutter, mop etc)

Day before: Start the cooking (make your desserts, salads and cold dishes, prep the relish tray etc) You could even put out tableware and set tables.

Thanksgiving Day: Put the turkey in the oven, make all of the hot dishes, put drinks out. Finish any last minutes items and enjoy the day with your guests.

When you have everything written down and planned out into bite sized tasks, hosting thanksgiving dinner won’t seem so intimidating.

I have a free Thanksgiving planner printable to help you put all of these things organized on paper.  Sign up for the resource library and download them today!

printables from the thanksgiving checklist

printables from our thanksgiving planner printable. Get this Thanksgiving checklist today and make hosting the big day a breeze!


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