Make lists: guest list, shopping lists, menu – including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, household chores, table/bar/buffet settings, seating plan, cooking schedule, decor

Make ahead and freeze pie dough, bread dough, stock, soups, desserts

Shop in advance for as many non-perishables as possible. Nothing sours the holiday mood more than long check-out lines

Whenever possible, buy a fresh turkey; not frozen or pre-frozen. Order it in advance so you can get the size and quality you need

If you must buy a frozen bird, make the time to defrost it properly and completely. The safest way is in the fridge and may take up to three days depending upon the size. Place it in a large enough pan so it doesn’t drain on your refrigerator shelf

Clean out your fridge and freezer so you have plenty of room for storage

Recruit prep-buddies and shopping helpers

Have plenty of storage containers ready and ‘to-go’ containers on hand for sending leftovers home with guests

Set your table one or two days before the big event / set up the bar or drinks table / arrange the buffet with serving pieces – place a piece of paper on each so you know what it’s for and can easily grab the right piece when ready to dish up

Prepare as many items the day before as possible, including your mise en place: stuffing/dressing ingredients, salads and side dish components, garnishes, sauces. Make as few items the day of as is reasonable. This is not only easier on you but the oven, as well

Don’t forget to have plenty of ice on hand – a 5 lb. bag of ice will serve 6 people

If you’re having a later dinner, you may want to have some simple snacks available – especially if guests are enjoying the football games. Herbed or spiced nuts, simple cheeses and lighter salamis, olives, crackers or flatbreads will take the edge off until the dinner bell rings

Chill wine, beer, soft drinks – if your fridge is stocked, use large tubs filled with ice. The bathtub works too!

Preheat your oven Thanksgiving morning

Schedule break times to give yourself a breather