Fighting crowds at the grocery store minutes before guests arrive? Save that for the amateurs. This Thanksgiving, you’re starting early. Covering every detail from table décor to turkey garnishes, lifestyle expert and Rue Living Inspirer Camille Styles dishes on her foolproof agenda.
Two Weeks Before
- Inventory your dishes and serving pieces. If you need more of anything, this is the time to purchase, rent, or borrow.
- Choose your tabletop palette and centerpiece. Consider incorporating natural elements. Lay a sprig of berries or dried wheat on linen napkins at each place setting.
One Week Before
- Order the turkey (the star of the show) and purchase bar essentials. Most liquor stores will deliver with advance notice. Bonus points for serving mulled wine or hot cider.
- Finalize your guest list and make place cards for the table.
Five Days Before
- Pick out your outfit and plan your menu. While I love the classics, I always make sure to try out a couple of new dishes to surprise guests. Dishes overflowing with color and flavor are key to a beautiful spread.
Three Days Before
- Give your house a thorough cleaning. Stock the bathroom with towels, extra toilet paper, and aromatic hand soaps. A lit candle in an autumnal scent by the sink is a nice touch.
- Buy your nonperishable groceries, turkey garnishes (rosemary, sage, and thyme are my favorites), and fall accents like pumpkins.
- If you ordered a frozen turkey, plan ahead for thawing in a refrigerator set to 40°F. You should allow approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds.
The Day Before
- Purchase the remaining groceries and prepare any refrigerated items, such as cranberry sauce, shrimp cocktail, or whipped cream for the pumpkin pies.
- Assemble party favors. Everyone loves day-after-Thanksgiving leftovers, so an individual to-go box wrapped in ribbon will satisfy any guest on the way out the door.
- Set the table. Doing this now goes a long way in making you feel prepared later.
- Set up a self-serve drink station. (So you can skip playing bartender all night.)
- Chill white wine and other cold beverages. If there’s no room in the fridge, stash a cooler in the laundry room and fill it with ice.
- Determine how long the turkey should cook based on your method and the turkey’s weight. Start prepping.
- Chop vegetables and begin making stuffing. Roasted dishes can be made a few hours in advance, then gently rewarmed in the oven before serving.
One Hour Before the Meal
- Light the candles and start the music.
- Be sure to leave at least 20 minutes to freshen up before guests arrive, so you can feel your best and greet them at the door with a big smile.
- Dish up your feast family style. Keep platters warm by covering them with foil and stashing them in an oven on low.
- Toast to your holiday hit! Now that you’ve finished all the work, relax and enjoy the rest of the evening with your guests.
Start planning now by visiting our Set the Stage: Chic Thanksgiving Dish Sets & More Boutique, open Wednesday, November 6, at 11AM ET.
By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer
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Camille Styles is the founder and creative director of popular lifestyle blog camillestyles.com, where she shares the creative entertaining ideas that inspire her parties and her life. Camille is also a regular lifestyle contributor to numerous media outlets and does styling work for national fashion and lifestyle brands. Her modern aesthetic and eye for detail come together to create parties that are simply chic and all about fun.