Creating My Thanksgiving Dinner Timeline to Stay Organized

The holidays are so stressful, and if you’re hosting, stress levels can skyrocket even more. To help you out, I’ve laid out how I plan and prep for Thanksgiving. Looking at my game plan makes my husband stress, but for me, knowing what I have to do and when keeps me organized and keeps the holiday panic to a minimum. Just adapt it for your own needs and repeat for the holidays next month!


I start with making a list of what I want to make and if there’s anything I can sent off for my family to make I do that. Sometimes this helps, other years it hasn’t because my brothers have arrived at my house only to realize they forgot the one dish they made then they turn around and go back to get it and throw off my entire cooking timeline – gah! So, use your judgement there, but if you have helpful family take advantage!

I usually forget some “important” sides so I check on Pinterest for Thanksgiving sides. After I have my list I also write out what I need to make the items to create my shopping list.  I’ll get pantry items the week before and produce when I’m picking up my turkey the week of. I always forget something so I leave enough time to run to the store the day before for miscellaneous items.

My Thanksgiving Dinner Brainstorm

The Timeline

The list is cross referenced when I’m making my Dinner timeline in google calendar. The amount of time the turkey will take in the oven plus the brining process is the first thing I block off and all the other components are worked around the turkey and when I expect dinner to start.

Below is my plan for Wednesday and Thursday, but this might change over Monday when I pick up the turkey and produce. Sometimes once I’m at the store certain things look fresher than what I planned so it’s not locked in until after the turkey pick up trip.


Pre-Thanksgiving google calendar
Wednesday Night Pre-Thanksgiving Plan
Thanksgiving Day Timeline
Thanksgiving Day Timeline

Part of what helps me keep to the timeline is making sure I have a break in the day to relax or eat. If I didn’t, I get so hungry and I pick all day while I prep dinner then I’m not hungry and can’t enjoy the meal I worked so hard to make! I also give a cushion, for instance, the crusty bread dough takes less than 10 minutes to make not the half hour I allotted for.

My husband finds the calendar stress inducing, but since I know it’s keeping me on track and organized it’s the opposite for me. Hope this helps inspire you. I use Goggle Calendars, but even a piece of paper will work!  The entire brainstorm and calendar schedule takes less than an hour but keeps the entire day on track.

Happy Thanksgiving and if you have tips for how you plan out your holiday dinners please let me know in the comments! I’m always trying to streamline the process.

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