How to Get Organized For Thanksgiving + Free Printable Checklist


With this complete guide and free printable checklist, you’ll finally be able to get organized for Thanksgiving. Face this holiday with a clear mind and a solid plan.

How do you get organized for Thanksgiving? Are there sticky notes all over the place? Or do you just wing it and pray you don’t lose your ever-loving mind? Today we’re sharing planning tips and advice to help you host the best Thanksgiving ever. We’ve even included a free printable Thanksgiving checklist to make your life easier.

Your Complete Guide to Hosting Thanksgiving. Everything you need to know. Get organized. Stay organized. A woman's hand setting a table for Thanksgiving

Wondering where to begin? Get our FREE guide, The 30-Minute Organizing Secret, and discover easy ways to overcome the chaos of clutter – even with kids at home!

How to Get Organized for Thanksgiving

Having a plan will save you so much time and stress. This guide has everything you need to know to get organized for Thanksgiving, so you can begin marking off the items on your list and enjoy time with your family.

Make this guide even more efficient with our Clutter Keeper Holiday Planner. It has every in it from a meal-planner and printable grocery list.

How to Get Organized for Thanksgiving, table place setting with linen napkin, copper utensils, acorns and glasses of water

How to Organize Your Schedule for Thanksgiving

One of the first things you should organize is your schedule, especially if you have tons of parties and events coming up.

The worst thing you can do is overbook yourself and leave no time for relaxation. You need to schedule a time to decompress and breathe.

There are two main ways to organize everything – electronically and on paper.

The Best Planning Tips for Thanksgiving, napkins with copper napkin rings on a table sprinkled with acorns

Use Online Calendars

One of the most efficient ways to organize your events is by using an online calendar. The best thing about calendar apps is that you can share them with people. You can create events and put them on everyone’s calendars all at once.

No more calling or texting and reminding everyone a bunch of times or risking miscommunication. The event is all there on the calendar.

Another benefit? You can access them almost anywhere, whether you have your phone with you or you are at home on your computer.

Some of the most popular online and shareable calendars include:

  • iCal – Apple Calendar – If your family all uses apple products, then this will easily sync. It can integrate with Pages, Sheets, Notes, and Mail.
  • Google Calendar – This is a simple option for both Android and Apple users. It integrates easily with Google Drive.
  • Cozi Calendar – No matter what type of phone, Cozi works with all of them the same. You can create lists and assign different calendars to different family members.
  • Trello – Trello is a project management tool that can also work for families. You can create different boards for different tasks (like for each event, or each family member). Plus it has one master calendar for all of it.
How to Plan the Best Thanksgiving Ever, overhead image of a charcuterie filled with grapes, cheeses, nuts and sliced meats as an appetizer for Thanksgiving dinner

Use Paper Planners and Calendars

Some people remember things better when they physically write them down. Is that you? Paper planners and calendars can be really useful. It’s a physical reminder and something you can see constantly.

Phones and apps are easy to silence and ignore. But the calendar hangs up on the wall as a constant reminder of upcoming plans and appointments.

Plus, they are just a lot of fun to decorate!

Use The Clutter Keeper Thanksgiving Planner

Go snag the Clutter Keeper Thanksgiving Planner! Then, you can use it on your tablet or print it out and write on it with pens and markers.

Inside this planner, you’ll find:

  • Menu and grocery list to record all the dishes you’re planning to make for your feast and the ingredients you need to buy to make them.
  • Cooking schedule to easily track what time everything needs to go into the oven so it’s all ready at the same time for dinner
  • Guest list to know who’s in and what they’re bringing
  • Place cards beautifully designed to coordinate with your planner
  • Organizing checklist to take the guesswork out of what you need to get done every week leading up to Thanksgiving

Go get your Thanksgiving Planner now!

If you are going to rely on a paper calendar, set up a family command center. Set it up somewhere that everyone will see it.

You also want to keep a planner in your purse or bag at all times so you can write things down as plans are made.

Some of the most popular types of paper planners include:

Organize Your Home

After you have your schedules all organized and sorted, you will need to organize your home, especially if you are hosting company for the dinner.

How to Get Your Home Ready to Host Thanksgiving, image of gray decorative pumpkins with gold stems

Honestly, even if you aren’t hosting, you are going to be so relieved to have an organized home when you come home from everyone else’s parties. It just feels relaxing to collapse in a clean bedroom and house.

This is not the time to try and completely organize your entire house. With everything else you have going on, you need to prioritize and maybe even fake a clean house.

The most important areas that you need to organize in your home if you are hosting the party are:

  • Kitchen
  • Living Room
  • Bathroom

Focus on making sure your home is functional more than anything. Here are the questions you need to answer as you are cleaning and organizing your home for Thanksgiving.

  • Is there enough seating for everyone?
  • Is there enough room in the fridge for all the food?
  • Is the kitchen clean enough for all the cooking?
  • Is the bathroom stocked with toilet paper and soap?
  • Are all my loose belongings put away?

That’s it! You just want to make sure the house is ready for company so you aren’t scrambling last minute to clean everything up.

Organize the Thanksgiving Meal

Next, you’ll need to organize your Thanksgiving food. This part involves making sure you know when to cook things and how to schedule food in the oven.

There are a few different steps involved here, so let’s go through them one-by-one.

Genius Ideas to Help You Host Thanksgiving Dinner, overhead image of a pie crust next to pumpkin pie filling, flour and cinnamon, ready to be assembled and baked for Thanksgiving day

1. Create a Thanksgiving Day menu

The most important thing is to know what you are going to cook, so the first step is to create a Thanksgiving menu. The entire Thanksgiving Day meal hinges on what the menu will look like.

Check off the food as you cook it. Download the blank printable Thanksgiving menu from the picture below from Mom’s Bistro.

After you know what you are going to cook, create a shopping list. Check off each recipe when you add the ingredients to your shopping list so you don’t forget a single item.

Keep a note on your menu if anyone has any dietary restrictions. If someone has allergies, make sure you know how you are going to cook the food to minimize exposure.

Here are some common dietary restrictions and their abbreviations. Use them to save space on your menu.

  • Gluten-Free (GF)
  • Dairy-Free (DF)
  • Vegetarian (VGT)
  • Vegan (VG)
  • Keto (KT)
  • Low-Carb (LC)
  • Nut-Free (NF)

2. Write out a cooking schedule

To save yourself the insanity of trying to figure out how to bake and cook everything with just one stove and oven, set up a cooking schedule. Write out how long it takes for certain things to cook/bake and at what temperatures.

Running A Household has a free printable cooking timeline that you can follow. If you follow it, you start at 8:30 in the morning and you’ll have everything on the table by 12:30 p.m.

3. Let others sign up to bring food

It’ll save you a lot of time and work if you allow people to bring sides – especially things that require an oven or stove.

You can call or text people and keep a running list in your planner.

Or, you can use a free online signup form. Just email or text everyone the link, they sign up, and it automatically emails them to remind them. You don’t have to do any of the work.

Plus, everyone can see what’s on the list. There won’t be any duplicates.

Some of the best free sign up sites are:

How to Host the Best Thanksgiving, overhead image of a slice of pumpkin pie with a bite on a fork ready to be enjoyed

4. Do food prep ahead of time

Finally, do as much food prep ahead of time as you can. Take a day and chop up all your veggies, pre-mix the marinades and sauces, and put your ingredients into groups.

Doing the food prep ahead of time will speed up the cooking process. Plus, it will show you whether you have enough room in the fridge for all your food.

The Kitchn has a fantastic guide for what you can make ahead of time and how to store it.

5. Make a Plan for leftovers

Chances are, you are going to have more food than you know what to do with after the meal is over.

Don’t let any of this feast go to waste. Buy enough food storage containers for all your foods. Here are some things you can do with leftover Thanksgiving food:

  • Hand them out to guests – let them take some food home (less for you to store!)
  • Reuse the food in other recipes later that week
  • Freeze them

No matter which you decide, you need to have enough bags/food storage containers to keep them sealed and fresh.

Organize the thanksgiving details

After you have all the big things organized, you’ll be able to focus on the nitty-gritty details. These are the things that if you overlook them, it’s no big deal. But planning ahead for them will give you a sense of control in the midst of all the chaos.

Here are the last-minute details that you need to remember:

  • Where will people park?
  • Who is going to clean up?
  • What’s the crowd flow for getting food going to look like?
  • Will there be any games or other forms of entertainment?

How to Get Organized for Thanksgiving – A Free Printable Checklist

Now that you know how to get organized for Thanksgiving, how about a free printable checklist to keep it all in one place?

We thought you’d like that!

Sign up to our FREE e-mail course, 5 Secrets to Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner. In this special series, I’m sharing tips, tricks and essential tasks that will help you organize your Thanksgiving dinner from start to finish including a FREE printable Thanksgiving Checklist.

You’ll find the FREE printable Thanksgiving Checklist breaks everything down into clear, actionable steps in a week-by-week approach and leaves plenty of room for your own notes and additions. Grab one for yourself, and share the FREE e-mail series with any friends who could use this fantastic resource!

One Month Before

The month before is all about big-picture planning. So this is when you will decide:

  • What you will cook
  • What you are going to outsource
  • Who you are going to invite
  • When the dinner will be held
  • Where the dinner will be held

Two Weeks Before

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, begin to make your shopping lists. These are the different lists you should make:

  • Grocery shopping list
  • List of needed kitchen tools
  • Who is bringing different side dishes
  • Confirmed guests
  • Plan the Thanksgiving decorations
  • House-cleaning tasks/chores

One Week Before Thanksgiving

The week before is all about getting things done ahead of time. The more you can do this week, the less you’ll have to worry about on the big day.

Here are a few ideas of things you can do the week before.

  • Buy the turkey
  • Pre-chop your veggies
  • Get your table ready (make sure you have enough place settings)
  • Delegate cleaning chores for after the meal
  • Make and freeze the pie dough (or the entire pie)
  • Make and freeze homemade stock
  • Make and freeze the homemade rolls
  • Take inventory – do you have enough toilet paper, napkins, dishes, etc for everyone?

Three Days Before

A few days before the big meal is when you prepare for all the festivities that are about to happen.

  • Thaw the turkey
  • Go shopping for anything you might have missed
  • Make the perishable things (like dips and veggie platters)
  • Make the cranberry sauce
  • Buy the drinks
  • Plan activities
  • Clean the house

The Day Before

It’s almost time! Here are the things you can do the day before Thanksgiving to get ready for it.

  • Set the table
  • Finish any last-minute baking
  • Cook sides that can be reheated the day of
  • Finish all the food prep
  • Organize the cooking schedule for the next day
  • Get plenty of sleep

On Thanksgiving – Last-Minute Tasks

Today is the big day! It’s all about spending time with friends and family. Organize your cooking schedule so you know what to do when and you have more time to chat and laugh.

All of the rest of the tasks have to do with cooking, so it will change based on your menu. But here is an example of things you can do on Thanksgiving Day.

  • Pre-heat the oven and get the turkey cooking
  • Put the wine and beer in the fridge
  • Make the mashed potatoes
  • Cook the side dishes first that can be served at room temperature
  • After the turkey is done, make the gravy and the stuffing
  • Reheat/cook any hot side dishes
  • Put the food into serving dishes
  • Carve the turkey
  • Rewarm the desserts in the oven

That’s it!

After the meal is over, you can refer to your clean-up list and the chores you delegated. It should be a breeze.

Free printable Thanksgiving checklist to help make hosting Thanksgiving dinner easier for you

Stay Organized for Thanksgiving

Congratulations! You just discovered how to get organized for Thanksgiving without losing your mind.

There are two secrets that really organized people know:

  1. Ask for help
  2. Do as much as you can ahead of time

And of course, a good to-do list never hurts either.

Above all, know yourself. How do you work best? Do you prefer to delegate? Or do you enjoy doing the cooking? Create a task list that utilizes your strengths so that you can really enjoy this holiday.

It’s about sharing in love and gratitude and remembering your blessings. Don’t let it overwhelm you.

Struggling to get motivated? Sign up to get our FREE guide, The 30-Minute Organizing Secret, and discover easy ways to overcome the chaos of clutter – even with kids at home!

More Holiday Organization Ideas

The holidays can involve so much planning. Don’t let that take the fun out of the celebrations. Here are some more holiday organization guides that will help you stay organized during this busy time.

Everything You Need to Know to Organize Thanksgiving. Your Complete Organization Guide.

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