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Photo: Book Cellar Inc.

Yep, it's time to start counting down the days until turkey time! ShelterPop shows us how, step by step:

Your three-week checklist:
• Set a rough budget for everything: food, drinks, and decorations.
• Invite your guests, if you haven't already.
• Plan your menu, including snacks, the main meal, dessert, and drinks. Be aware of various dietary restrictions your guests may have, and try to be accommodating (but also realize that people are grownups and don't have to eat everything in front of them).
• Decide how you will be cooking your turkey, and what kind of turkey you'll buy (fresh, frozen, organic, etc.). Thinking of ordering a fresh turkey? Check out organizations like Local Harvest to find a turkey farm near you.
• Assess the decorations you have and decide if you're going to buy more, or go DIY (all part of your budget breakdown).
• Begin putting up outdoor décor; if you did a Halloween display, repurpose as much as possible (such as pumpkins).

Your two-week checklist:
• Get a firm commitment from guests if they're coming or not.
• If children are coming, think about what kinds of simple kids' activities you could offer (go old school: a table with crayons and coloring books/other crafts, or board games)
• Plan your table settings and centerpiece. Pull out linens and make sure they're clean.
• Polish your silverware.
• Assess your serving pieces: do you have enough plates, cups, bowls, and platters? What can you borrow from friends?
• If you're buying a frozen turkey, you can buy it now (if you haven't already). Not sure how big your turkey needs to be? The USDA offers this guide for buying and preparing turkey.
• Begin to buy drinks (and if you're serving wine, make sure you've got enough wine glasses)
• Assess your coffee situation. Will your coffeepot suffice, or do you need a larger one (which hopefully you can borrow)?

One week before:
Now, your attention really turns to the food. "You're going to need to go to the grocery at least twice," Coelho says-once for dry ingredients/non-perishables and again a day or so before for your fresh things. Plan your time.

Weekend before Thanksgiving:
• Before you shop, take the opportunity to clean out your fridge and freezer so that you have space for groceries.
• Make your shopping list, and buy as many non-perishable items as you can.
• Begin making what you can ahead of time (relishes, for example).
• Do a thorough cleaning-all the places you don't hit up regularly (behind the couch, your crown molding, and that forgotten, filthy space between the dishwasher and the wall).

• Make your pies: pumpkin pie will easily keep (and maybe even taste better).
• Depending on its size, you may need to start defrosting a frozen turkey. Refer to the USDA guidelines again.
• Make a list of each dish, how far ahead it can be prepared, and set a schedule for the week. Remember that things like broth for stuffing and gravy can be made ahead (even frozen if necessary).

• Buy your perishables, like fresh fruits and fresh veggies, and lettuce for salad, at the market.
• Now is a great time to buy any fresh flowers, or create fresh flower arrangements, or arrangements with pinecones from your yard.
• Finish up any last minute décor projects (such as writing names on place cards).

• Time for spot cleaning: tidy up things like books/magazines, kids' rooms (get them involved in as much as possible), dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the toilets and sinks.
• Put clean guest towels in the bathroom.
• Chill beverages.
• Give your table linens a good pressing.
• Set the table (so that you can focus on cooking tomorrow).
• Set a cooking schedule for Thanksgiving day: know the timing of when everything is going in and out of the oven.

Morning of Thanksgiving
• Follow the cooking schedule you've laid out for yourself.
• Don't forget to pour yourself a glass of wine, and enjoy your guests and the delicious meal!


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