Thanksgiving Countdown

Follow this “to do” list all month long to stay on top of your holiday game plan.
Woman setting table

Some people thrill at the thought of hosting Thanksgiving; others pall at the notion of gigantic, slippery turkeys, solid logs of canned cranberry and a house full of guests. Whichever group you fall into, we’ve taken the guesswork out of it with this checklist.

Early November
  • Plan your menu – decide which items can be made ahead of time and frozen.
  • Make sure you have the proper kitchen equipment, and plan out your cooking times. You won’t be able to put everything in the oven at once.
  • Prepare guest list and send invitations.
  • Familiarize yourself with our Best-Ever Slimmed-Down Turkey and Gravy recipe.
  • Figure out what size turkey you’ll need, and order it.
  • Make turkey stock and freeze it.
  • Decide on your table setting/room décor/music, and pick an overall theme.
  • Put together a list of kid activities to keep them busy.
  • Because it’s a busy time be sure to create a workout schedule – it will keep your weight-loss on track and help with stress. Even on the most time-crunched days, you can fit in a 20-minute walk.
  • Ask for some of your guests to bring dishes so you don’t have to do it all.
  • Make a double batch of low PointsPlus® values soup, and a warming casserole or lasagna, and freeze in single and double-size portions so you’ll have a few homemade meals ready for that last week. Try this Spicy Black Bean Soup, a Greek-inspired Meat Moussaka or the delicious and easy Slow Cooker Lasagna.
Saturday November 23
  • Go shopping for make-ahead or non-perishable items including drinks.
  • Clean the house.
Sunday November 24
  • Have a fun family day — go for a bike ride, have a chilly weather picnic (think soups in a flask and bundling up in layers), or just chill out with some board games and Mulled Apple-Cranberry Cider.
  • Make pie crusts, cakes, bread — and get the family to help.
Monday November 25
  • Prepare table setting — polish silver, make sure glasses sparkle, press linens, assemble serving platters.
  • Start defrosting turkey.
  • Make the Cranberry-Orange Relish
Tuesday November 26
Wednesday November 27
Thanksgiving day
  • 7:30am: Take the turkey out of the fridge. Double-check when you need to put your turkey in the oven, remembering to leave enough time for preheating.
  • 8am: Have a hearty breakfast with plenty of protein and fiber, like this Asparagus, Bacon and Cheese Strata, to keep you going while you prepare the meal, and to cut down on the likelihood of nibbling.
  • 10:30am: Prepare the Apple-Topped Mashed Sweet Potatoes, put in the fridge.
  • 12:30pm: Have a light lunch low in PointsPlus values to keep you going so you don’t overdo it at dinner. Take some time after your lunch to have a cup of tea and read a book, even if it’s just 20 minutes hiding in the bathroom. Make it known that interruptions are unwelcome — and unwise!
  • 2:30pm: Put the Apple-Topped Mashed Sweet Potatoes in the oven.
  • 3:00pm: As guests arrive welcome them with appetizers, low-fat cheeses, olives, wine, and 0 PointsPlus values dips.
  • 3:15pm: Put the Stuffing with Sage and Chives in the oven.
  • 3:30pm: Take the turkey out of the oven, make the gravy.
  • 3:45pm: Finish making the Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts.
  • 4pm: Bon appétit!
  • 6pm: Rouse your household for a brisk walk — minus two designated clearer-uppers. (They can earn activity PointsPlus values for cleaning if they do it with gusto!)
  • 7pm: Make sure leftovers are safely stored. If you’re feeling generous, prepare doggy bags for guests.
  • Check out the Food and Recipes section of for creative ways to spruce up leftovers.
  • Plan your food and activity for the weekend — many people fall off the wagon, often because they feel they’ve been “good” on Thanksgiving itself.
  • Get a good workout in, to motivate you to stay on track between now and the holidays.
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