Beginner's Luck: A Foolproof Plan for Your First Thanksgiving

Novice hosts, no need to be intimidated by a turkey! Follow this handy timeline for preparing our First-Time Thanksgiving Menu, and you'll get dinner on the table without a hitch.

Related: All of the Turkey Recipes You'll Ever Need

Two Weeks Ahead

Reserve your bird. Whether you're picking up your turkey from your farmer or grocery store, or even ordering online, contact your purveyor and confirm that one will be available when the day arrives.

The Weekend Before

Clean the kitchen; it will help keep you organized and create room in your fridge. Toss any expired foods, wipe surfaces, and gather platters and cookware. Also wash and properly store produce and make the cranberry sauce.

Three Days Before

Thaw your turkey. If using a frozen turkey, defrost on a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom shelf of your fridge. Allow a full day for every four pounds of turkey being thawed.

Make the Herb-Marinated Olives and Garden Veggie Dip.

Two Days Before

Make pie dough and refrigerate.

Toast bread for stuffing and pecans for pie; store separately in airtight containers at room temperature.

Related: 21 New Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas to Try This Year

One Day Before

Trim and peel carrots; refrigerate in a zip-top bag.

Trim Brussels sprouts and shred; refrigerate in an airtight container. Cook pancetta; refrigerate it and drippings separately in airtight containers.

Trim green beans; refrigerate in a zip-top bag. Caramelize onions. Let cool completely; refrigerate in an airtight container.

Make cheese crackers, cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Make pie and let cool completely. Wrap well in plastic and keep at room temperature.

Thanksgiving Day

The morning of: Prepare potatoes, cover, and refrigerate.

3 1/2 hours before: Bring turkey to room temperature; start roas

ting. Make glaze.

2 hours before: Once oven is at 350 degrees, bake potatoes. Bring caramelized onions and cranberry sauce to room temperature. Cook green beans. Assemble stuffing.

1 hour before: Set out cheese crackers and other snacks.

30 minutes before: While turkey and potatoes rest, put stuffing in oven. Cook carrots. Make gravy. Finish Brussels sprouts and assemble green beans.

Call everyone to the table: Dinner's ready!

After Dinner

Pack it. Have airtight containers on hand and encourage guests to bring their own so the leftovers can be easily divvied up.

Plenty of Ideas for What to Do with Your Leftovers

More from Everyday Food:
Quick, One-Pot Meal Ideas To Feed the Whole Family
20 Classic Comfort Food Recipes from Martha Stewart
36 Dinners You Can Make in Just 15 Minutes!
25 Make-Ahead Recipes For a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Day

Our number one new-to-Thanksgiving tip: make whatever you can in advance. These mashed potatoes can be made ahead and frozen until the big day.