Thanksgiving Countdown: What to Do Three Days Ahead

Cyd Converse

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year? Don't miss our Thanksgiving countdown so your feast goes without a hitch.

It seems we no sooner started talking about Thanksgiving and boom - it's here! That means it's time for the next installment of our Thanksgiving countdown!

Wondering how you can streamline preparations and the timing of dishes and desserts on Thanksgiving day? Today is a great day to knock out some prep.

Some people wake up on Thanksgiving morning and do it all in one day, which is incredible. For me? I find that wildly stressful and I prefer things more relaxed.

If you, like me, would rather cross a few things off your list in advance, here's my recommendation for what to do 3 days before Thanksgiving!

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Thaw Your Turkey

If you're cooking a turkey, it's honestly impossible to exaggerate how important it is to make sure you start thawing your turkey at this stage in the game.

If you don't know how to thaw a turkey properly, we've got you covered! 

  1. Remove the turkey from the freezer and place it on a baking sheet or sheet pan and place it in the refrigerator.
  2. Do not remove the wrapping from the turkey before moving it to the refrigerator to begin thawing.
  3. It can take anywhere from 1 to 5 days to thaw a turkey, depending on the size, so you need to get moving on this if you haven't already.

Should you have purchased your turkey a bit late or forgot to take it out of the freezer in time, no worries! There are ways to thaw a turkey fast.

The best way to thaw a turkey faster is to use the so-called cold water method, which can thaw a five pound turkey in as little as two to three hours.

This process is a bit fussy, but ultimately very simple and can save you (and your Thanksgiving celebration) if you find yourself in a pinch with your timing. 

  1. Leave your turkey wrapped and place it inside a very large zip top plastic bag and seal it well.
  2. Next, fill you sink with cold water and place the turkey into the water with the breast side down - use a heavy pan or to hold it in place and prevent it floating to the top
  3. Set a timer for 30 minutes. After the time has passed, drain out the water and refill the sink.
  4. Repeat this process until your turkey is sufficiently thawed. The time will vary based on the size of the turkey.
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Finish Grocery Shopping

If you haven't started your Thanksgiving grocery shopping, do so today. Nobody wants to be in the stores the day before Thanksgiving. Talk about hectic!

Should you be following along with our Thanksgiving countdown, you know we reccomend doing most of your shopping one week before Thanksgiving.

Sometimes that's just not possible or doesn't make sense for the size of your guest list or Thanksgiving menu and that's fine, too.

If you have starte grocery shopping, today should be the day you pick up all those perishable items you waited on last week when grabbing the other goods.

Buy any perishable vegetables with a shorter fridge life including salad greens. Wash greens well, pat dry and store in zip top bags so they're ready to use.

Should you just be starting to shop, get it all done today or tomorrow if possible and avoid those pesky last minute runs to the grocery store.

Before you go shopping or place your grocery order, check your list against our Thanksgiving portion planner so you make sure to get the right quantities.

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Get the House Clean and Organized

With 3 days until Thanksgiving, now is the perfect time to make sure the house is  ready. Declutter the room where you'll be eating, and dust and vacuum.

Pop into the bathrooms to make sure you have fully stocked paper goods and that the sink, floor and toilet are clean and looking fresh.

If need be, give your plates, flatware and serving pieces a fresh cleaning and set aside what you'll need for dinner on Thanksgiving day. 

I also like to plan what serving pieces I plan to use for each dish and label those with sticky notes, which makes it easy for others to help you plate and serve.

Starting with a clean slate on Thanksgiving morning, with dishes and serving pieces cleaned and organized, sets you up for fuss free holiday celebration.

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Prep Desserts and Breads

One final item to consider tackling today or tomorrow is prepping your Thanksgiving desserts and things like breads or rolls that you plan to serve.

Since these things don't really need to be made and then served fresh, it's always a good idea to get a jump on some of the baking ahead of time.

Generally I keep the oven free for just the turkey and any sides that absolutely should be made right before serving. Otherwise, I knock it out early.

With a turkey thawing, groceries purchased, the house looking fresh and clean and your desserts and breads baked, you're well on your way!

Planning a dinner party and need some inspiration?

How about looking for a new slow cooker dinner idea?

We’ve got you covered in our ever-growing Facebook group! If you’re not a member yet, why not?!


We’re chatting cooking techniques, dessert ideas, and everything in between. If you’re already a member, invite your friends to join us too!

Cyd is a native of Upstate New York, born to a family of women who love to cook and host parties. She shares her love of all things food, home and entertaining on her blog, The Sweetest Occasion and on Instagram.

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