If you’re hosting your first Thanksgiving in your new home in Irvine, you’ve got a lot on your mind – but this quick checklist will help you keep track of what needs to happen (and when it needs to happen) so you can have a great time with your guests.

Pre-Thanksgiving Checklist for First-Time Hosts

First things first: Make a plan early. (Like now.) Start planning where you want guests to sit, where you’re going to put all the food (especially if you’re having a buffet-style dinner) and where everyone is supposed to congregate.

From there:

  • Create a menu. If you’re going to try a new recipe for anything on Thanksgiving, try cooking it today to make sure you have it nailed down. Otherwise, it’s best to wait until after the big day to try anything new.
  • Get your turkey at least two weeks out. You’ll typically need between three-quarters and one pound of turkey for each person. Freeze it, but remember, you need one day of thawing for every four pounds of turkey.
  • Set the table the night before Thanksgiving to save yourself time on the big day.
  • If you’re having overnight guests, make sure their rooms are set up and ready for them the day before they arrive.
  • Cook everything you can ahead of time, like mashed potatoes, pies, and casseroles. (You can even buy the pies, and nobody will judge you… probably.)
  • Clean every room in the house the day before. Empty the dishwasher and trash cans, put up fragile items so kids can’t get them… you know the drill.

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