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Holiday Countdown

Planning and executing your perfect Christmas dinner menu doesn't have to be stressful, thanks to the holiday countdown. Learn when to shop for fresh foods, what Christmas recipes to make ahead of time, and how to stay on top of every last detail with the help of your holiday dinner planning timeline.

About a Month Ahead

Countdown - About a Month Before
  • Plan the menu (number of appetizers and side dishes.) Keep a running list on your refrigerator so you can add or delete items.
  • Consider your oven space, the number of burners you have, and your refrigeration space when planning your menu.
  • Don't plan to serve more than 2 dishes that require last-minute preparation.
  • Consider your available space for warming and chilling when planning your appetizers. Some of the appetizers should be able to be made in advance.
  • Incorporate the dishes that guests will bring into your plan.
  • Not sure how much to make to feed your crowd? Click here to see how much you should prepare.
  • Order fresh turkey. If you’re buying a frozen turkey, you still have time, but don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Check out our Holiday Recipes & Menus for inspiration.

4 Days Before

Countdown - 4 Days Before
  • Start defrosting frozen turkey in refrigerator. (If turkey is still frozen when you are ready to use it, run it under cold water.)
  • Make a shopping list and purchase non-perishables.
  • Shop in the early morning or late evening to save time at the check-out line.
  • Stock up on ice to use for beverages.

2 Days Before

PHILADELPHIA New York-Style Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake

Day Before

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole
  • Make casserole side dishes, such as Cheesy Green Bean Casserole, Cheesy Broccoli Casserole or Broccoli and Corn Scallop.
  • Arrange flowers and decorate centerpiece.
  • Get out the cooking and serving utensils, pitchers, platters, gravy boats, and pots and pans you'll need for the next day.
  • Pick up fresh turkey.
  • Set the adults’ and kids’ tables.
  • You can make garnishes such as Green Onion Flowers and Carrot Curls.
  • Make a timetable which lets you know when a dish is to be taken out of the fridge, put in the oven, made on top of the stove, or assembled on the spot.

    • Morning of the Dinner

      STOVE TOP In-the-Bird Directions
      • The fridge will be fairly packed; keep an insulated cooler and plenty of ice handy for extra refrigeration needs. Chill wine or other beverages in fridge or outside on porch.
      • Give yourself 20 minutes to stuff the turkey.
      • Try our STOVE TOP In-the-Bird Directions. Remember, using the microwave is a great way to save time when preparing STOVE TOP Stuffing.
      • Turkey needs to cool for a half an hour after it comes out of the oven. It's a good idea to make the gravy while the turkey rests.
      • Leave about 15 minutes for carving the turkey. Check out our video for inspiration 
      • Check your running list to make sure you haven’t forgotten any dishes.
      Holiday Countdown
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