Cross these items off your to-do list ASAP.
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Thanksgiving leftovers in take-away box wrapped with string
Credit: Chelsea McNamara Cavanaugh

Thanksgiving is just one week away, which means it's time to start crossing tasks off your to-do list. Luckily, there are a number of things you can get done well advance of this food-focused holiday. From grocery shopping and organizing your cooking and tabletop essentials to creating a schedule and making a few easy dishes, here's what you should plan to get done in the week leading up to Turkey Day.

1. Go Grocery Shopping

While you might want to wait to buy delicate items like salad greens until a few days before Thanksgiving, we'd recommend getting the brunt of your shopping done this weekend. The first step is to check off your grocery shopping list. Hardy vegetables like carrots, parsnips, beets, potatoes, and squash keep particularly well. Bonus: Your grocery store likely won't be out of anything yet!

2. Stock Up on Materials to Pack Leftovers

Beautifully packaged leftovers make the ultimate Thanksgiving party favor. As for some of our go-to materials to have on deck? Rectangular takeout boxes and 2-ounce condiment containers (the latter holds gravy and cranberry sauce). These are essential for making "gobbler kits." Here's how to prepare yours:

  1. Buy your favorite rolls or sandwich bread and portion them into resealable plastic bags so they stay fresh.
  2. The day before, cut up the cheese of your choice (a Brie or an aged cheddar would be our pick) and store the slices in an airtight container in the refridgerator.
  3. After the big meal, carve up the rest of the turkey and divvy it up into the takeout boxes with the bread, sauces, cheese, and a small scoop of leftover stuffing.

3. Plan Activities for the Kids

Activities dedicated just for the little ones in your family will make the holiday that much more special. Take a turkey paper hat, for example. All the adults need to do is prep the paper headband (so the kids can color it in) by downloading our template. Having another fun, easy craft like these Thanksgiving placemats ready to go is the best way to keep the kids' table entertained as they await mealtime. Pick up the materials after your grocery run this weekend.

4. Create a Cooking Schedule

Based on what you've already prepped, figure out what your kitchen game plan is leading up to the big day. That way you can keep track of what's going in the oven or on the stovetop and what needs to be made fresh or simply reheated. We recommend starting the meal prep at 9 a.m. by removing the turkey from the brine and letting it stand for 2 hours if you plan on serving this main dish for your meal. The last steps come at 4 p.m., which includes making side dishes, such as baked potatoes.

5. Prep Dishes and Cookware

Whether you're dusting off your fancy china or simply using more of your everyday dishware, start washing everything now. Your dishwasher is going to be more occupied than you think as we get closer to Thanksgiving.

This also means sprucing up your carving board, carving knife, roasting pan, casserole dish, and any other necessary kitchen equipment that you don't use regularly. Make sure everything is washed and ready to be put to work on Turkey Day.

6. Clean Up Your Space

Now's the time to organize your fridge to make room for what's to come—don't forget to toss any expired foods and wipe down surfaces. And knew this one was coming: Cross any major housekeeping tasks off your list now so that your home is in tip-top shape and ready to welcome guests.

7. Make Cranberry Sauce

This Thanksgiving staple is one of those dishes that tastes even better after the flavors have some time to mingle in the fridge. Our glorious ginger- and clove-spiced version is great paired with ham and can be made up to a week in advance. We suggest bringing the sauce to room temperature before serving. You can even make a double batch at once so you can freeze the other half for another holiday meal.

8. Whip Up a Compound Butter

Compound butters are easy, delicious ways to take your dinner rolls to the next level. Mix in festive flavors like cranberry and orange, then store in the fridge for up to a week. This Compound Butter recipe is one of our favorites. It's infused with herbs, including parsley and chive, to serve with dishes like a roasted salmon or another main.

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