With Thanksgiving three weeks from today, you’ve still got a heaping helping of time on your side. Use it to wrangle your guest list into place (leaving room for a few day-of tag-alongs), stock up, and keep from getting your feathers all ruffled in a last-second scramble for plates, drinks, turkey and places to sit.

The Bird

If you’ve got a rough idea of how many meat-eating guests will be on hand, go with around one pound per person – one and a half if you’d like to ensure a stash of leftovers. A huge bird can be comically unwieldy, so consider sacrificing the Big Platter Presentation for the sake of sanity and back strain. Opt for two (or three or more if you have the oven space) smaller birds – and just remember to make sure you’ve got enough roasting pans, foil and other poultry paraphernalia on hand.

If even the teeniest turkey is too big for your crowd, consider paring down to parts – just a breast or a mess of drumsticks. That way, each person gets the meat style they prefer, it cooks more quickly and you’re not stuck on a search for a six-legged Tom.

Stock Up

No matter if you’re serving a mega-bird, a couple of capons or even a tiny Tofurky, we cannot possibly overstate the importance of having stock on hand. Whether you opt for chicken or vegetable, it cannot hurt to have some around to saute sides, stir into stuffing, smooth out gravy or tater lumps and add flavor to just about any dish. It comes in cans or, even better, shelf-stable boxes, and what you don’t use for T-Day, you’ll burn through before the year is out.

Some Buying Guidelines:

Turkey: 1 lb per person, 1 1/2 lbs if you’d like leftovers (this takes the skin, bones and giblets of a whole bird into account)

Stuffing: 3/4 cup (pre-cooked volume) per person

Mashed potatoes or other starchy vegetables: 1/3-1/2 pound of raw potatoes (or squash) per person, 1 whole sweet potato

Other vegetables: 2-4 ounces or 1/2 cup per person

Salad: 1 cup per person

Beverages: 1-2 8 oz. drinks per hour per guest

Ice: 1 lb per person

Other Essentials:


Roasting / baking dishes

Baster or basting brush

Napkins (paper or linen)

Tablecloths and placemats

Serving platters, bowls and utensils

Carving knife

Plates and bowls




Aprons (for additional cooks)

Oven mitts / potholders


Containers for leftovers*

Kitchen towels

Paper towels

Hand towels

Bathroom tissue

Dish soap / hand soap

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