Holiday Countdown

Tame the chaos of the holiday season with this easy-to-follow weekly plan from now until New Year's Eve.

You'd better watch out! The holidays are hurtling toward us faster than a speeding reindeer. And unless you're fully staffed with Santa's little helpers to help you get everything done, things can get pretty hectic. That's where this 10-week planner comes in. It's designed to break up your holiday to-do list into easy weekly tasks so you won't have to rush around at the last minute. You'll see when to order your Thanksgiving turkey, when to knock out make-ahead dishes, when to get Christmas cards in the mail, and more — with plenty of recipe ideas and how-to tips to help you all along the way. Enjoy more, stress less, and put the Happy into Happy Holidays!

Week 1: Oct 24 to Oct 30

Plan your Thanksgiving menu and order your turkey.

holiday dinner with turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, dressing, and gravy
Getty Images

Order your turkey early to ensure you'll get the size and type of turkey you want. Take time to plan your menu and make note if guests are contributing dishes to the feast. This is also a good time to figure out your holiday budget, clear out your pantry, and eat down your freezer to make room for what's to come.

Week 2: Oct 31 to Nov 6

Make and freeze Thanksgiving side dishes. Start your holiday grocery shopping.

A little work now means a lot less work on Thanksgiving. Most Thanksgiving casseroles can be prepped right up to the baking step, then stashed in the freezer until you thaw, top, and bake. Start picking up canned and frozen items on your Thanksgiving shopping list to store until you need them. And if you're celebrating Diwali this week, you might like these traditional Indian recipes.

Week 3: Nov 7 to Nov 13

Make and freeze Thanksgiving desserts.

Yes, you can make and freeze holiday treats including pies, cakes, cheesecakes, and cookies that turn out as fresh and flavorful as the day you made them. Your future self will thank you.

Week 4: Nov 14 to Nov 20

Continue Thanksgiving make-aheads and start on homemade food gifts.

Complete your time-saving make-aheads with snacks, appetizers, and gravy. And if you're thinking of turning out homemade food gifts, now's a good time to get started planning and prepping.

Week 5: Nov 21 to Nov 27

Thaw your turkey and finish make-aheads.

It's turkey week! If your turkey is frozen, you'll need to allow about a day of refrigerator thawing for every 5 pounds of frozen turkey. If you're wet-brining or dry-brining a turkey, check your recipe to see how much time you need. Pop your frozen side dishes and desserts into the refrigerator to thaw overnight.

Week 6: Nov 28 to Dec 4

Crank out those cookies!

Gingerbread Cookie Food Gifts
Sergey Nazarov/Getty Images

Let's get baking! Many home cooks like to streamline things by making batches of cookie dough one day and baking the next. You can also freeze cookies and cookie dough for baking, snacking, and gifting later in the month. And if you're celebrating the Jewish Festival of Lights this week, you might like to check our Hanukkah recipes.

Week 7: Dec 5 to Dec 11

Plan holiday menus and order holiday roasts. Get Christmas cards in the mail.

You're making a list, checking it twice, and you're going to get everything in the mail on time this year. Right? Check out the Holiday Shipping Deadlines from USPS, but why not play it safe and mail things early. Then you can kick back with a hot drink and plan your special holiday meals.

Week 8: Dec 12 to Dec 18

Host an easy Christmas get-together.

We're crossing our fingers and hoping we can all get together safely with our nearest and dearest this holiday. Here are some easy appetizers, drinks, and treats to spread the cheer.

Week 9: Dec 19 to Dec 25

Relax and enjoy your holidays.

With the stress of holiday prep behind you, you're free to enjoy the rest of December! Watch movies, get out for wintertime walks, and savor the season.

Week 10: Dec 26 to Jan 1

overhead view of friends toasting the holidays with cocktails
David Tsay/Meredith

Ring in the new year!

Let's raise a toast to welcome a shiny new year full of fresh starts and good times to come. If your celebrations include Kwanzaa, we have delicious recipes for your feasts.


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