3 Simple Timelines for a Stress-Free Vegan Thanksgiving

Your ultimate checklist for getting everything done for UnTurkey Day.


The mere mention of Thanksgiving brings a smile to anyone’s face (pumpkin pie! mashed potatoes! sweet potatoes covered in vegan marshmallows!), but for the host, it might evoke terror at the thought of cooking for so many people. As someone who loves to entertain, I used to panic and stress out over every single detail, but after several successful dinner parties, I realized that organizing ahead of time ebbs the inevitable craziness of the holidays. Need a simple breakdown of how to get it all done without breaking a sweat? Print this out, stick it to your fridge, and feast away!

Potluck Party

Two Weeks Before

 Send out invitations to your guests using Evite or Facebook. For your omnivore friends who may be new to vegan cooking, include a link to vegan Thanksgiving recipes. Ask your guests to post what they will be bringing and mention that non-cooks can happily bring drinks.

The Week Before

 Check in with your guests if any haven’t replied to get a final count. Ask guests who have RSVPed “yes” to bring to-go containers for leftovers (if there are any!). 

 Decide on the menu (see suggestions below). 

 Make a grocery list and get shopping!

The Day Before

 Prepare any dishes that can be easily re-heated or served cold. Classic Cranberry Sauce, Spinach Roasted Fingerlings, Marinated Kale Salad are all fail-safe options. 

 If serving dessert, make it ahead of time in case it needs to set overnight. 

Thanksgiving Morning

 Pull out all of your plates, cups, silverware, and serving utensils to make sure you have enough. Ditto with chairs!

 Cook in order of how long it takes to make your dishes. Start with the more time-consuming and end with least.

 In addition, plan oven use, making sure to note differences in cooking temperatures and times. 

Thanksgiving Dinner

 Before your first guest arrives, take a deep breath! 

 Preheat the oven for any of your guests’ dishes that need to be warmed up.

Small Soirée

Two Weeks Before

 Plan out your dinner menu. Stick with simple recipes that serve four to six people. 

The Week Before

 Head to the grocery store with your shopping list.

The Day Before

 Prep any dishes that can be made ahead of time.

Thanksgiving Morning

 Start cooking in order of how long each dish takes to make.

Thanksgiving Dinner

 Set the table and serve the drinks. Enjoy!

Gigantic Gathering

Two Weeks Before

 Plan out your menu, opting for dishes that serve a large number of people.

 Assign recipes to certain family members or ask them to bring one appetizer, a dessert, or drinks.

The Week Before

 Go grocery shopping with your list, of course!

 Start cooking dishes that can easily store for several days, such as Two-Cheese Lasagna or Pumpkin Pie.

The Day Before

 Check in with your guests if any haven’t replied to get a final count.

 Prepare appetizers, easily made side dishes, or a big salad.

 Defrost your centerpiece, if necessary.

Thanksgiving Morning

 Cook the centerpiece dish and remaining side dishes.

 Pull out all of your plates, cups, silverware, and serving utensils to make sure you have enough. Ditto with chairs!

 Set up two different serving stations with duplicates of every dish (two bowls of mashed potatoes) so everyone can get to the food easier without waiting too long.

Thanksgiving Dinner

 When guests arrive, serve appetizers first.

 Ask certain guests to assist you during dinner with refilling drinks, clean-up, and dishes.

Suggested Menu

Mushroom Puff Pastry Bites
Hot Caramelized Onion Bacon Dip
Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuits

Sumptuous Shepherd’s Stew
Two-Cheese Lasagna
Thanksgiving Tart

Side Dishes
Gluten-Free Garlicky Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Herbs
Guilt-Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Root Vegetables

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake
Peanut Butter Cup Pie

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