Seven Steps to Creating the Perfect Thanksgiving Feast

We've put together lots of great menus for your Thanksgiving meal. But if you feel like venturing out on your own, here are seven steps to designing your own menu. Then browse our best Thanksgiving recipes to choose your dishes. Need more menu and recipe ideas? Head over to the Holiday Recipes and Entertaining message board.

1. There are so many possibilities for dishes to serve. Start by answering these three questions that will narrow your choices down to a manageable number.

  • How much time do you have?
  • Do any of your guests have special diets or allergies?
  • Is there a family favorite dish that must be on the table or it just won't be Thanksgiving?

2. Then, think about taste, texture, temperature and color. The best meals incorporate dishes that complement each other and mix various tastes, textures, temperatures and colors. An example of this, on a small scale, is a crisp green salad, hearty chicken noodle soup and warm bread.

3. Once you've chosen your dishes, write the menu down. This is step one in creating a plan.

4. Print out the recipes you are using and read through them. Read through them again. Decide what can be made ahead and what needs last-minute attention.

5. Write out your shopping list. You may want to spread the items out over a few shopping trips.

6. Make your plan. Start from when you want to serve dinner and work backward to figure out when you need to get started. Take a look at A Hassle-Free Thanksgiving for the Complete Beginner for an idea of how this looks.

7. Get cooking! And, enjoy.

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