The Ultimate Countdown to Thanksgiving

Our favorite ways to make the most of the season

Fall-themed tablescape

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

It might just be us, but it seems that the end of the year has a "blink and you'll miss it" quality about it. The summer often feels endless and full of possibility: long days full of sunshine, just waiting to be filled with adventure. But once school is back in session the days all kind of run together—one minute you're buying school supplies and the next you're fighting to stay awake for the ball drop on New Year's Eve.

Don't get us wrong, we love this time of year. These next few months will be full of delicious food and fun get-togethers with family and friends, after all. But if you forget to slow down and take it all in, these special moments can pass us by.

In order to make sure we remain present (and do all of the things), we've created the Ultimate Countdown to Thanksgiving. Our countdown will help you (and honestly, help ourselves) prepare for the upcoming holiday and make the most of the season. We have tips and tricks for preparing your home for hosting as well as suggestions for keeping the fall spirit alive. Follow along each day (and share your progress with us on Instagram @TheSpruceOfficial!) and get ready for your best Thanksgiving yet.

Four Weeks to Thanksgiving

November 1 (27 Days to Thanksgiving)

Pack away your Halloween decorations (there's just something unnerving about seeing spooky tableaus in November, yeah?) and plan some time for yourself and bring your fall decorations front and center. Think: cornucopias, leaves, pumpkins, straw, corn, and gourds. Decorate your mantel and front porch steps, or wrap a leafy garland around your staircase railing. There are plenty of creative ideas out there for sprucing up your home for autumn. It's time to pack away the faux cobwebs and kick fall decorating into full swing!

Basket of pumpkins and a blanket next to bench
The Spruce / Candace Madonna

November 2 (26 Days to Thanksgiving)

Sure, everyone talks about spring cleaning, but trust us, fall cleaning is a thing and today is the perfect day to get started. Use our fall cleaning checklist to make sure you don't miss any spots around your home. Getting this done early in the month makes it much easier to tidy up down the road before hosting guests.

November 3 (25 Days to Thanksgiving)

On Sundays, we DIY. Throw an impromptu DIY party with your family and get crafty by painting pumpkins (they're not just for Halloween, yanno). If you've had your fill of gourds (we get it), try a fun fall-themed DIY project, like making a wreath or preserving fall leaves. Be sure to share your seasonal projects with us on Instagram!

November 4 (24 Days to Thanksgiving)

Practice your hand at creating some sweet treats for Thanksgiving day—it is National Candy Day after all! Whip up candy or caramel apples, chewy caramels, and chocolates to munch on—all to celebrate the holiday and share with friends of course...though we won't tell if you decide to keep it all for yourself.

November 5 (23 Days to Thanksgiving)

Reach out to friends and family members who may be joining you for Thanksgiving so you can try and get a rough head count. Inquire about dietary restrictions, what they'd like to bring or see on the table, and give them details on the timing. November can be a busy month, so it's best to give people plenty of time to plan ahead dates and travel arrangements.

November 6 (22 Days to Thanksgiving)

Start researching ideas for your Thanksgiving get together. This doesn't have to be just recipes either. Look into decoration ideas, table settings, games, conversation starters, and even some party prep hacks. It's always a smart idea to have an arsenal of entertainment ideas before a party. If there's every a lull in the conversation or people are looking for things to do post-meal, you'll be ready.

November 7 (21 Days to Thanksgiving)

Go apple picking today! Or plan a weekend date to do so. There's nothing better than a crisp apple for snacking, baking, and decorating. It's also the perfect time of year to visit farmers' stands for fresh autumn produce and treats like seasonal jams and baked goods.

Three Weeks to Thanksgiving

November 8 (20 Days to Thanksgiving)

Happy National Cappuccino Day! Treat yourself to a coffee or buy one for someone who loves it. Not a fan of coffee? Try a pumpkin-spiced chai or a seasonal tea. Fill up your favorite mug, grab a book, and get cozy.

Cup of tea on tray with candle, spoon, and honey
The Spruce / Candace Madonna

November 9 (19 Days to Thanksgiving)

Walk around a few outdoor markets today or visit local artisans to buy things like hand-poured candles or fresh fall fruits and veggies. A lot of the one-of-a-kind items can be perfect holiday gifts.

November 10 (18 Days to Thanksgiving)

Today is Forget-Me-Not Day. Use today as a chance to catch up with friends and family members you've lost touch with or have been meaning to connect with. Send a quick text, call them up, or surprise them with a cute card in the mail. 

November 11 (17 Days to Thanksgiving)

Happy Veteran's Day! Call up a veteran you know and thank him or her for serving or take them out for a meal. If you're not close to anyone, take time to educate yourself or your family about the importance of today. Take it a step further by writing thank you cards and dropping them off at places like the VA hospital.

November 12 (16 Days to Thanksgiving)

Take time for an outdoor break during lunch, after work or during the day. There's nothing quite like breathing in crisp, fresh fall air. Enjoy the fall weather—before the rain and snow really start to kick in.

November 13 (15 Days to Thanksgiving)

Whip up a simmer pot recipe you love. Then use it all throughout the season to make your home always feel autumnal. Add spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise and fruits like oranges, apples, and cranberries. The possibilities are endless!

Simmer pot ingredients
The Spruce / Candace Madonna

November 14 (14 Days to Thanksgiving)

Assign responsibilities for the day-of. If you have kids, give them tasks like setting the table, helping with dishes, clearing the table, or assisting with cooking. Split up responsibilities with you and your partner so no one feels too stressed or overwhelmed during the holiday.

Two Weeks to Thanksgiving

November 15 (13 Days to Thanksgiving)

Pick up all non-perishables today. If you stay ahead of the game, you won't have to worry about grocery stores selling out during the week of Thanksgiving. It's also a great time to grab things like decorative items, napkins, and beverages.

November 16 (12 Days to Thanksgiving)

Confirm your guest list for Thanksgiving Day and take note of what everyone is bringing so you don't prepare too much or too little of something. Take stock of what you already have, too, before you head out for another grocery run.

November 17 (11 Days to Thanksgiving)

Volunteer today. Whether it's serving meals at a shelter or picking up coats for a winter clothing drive, find a charity or organization you and your friends and family are passionate about and find out how you can help. Fall and winter can be especially tough seasons for people, and you'll feel good about being able to give back to your community and a cause you care about.

November 18 (10 Days to Thanksgiving)

Check and make sure you have all the necessary tools and supplies for cooking and hosting. Do you have enough plates, flatware, and cups for everyone? Are your tablecloths and placemats clean and ready to go? Do you have the right kitchen gadgets for cooking? Take note and get everything you need ahead of time, before the rush begins.

November 19 (9 Days to Thanksgiving)

Turn off your phone and make time for some analog fun with a low-key, creative night. Choose a project that'll help your home look fantastic for the upcoming Thanksgiving celebration. Try your hand at creating a pretty autumnal floral arrangement or gourd display. Middle-of-the-week after-work activities are always a treat to get your mind off of stressors.

cat on dresser next to fall decor
The Spruce / Margot Cavin

November 20 (8 Days to Thanksgiving)

Plan out your tablescape and special Thanksgiving decorations today. Think about seating and write out place cards for your guests. Read our explainer on how to set a formal dinner table.

November 21 (7 Days to Thanksgiving)

Clean out your refrigerator. Make sure there's plenty of space for the turkey, dishes that need to be chilled, and room for leftovers!

One Week to Thanksgiving

November 22 (6 Days to Thanksgiving)

Buy your turkey today. You can keep it frozen, but buying in advance prevents any last-minute issues. However, if you purchased an extra large frozen turkey, take it out to begin thawing. It's also National Stuffing Day! It's never too early to enjoy one of the best Thanksgiving side dishes. Test out a new recipe and share the meal with family or friends as a teaser to what will be served on the big day.

November 23 (5 Days to Thanksgiving)

Clean out and organize your pantry in preparation for all your food and drink items. Donate or store any nonperishables that still have a long while before their expiration dates. Now is also a good time to clean out other parts of your kitchen and dining area. It'll make it easier to find things before the main event and keep your home clean and organized during the festivities.

November 24 (4 Days to Thanksgiving)

Read a book or articles about the history of Native Americans. Have an honest conversation about what you've learned with friends, family, or your children. 

November 25 (3 Days to Thanksgiving)

If you bought a frozen small turkey, take it out to thaw in the refrigerator. The USDA recommends allowing approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds of turkey to thaw in a refrigerator set at 40 °F or below.

Now is also a great time to prepare sleeping arrangements and other shared spaces for any overnight guests. Make sure there are enough clean towels, sheets have been changed, and bathrooms and bedrooms have been tidied.

November 26 (2 Days to Thanksgiving)

Let's rearrange some furniture! If you have to add chairs or a leaf to your dinner table, or rejigger your living room setup do that now so you don't need to worry day-of. It's best to do some speed cleaning done now too so you don't feel rushed or overwhelmed with housekeeping chores in the next couple of days.

candle with eucalyptus and white pumpkins
The Spruce / Candace Madonna

November 27 (1 Day to Thanksgiving)

Work on any last minute preparations, then take the rest of the day to relax before your celebration tomorrow. Set aside a little bit of time to reflect on the best parts of your year so far and all the things you're thankful for.

Thanksgiving Day

November 28

Enjoy your time with your loved ones. Whether you're enjoying a large feast with extended family or simply enjoying a quiet meal with a few close friends, show gratitude for the ones you love.

Happy Thanksgiving from The Spruce!