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Thanksgiving is next week …

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AlexRaths/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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… and it’s not too early to start preparing for the big day.

The last few days leading up to the feast are often chaotic. There’s family in town, holiday traffic and plenty of last-minute tasks to complete the menu. This year, with a little planning, your Thanksgiving can be stress-free.

This week ….

Prepare a list of your dinner guests.
List how many are children. Ask about food allergies to save yourself some surprises or headaches.

Write out your menu and a shopping list for groceries, wines, and supplies.

Do your shopping for all non-perishables.
The grocery is always a zoo the week of Thanksgiving, so if you only need to buy fresh produce and breads that week, your shopping will be much less of a hassle.

Make sure that you have all the necessary cooking equipment.
That means enough pots, pans, and baking dishes to prepare everything on your menu.

And here’s a tip you will thank me for.
Clean out the refrigerator to make room for the Thanksgiving dinner groceries and prepared dishes.

The weekend before Thanksgiving …

Set the table.
Polish silver, iron napkins, set-out name cards, even set up the buffet table with serving platters. I label platters with sticky pads notes as to which dish goes in what.

If you're bought a frozen turkey, you'll need to start thawing it on Sunday. A 15-pound bird will take 3 full days to thaw in the refrigerator.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Happy Thanksgiving!

Jennifer Chandler graduated at the top of her class from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is a full-time mom to two daughters in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks The Southern Pantry Cookbook, Simply Salads, Simply Suppers, and Simply Grilling.