• 1 month ahead. If using a fresh turkey, place an order with your natural grocer. Buy wine and table decorations.
  • 2–4 weeks ahead. Create shopping list. Make gravy base and freeze.
  • 1 week ahead. Buy nonperishables, such as baking items and frozen or canned goods. Bake bread, wrap tightly in foil, and freeze.
  • 3 days ahead. Buy fresh produce. Thaw gravy base in refrigerator. Make soup; refrigerate. If using a frozen turkey, transfer to refrigerator to begin thawing.
  • 2 days ahead. Make cheesecake and pralines; refrigerate.
  • 1 day ahead. Make dressing and apple pie. Pick up turkey (if using fresh), or have it delivered. Set table and lay out serving platters and utensils. Move furniture if necessary to accommodate extra guests.
  • Morning. Set up drink bar with tumblers, wineglasses, and ice buckets. Arrange appetizers on serving platters, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed.
  • 4-1/2 hours ahead. Preheat oven. Remove turkey from refrigerator and prepare. Remove bread from foil wrapping and thaw at room temperature.
  • 4 hours ahead. Put turkey in oven. Peel root vegetables; store in cold, salted water.
  • 2 hours ahead. Steam fresh green beans; store in cold water.
  • 1 hour ahead. Make root-vegetable and green-bean dishes; keep warm on stove. Reheat gravy base and soup base; finish by adding milk-flour mixture and milk, respectively. Keep warm over low heat. Fill water glasses to the brim with ice.
  • 30 minutes ahead. Remove turkey from oven, transfer to cutting board, and cover tightly with foil. Pour meat juices into a pan; skim off and discard fat. Keep juices warm. Turn oven to 350 degrees and reheat dressing.
  • 15 minutes ahead. Carve turkey; transfer slices to serving platters. Top off water glasses; pour cider and wine; slice bread. Place food in serving dishes. Spoon pan drippings over sliced turkey just before serving.

—K.L.S.