Thanksgiving Planning (Build it Backwards)

We keep our fall decor simple. And if you wonder why: Notice that a toddler has stuffed a clementine wedge into the mercury-glass pumpkin

The step-by-step to-do list and shopping listThanksgiving is just around the corner.  We usually have anywhere from 30-40ish here — this year will be on the smaller side, at 30, including a good number of littles (I rely on Norwex to clean up before/after so I don’t have to stress over kid messes).

 

No, we don’t have a huge house or a monstrous kitchen (ample, but not huge), but we make it work and have fun together. This is my 43rd “married” Thanksgiving, and I still rely on my trusty written plan to help me out! Each year I tweak it a bit, may add a recipe or two, or have someone else do a part, but this is the basic outline. Thought it might help you at least have a starting point!

And while you are planning ahead, be sure to have your turkey safely thawed (and that includes removing anything packaged IN the bird before roasting!). Ashley Simper, MS, RD, LDN, Manager of Dietetic Services for OSF Healthcare, recommends these tips to help you defrost your holiday bird safely, including a thawing timetable.

Step 1: Make a menu.

This starts with a basic head count (meaning invitations need to go out—mine are usually just Facebook Messenger notes, but you can get fancy if you’d rather. I’m lucky I remember to even send the FB messages, as I’m usually just finishing work travels about this time and Thanksgiving often catches me by surprise!). Our menu is simple; in the past, I’ve done pretty much all the cooking, but I’m getting better at letting others pitch in these days. Our menu for this year will include two turkeys (20 lbs each) and a turkey breast (my first one in the Pampered Chef Quick Cooker!), 20lbs of mashed potatoes (I believe in Plenty – it’s almost a joke around here now at the holidays), my signature stuffing (from Everyday Cooking), lots of other typical sides, and several chocolate pies. And of course, my grandkids would be heartbroken to miss out on our traditional dinner rolls (also from Everyday Cooking).

Step 2: Rough out the schedule.

I work backwards. The deciding factor for dinner time is….what time is the Detroit Lions football game? If it’s late, we eat early. If it’s early (as it is this year), we eat after 4:30. So I start with We’d Like to Eat About 4:30, and work my timetable backward. (See it here.) I even include items that can be done earlier in the week, such as making tea concentrate, cleaning bathrooms, selecting music, borrowing a crockpot, and more.

                                                                                     See steps 1-3 for links to downloadable printables.

Step 3: Buy all the things.

This means I have to have the menu done, so I can make a grocery list. Some of  the list may get distributed to others, depending on the budget. And my husband often either shops or goes with me—he’s a huge blessing!

(Some photos by Rebekah McBride, www.nodeskrequired.com)

Step 4: Be thankful.

This is really an all-through-the-holiday step….but it’s so easy to get caught up in making everything “nice for company,” and lose sight of the blessings of friends and family. So I try to build margin into my week to enjoy this time together!

With the plans printed out and posted on the fridge, the shopping list in hand, and the turkey thawing in the outside refrigerator, I can relax (somewhat) and enjoy baking with the kids while part of the gang plays games in the dining room and some of the kids help decorate the table and make the place cards. (With all the ages we have, our table will not make Martha Stewart Living, but we appreciate the littles’ creativity and helpfulness.) And by the end of the day, we are tired but happy and so grateful to God for each other, for his provision and mercy, and for the gift of salvation through Jesus.

Some of our traditions include games, handmade place cards, a gratitude “tree” of some sort, and pie. Lots of pie. Mostly chocolate.

Traditional chocolate pie...with whipped cream

What are your traditions?

 

Recipes are from Everyday Cooking

A few products you might like to help you this holiday season….

(Affiliate links, meaning you get the same good deals and I get a few cents here and there to keep bringing you fun content!)

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