Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Idea: The ultimate checklist for hosting Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday.  It's also my turn to host and I enjoy every minute of it.  I love the idea of counting our blessings, the aroma, and the cooking prep with my family.  I love the food, the company, and especially the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  If you don't squeal with joy at Santa's grande entrance during the parade, are you even real?!

I've watched and helped my mother host Thanksgiving since I was born.  Once she was unable to host anymore, I took over the holiday with a family of my own.  I take great pride in continuing her traditions and adding a few of my own.  Madre may not say it out loud, but I can see that she is just as proud!  With all of this experience behind me, I'm happy to share some of my tips and tricks.

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The only checklist you'll need to host Thanksgiving.

Three weeks before

__ Create a menu.  This should include beverages, appetizers, main course, and dessert.  

__Create a to do list for all prep work or just print out this one with added lines for each dish.

__Gather recipes where necessary.

Idea:  Store the recipes in your recipe book or box for next year too.  I love this recipe book to store all my favorite ones and the pass down to my daughter when she gets older.

__Create a full shopping list.  Separate by store and try to add prices where possible.

__Set a firm budget.  You should use your shopping list as a guide.

__Do a deep scrub of your home to prep for the big day.

__Send out informal invitations to your guest list with a designated time.

Idea:  Or be a little extra and send out these super cute turkey invitations to your guests for a visual reminder.

__Start purchasing nonperishable items weekly to lessen the burden of the full shopping.

__Purchase the turkey before the right size, brand, and price is gone.

__Double check that you have enough table space and chairs for your guests.

Idea: If you need to purchase or borrow extra chairs and tables, start asking now.  You don't want to make this a last minute scramble and suddenly people are eating on your couch.

__Start to make room in the fridge and freezer for your Thanksgiving food and leftovers.

__Request the day before Thanksgiving off of work for prep work.

Two weeks before

__Ensure that all last minute decorating of your home is done.

__Pick out your family's outfits and your apron for the big day.

__If you have an extra refrigerator or freezer, plug it in to store the extra food.

__Pull out your fine china, silver wear, and table clothes for a quick cleaning.

__Purchase the wine and other beverages you budgeted for.


__Finish all of your grocery shopping.

__If you're having overnight guests, set up the guest room and bathroom.

__Get the furry family members washed and groomed.

__Make the sauce for the stuffed shells.


__Put the turkey in the fridge to start the slow defrost.

__Make the fresh cranberry sauce and then stick it in the fridge for Thursday.

__Make the chocolate pudding pie and/or jello and then stick it in the fridge for Thursday.


__Clean, dry, and set aside all dishes, cups, and utensils that have been sitting in storage.

__Get fresh flowers and arrange them nicely for the table.

Idea:  Are fresh flowers too much work to do each year?  Try investing in a pretty centerpiece like this one with silk Sunflowers instead.  You'll be saving money each year that use it in place of fresh cut flowers.

__If needed, gather all extra tables and chairs.

__Remove and store the glass protecting your dining room table in a safe place.

__Add the leaf to your dining room table for extra space.

__Iron the table clothes.

__Put away any everyday decor that you won't be using in a safe place.

__Recruit any last minute help to prepare the meal.

__Bake the homemade pumpkin pie or dessert #1.

__Bake the homemade apple pie or dessert #2.

__Go to bed early and prepare the most hectic day of the year!


__Wake up before the sun comes up and send the kids out of the house.

__Tell Alexa to play your favorite play list.

Idea: Be prepared with aluminum half trays or oven safe trays to cook all pre-made dishes for an easy warm up.

__Prepare the stuffed shells with your homemade cheese stuffing and sauce or dish #1.

__Make the homemade stuffed mushrooms or dish #2.

__Make the sweet potato casserole or dish #3
__Make the brussel sprouts or dish #4.

__Make the butternut squash or dish #5.

__Prepare the stuffing for the turkey.

__Make the mashed potatoes or dish #6.

__Prepare the guava and cheese or dessert #3.

__Make the corn bread.

Idea:  Make them as muffins for easier serving and less crumbly cutting.

__Make the pumpkin bread.

__Make the flan or dessert #4.

__Clean the turkey and prepare it for the big day tomorrow.

__Set up all seating arrangements and folding tables.

__Set the table in the special holiday way.

__Finish all last minute cleaning and dusting.

__Charge the camcorder or camera.

__Set your alarm clock & coffee pot with enough time to cook the turkey before guests arrive.

Thanksgiving Day

__Season, dress, and stuff the turkey.

Idea:  Set multiple timers for basting and to check the temperature.  I use my Amazon Alexa for this, because she's literally my assistant.  Additionally, you're going to want to make sure ahead of time that you have a reliable meat thermometer like this one.  You don't want to eyeball a turkey.

__Turn on the Thanksgiving parade and relax for a moment with your cup of coffee.

__Pick up fresh Italian bread from the bakery.

__Pick up the struffoli from the bakery.

__Stop and watch Santa Claus end the parade.  

__Bread and fry the artichoke hearts or dish #7.

__Prepare the antipasto.  I use cold meats, sliced cheeses, pesto, nuts, and dried fruits.

Idea:  I plate mine on the biggest cutting board I have to save serving trays for the main course.  Mine is similar to this one and does a fabulous job of holding the antipasto and looking just as pretty empty.

__Once the turkey is cooked, cover it in tin foil.  Remove and plate the stuffing.

__Make the gravy.

__Make the salad.

__Slice, cover, and plate the bread.

__Prepare for an easy clean up after dinner.  Wash the dishes, clean the stove, and take out the trash.

__Hang some extra dish towels in an easily accessible place for the helpful guests.

__Preheat the oven to a low setting to warm up all your dishes.

__Fill the ice bucket.

__Put out beverages and don't forget to fill the water pitcher.

__Put on some calming dinner music.

__Warm up your dinner, serve, say a prayer of thanks, and feast!!

Tip:  Don't forget to put the wishbone aside so it has time to dry.

__After dinner is cleared, make the coffee and espresso.

__Heat up any desserts that should be served warm.

__Break the wishbone.

__Go around the table to say what you're thankful for.

__Be prepared with a lighthearted, fun game to play with your guests.

Idea:  We love to play Color Brain!  This game is fun for the adults and the Disney version is fun for the kiddies.

__Be aware of alcohol consumption.  You may want to order an Uber or make another pot of coffee in preparation for a sleepover.

__Make to go plates if your leftovers are real excessive.

__Don't forget to take lots of pictures to remember this day.

__After your guests are gone, take a moment to relax and count your blessings after a successful day.

__Dust off your Elf on a Shelf to greet your kids Friday morning!

Did I miss something?  Tell me so I can add it.

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  1. You can get a bird by flirting?
    It takes four days for the bird to defrost??? OMG
    Why doesn't the turkey stuff itself?
    Why does the bread have to be Italian? Shouldn't it be Indian and made from corn?
    Who would eat a day old mashed potatoes, deary? :)))

    1. Wow, lots of questions here! Yes, you can get a bird by flirting. They always have extra in the back. Bat your eyes, and suddenly the "sold out" sign will disappear for one last turkey. Yes, it takes a very long time for the turkey to defrost. Luckily, my grandma still does this piece for me. Cleaning the turkey out skeeves the crap out of me. The turkey can't stuff itself because it's dead, but I do agree it should come stuffed. lol The bread must be Italian so that we can dunk the bread in the sauce from our stuffed shells. I'm not a fan of mashed potatoes, so a day old or same day doesn't make a difference to me. Maybe I should make them fresh though since it's my husband's favorite. :)

  2. Wow, your ocd is in overdrive with Thanksgiving haha

    I think I'd lose an arm if I tried to bath the cats, not really, but you never know. Be sure and have those blankets covering the furniture too. Never know lol Can't say I squeal of any sort at fake Santa. You'll sure have it all down though, even stuffing the turkey's butt. And you say you hate birds lol

    1. LOL I printed this out two weeks ago for us to use and check off as we go. My husband was so shocked at the site of it that he took a picture of it to send to my father to tell him how I waste time. Organization is never a waste of time!!

    2. lmao over-organization may be a waste of time though.

    3. That's not true. I never heard of someone being TOO organized. SMH

  3. Wow, it's my least favorite holiday, probably because I've been the host for 15 years. I'm not a fan of the food and my family insists on the traditional dishes. I'd die for some stuffed shells for T Day!

    As it is, I'm planning to do my grocery list today and get the turkeys tomorrow, in hopes they will thaw by next week. Props to you for being such a great planner!

    1. Come on over, I always have extra of everything. :) If I don't plan properly, I start to twitch. It's a borderline medical condition. lol

  4. Wow. Can I come to your house? I'm tired and all I did was read the list!

    Watching for Santa is the best part of Thanksgiving and reminds me of my mom. We'd always watch it and when Santa made his appearance, she proclaim the holidays can begin. My son is working for a law firm on 5th Avenue and I told him he HAS to see if there is window overlooking the parade route and invite his mom. That would be like a big bucket list item scratched off. To see the parade IRL.

    1. There's something so magical about it, even at 30! Girl, kudos to you because I would never ever want to go to that parade. Unless, you know, I was in an executive building with a bathroom and escape route. LOL

  5. I just show up, but it's my least favorite holiday. It all balances out.

  6. I'm exhausted just reading this list. Thankfully, my mother in law does Thanksgiving dinner since I do Christmas breakfast. I did decide to do Friendsgiving this year, which will be this Saturday. I've been spending this week getting the house ready and the menu finalized/food purchased. Friday I'll have all of the desserts made and make a last minute grocery run for anything I may have forgotten to grab (because let's be honest. There is ALWAYS a last minute grocery run that needs to be done lol)

    1. I'm glad you decided to do it. I remember you saying that you were on the fence about it. It's definitely a lot of work and very tiring, but the reward is worth of all of it. & yes to the last minute grocery shopping.. even with all of the lists in the world, it always seems to happen!


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