My Thanksgiving Planner—Obsessive But Efficient

It’s no secret that I can be a little OCD about certain things, and holiday planning is no exception. I love hosting the holidays at our home, but I’ve learned that there is a very fine line between a memorable event and a stressful one. A few years ago, as I prepared for another massive Thanksgiving get-together, I finally took the time to compile my lists, recipes and menus into a single comprehensive planner. This took a little time and effort the first year, but now, I can have Thanksgiving planned in no time at all. Here’s how I did it:

First, I found a small binder and had G-Man color some artwork for the cover…what can I say? It bought me ten minutes of relative quiet. I also picked up some dividers and plastic page protectors, because my kitchen is a dangerous place.

The first section consists of my calendar/schedule page, which I use to plan the whole week of Thanksgiving and keep track of all my daily to-do’s:

(you can find that here). I keep these together, chronologically by year. I can see what tasks I completed each day, so I don’t have to wrack my brain to remember when I took the turkey out to defrost, or how I balanced cooking, shopping and cleaning.

Next, I have a section of menus by year, so I know exactly what we served each year:

(I use a template on Microsoft Word for that). Though our menu stays fairly consistent each year, I still find it useful to look back and compare as I plan the current meal.

The next section contains a master grocery list. On this page, I’ve listed each dish I’ve ever served, and every ingredient in it, so I can see how much I need to buy.

Then, of course, come the recipes, which are already multiplied into the correct proportions. Thanks to my Living Cookbook software, this only took about 30 seconds to accomplish:

If I end up with too much or too little of something, I can write it on the recipe, so when it’s time to plan the next year, I have a reminder that I need to adjust my portions.

Finally, I keep a section of Guest Lists, so I can remember who came each year, and how many people we served:

(you can find that here too).

So, yeah, my Thanksgiving planner may seem a little OCD, but as a person who can quickly transform from happy hostess to neurotic banshee, it is an invaluable sanity-saver. Well, that and copious amounts of chardonnay, but who’s counting?

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