Plan Ahead for Thanksgiving Day
Print off your Free Printable Thanksgiving Day Planner. By planning ahead you can have a fun family day no matter how many guests or how many side dishes. Taking the time to sit down and plan out all the details of the traditional American holiday will put your mind at ease if you are a first-time host. It will also help you keep organized even if you have made this meal many times before.
You will receive a welcome email with the password to the printable library.
Even the experienced Thanksgiving Dinner Host can get overwhelmed by all the details of Thanksgiving as their family grows. The demands of everyday life, kids, and work can make the thought of this day seem impossible. No matter how many relatives and friends are arriving at your house this year, you can enjoy the day and fellowship. When you have as much as possible purchases, prepared and organized days before the big day you can be more relaxed.
No matter how good we are at juggling the week’s events in our head, writing it down and letting the other in our home know the plan will take the stress out of your head and put the details down on paper. I always print off a Thanksgiving Day Planner at least a week before to make sure I have on paper all I need to do.
I have designed this year a fun kid-friendly planner that will help you organize and have fun planning. You can keep the planner out on your kitchen counter for the week of and the day of Thanksgiving. I love beautiful images to keep me in the mood for the season. Having beautiful images and printables give me more joy as I work and plan.
So let’s get started planning ahead for our Thanksgiving day festivities. 7 pages of helpful printable including, meal plan, guest list, the weekend before shopping list, Tuesday before shopping list, pantry essentials, and your crafts and decorations.
Begin Your Thanksgiving Planning
When first thinking about Thanksgiving I usually start the first week of October. I start communicating with family members to determine who will be coming so that I know how many guests will be attending. Also to figure out how many guest rooms I have to have prepared. I start filling out the Guest List Plan.
I then start thinking of a theme for the decorations, and crafts. I start this planning two months before Thanksgiving Day. Decorating and crafts need to go together as I like to do most of my decorations DIY. Actually, when I brainstorm the plan for the decorations, I think of the other family members and the age of children to see if some of my decorations the kids would also like to make and take home.
I also think back to the traditions that our family has enjoyed in the past and would be disappointed if we were not to continued this Thanksgiving. One of our family traditions is that the table is set with Christmas plates and silverware. My mother-in-law started this tradition with her favorite Christmas Spode collection and as we have 16 place settings. So regardless of how many people come we always have enough dishes.
I have matching Spode silverware Jim purchased for me as a gift the second year he hosted Thanksgiving dinner. The Christmas dishes set the mood for the upcoming Christmas season. However, while the dinnerware is Christmas, the centerpieces, and decorations around the house are traditional Thanksgiving and fall.
Other family traditions that have become very important include layering the formal dining table with a table padding and having the tablecloth and table completely set the day before. What are some of your family traditions?
This year as many years in the past I’ve decided to stick with the traditional fall leaves, acorns, buckeyes, pumpkin, and deep fall Earth tone colors.
Step 1: Guest List
Print off the free printable for your guest list. Write down all the guests that have committed to attend and those that you think may attend and note any dietary needs, or special table settings. An example of this would be how many high chairs you might need or booster seats, or extra room at the table for a wheelchair.
Step 2: Menu
Once you have your guest list determined, the second step is to determine your menu. I first start with the basics, whether it will be turkey or ham. For our family, it is always turkey and over the years we have decided that a fresh turkey pre-ordered is the best. The turkey is one item whether you love the taste or not it just is not Thanksgiving without a large whole turkey.
Print off the free printable of the menu planning to start this process.
Step 3: Review Recipes
I next start writing down all the traditional recipes that everyone looks forward to enjoying. In reviewing the menu and my guest list, I determine whether there are any recipes that need to be modified for dietary restrictions. I look at the recipes to determine the ones that are must-haves to ensure we have that traditional feel. Just like the dinner would not be complete without the turkey, for us the traditional green bean casserole and handmade mashed potatoes are required.
Look at your recipes to see if they need to be modified for guests’ dietary needs. For example, someone might be vegetarian or have an allergy to certain ingredients. If I have an issue with a recipe I may modify it or make an alternative for my guest.
As you were thinking of the dishes to make think of your plate as a tablescape combining nutrition and beautiful colors. Make sure that your dishes, when placed on the dinner plate, will have a beautiful array of fresh colors as opposed to a monotone color palette. Always keep in mind, the nutritional value of the foods being served so that you have a well-balanced meal at the end of the day. I find that this sometimes can be difficult as a lot of traditional Thanksgiving foods are starches. This is why I am so thankful for Pinterest where I can search for new dishes to supplement the nutritional balance of our families favorites
Step 4: New Recipes
Next, decide whether there any new recipes that you would like to add to make Thanksgiving even more special each year. You can start by looking at Pinterest to see if there are any ideas other people have and I ask friends what are some of their traditional side dishes.
Step 5: Desserts
Next, let’s start planning desserts! Write down the desserts that you love to eat. Decide what desserts your family members have expressed as their favorite. For our family apple pie has to be on the list.
For me, pumpkin pie has been a traditional pie that needs to be included at every Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie is a traditional dessert for both Jim and me. However, as the years go by, fewer people find this to be their favorite dessert. But being a traditionalist I will have this on the menu.
I have seen several recipes for making individual small pumpkin pies and this year I think I’m going to try making a few small ones.
Jim’s mom has a traditional pumpkin pie that she made for her family. It is a softer lighter pie I have not made it for years now but maybe the younger generation might like a more custard recipe.
Step 6: Phone App
Once I have my menu planned, I then turned to my iPad and make sure that each one of these recipes has been entered into my Paprika app. You can find a great tutorial at keystoinspiration.com on how to use this app. It has been a lifesaver for me for many holiday dinners. Whenever I can not find that old crumpled recipe card, I always have it on my phone or iPad.
I have a special category for Thanksgiving in my Paprika app. This way I can sort the recipes that I know we will be making on Thanksgiving. I then go look for my traditional recipe cards for these dishes to make sure that I have my recipes correct on my iPad.
Step 7: Items Needed
Grab Your Menu Planning Printable, then start writing down the ingredients that you know you are going to need to purchase.
Check your cupboards for some of the staples as a lot of times you will have many of the things needed already in the house. You will find two lists, a non-perishable list to be purchased 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving and a perishable list for the two days before. Group your foods that need to purchased by the store in which they’re going to be purchased. This way you can look for sales in certain stores.
It is best to be thinking of all the foods that will be eaten by your house guests and have a supply in the house. You can print out the free printable of basic staples to have in your pantry for Thanksgiving to make sure that this list is comprehensive for your needs for Thanksgiving week.
Here a list of what you have an ample supply of before Thanksgiving week starts. Keep an eye out for sales to spread out the cost.
Print off the Pantry Essentials Shopping List
Items to have a supply of Tissues, Paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, tablecloths, baggies, chips, crackers, cereal, pop, water, flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, brown sugar, vanilla, powdered sugar, butter, margarine, eggs, powdered milk, salt, pepper, any alcoholic beverages, batteries.
Items to have ready for Overnight Guests: pillows, blankets, towels, toiletry supplies in the bathrooms.
Items to purchase a Weekend Before Thanksgiving: cheeses, apples, grapes, oranges, bananas, all your vegetables, milk, yogurts, sour cream, bacon, sausages, breakfast bread.
Think of ways to make space in your house to keep these extra items at your fingertips.
Craft Supplies to have on hand: scissors, tape, glue, glue dots, glitter, supplies of colored paper.
Step 8: Preparing Your Guest Rooms
Using preparing your Guest Room Printable will help make sure that your rooms are clean and ready for all your guests. I make sure, as I’m sure all of you do, I make sure that all the bed linens have been washed and changed. I make sure each room has plenty of pillows and blankets as Thanksgiving is usually cold here in Ohio. If we are having little ones or younger children, I make sure we have a crib or inflatable beds available.
Planning Thanksgiving Day Tips
- Print off your free Thanksgiving Day Planner
- Write down your guests. (Guest List Printable)
- Send written invitations, emails or a phone call to each guest.
- Plan out what menu items you want to make yourself. (Meal Planning Printable)
- Ask family & friends to bring the other side dishes or desserts you do not want to make.
- Find your recipes and put them all in one place. I use the app Paprika. (Great Tutorial about Paprika click here to go to Keystoinspiration.com)
- Write down all the items you need to buy. (Shopping List Printable)
- Check your pantry to see what you already have and what you need to buy. (Pantry Essentials Shopping List Printable)
- Make your shopping list for the weekend before and the day before Thanksgiving.
- Decide on any special decorations.
- List what you need to buy for your Thanksgiving decorations. (Craft & Decoration Printable)
- Decide on any crafts for your guest to make after dinner
- Write down what you need to buy for the after dinner craft
My hope and prayer for you this Thanksgiving is that you will be able to relax and enjoy your Thanksgiving by having everything planned out in advance.
Leave a comment on your favorite side dish that you must make every Thanksgiving, and any fun crafts you like to have for the kids to make.