Planning and hosting a holiday meal can be a great opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family, but it can also be very stressful. I started taking over our holiday meals 11 years ago while my husband and I were still dating. We started small, just having the immediate family over for Thanksgiving. Over the years, that small intimate party of 10 has grown to a party of 22 this year. To help keep myself organized and on track I started using a timeline and lots of list. This way I make sure I don’t forget even the smallest item.
96 hours before
• Decide upon your menu and write it all down so you don’t forget anything
• Make your grocery list based on your menu (make sure you double-check it twice, trust me on this)
• Check and make sure you have enough table settings, utensils and stemware. If not I would suggest visiting your local part or big box liquor store to stock up on disposable items.
72 hours before
• Go to the grocery store (it will be crazy but trust me it will only get worst the longer you wait)
• Go to the liquor store if you are planning on having adult beverages with your meal
• Put frozen turkey in the refrigerator to thaw
• Call or send out a reminder to anyone that has RSVP’d
48 hours before
• Lay out all your recipes. This will save you time when it comes to start cooking
• Layout placemats, napkins or tablecloths and iron any if necessary
• Clean house!!!! You are going to be having a lot of people over so you want to make sure everything is clean. Be sure to fill up your soap dispensers and put out new rolls of toilet tissue.
24 hours before
• Make your desserts. Most desserts either will need time to cool or need to set up overnight so doing them the day before is perfect and will take a lot of stress off you for the main day.
• If you are planning on making homemade dressing then go ahead and make your bread and cornbread so that is can start getting stale.
• Make your casseroles. Casseroles are great for making ahead and just popping into the oven an hour or so before you are ready to eat.
• If you are having a veggie/relish tray go ahead and clean and cut up your veggies. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Then all you have to do the next day is just put them on a cute serving dish and add dip!
6 hours before
• Get the turkey prepped and into the oven. If you are doing just a turkey breast a slow cooker works great for cooking a turkey also. Typically, a turkey needs 15-20 minutes of cooking per pound.
• Set up any additional tables or chairs you are going to need.
• Set the table
• Load the dishwasher with any dirty dishes and start it.
2 hours before
• Empty dishwasher. This way once the meal is over you can reload it immediately and start it again which mean less time in front of the sink for you later on!
• Set out a few appetizers and drinks for guest to munch on while you finish preparing the meal.
• Start setting out your casseroles and preheating your oven. This will give the dished a few minutes to warm up before immediately taking them from a cold refrigerator to a hot oven.
• Make your remaining side dishes.