Week 2: Stress-Free Thanksgiving – Organize your Recipes & Shopping Lists!

It’s hard to believe it’s the 2nd week of November already! And hopefully by now you’ve made your guest list for Thanksgiving Day dinner, and you’ve planned out your menu and delegated some of the dishes at the time of confirming the invite. That is the time to let people know what you’d like them to bring.

Remember that Thanksgiving Day is not a day to be exhausted and to try to impress people by doing it all.

It’s a day to share the load, enjoy each other in the kitchen and around the table, and to create FUN memories for the family (not horrible memories of stress and strain).

A few years ago my friend Eliz emailed me her entire menu for Thanksgiving Dinner. I was so impressed with how organized she was, I followed suit.

Do This NOW — this week!
1. Choose Recipes: Pick up a few magazines at the store or library and find what recipes you want to use, or rummage through your cookbooks or family recipes.
2. Organize Recipes: Tear out the pages or copy the pages from a magazine or cookbook.
3. STAPLE all the recipes (pages) together and write “Thanksgiving 2010” at the top; fold in 1/2 and keep in your notebook. Another option is to staple them right into your notebook.
4. Shopping List: Go through each recipe and make separate pages for different stores and record what you will need to buy.
5. Turkey: Order your turkey or have a plan for where you will buy it.

IE, create a shopping page for each:
Market of Choice

Thanksgiving Day really is a themed dinner party! Most Americans sit down together with many courses for many hours to enjoy the food and fellowship.

The secret is to be organized so you can enjoy the day with your family and guests.

My mother lived “organization” and was planner. I understand that not everyone had the same experience that I had while growing up, and entertaining can actually be painful. There is still time to learn and grow in this area of hospitality. You can read books, magazines, blogs – but the best way is to find a mentor who can teach you how. You can quietly observe a hostess that you admire in how she pulls it all together.

My parents were good role models. Our home did not have to be perfect before they invited people in. And they always included my sisters and me by having us help get ready, cook, and set the table—mistakes and all. We witnessed the benefits and happiness that living a hospitable life brought to our parents. Their happiness did not revolve around perfection. It was a matter of the heart. – The Reluctant Entertainer

I don’t know about you, but for me, I want to continue to learn how to be a gracious hostess. I am not perfect in this area, but I want to strive to have more grace in my interactions with others.

How are your menu and shopping lists coming together this week?

Come back tomorrow for an amazing GIVEAWAY from Back 40 Life … you won’t believe how beautiful it is … I have one hanging in my house! And if you are a bit behind on your Thanksgiving Day planning and you missed Week 1, you can catch up, HERE.

18 comments on “Week 2: Stress-Free Thanksgiving – Organize your Recipes & Shopping Lists!”

  1. Pingback: How to Roast and Garnish a Turkey | reluctantentertainer.com Reluctant Entertainer I Sandy Coughlin - Lifestyle, Entertaining, Food, Recipes, Hospitality and Gardening

  2. November is coming to qlcukiy at our house my little man is going to turn one. I love the recipe idea. I also post recipes on my blog from time to time. Mostly the ones we like to eat, and then ones we discover along the way.

  3. Thanks for the post with tips on how to organize your Thanksgiving recipes. The big day is almost here!

  4. Their happiness did not revolve around perfection. It was a matter of the heart.
    What a wonderful Life lesson!!

  5. I guess I should get going on this. I usually am on top of things weeks before the Big Day.
    My husband had a total knee replacement 8 wks ago and just had his second knee done this week.
    I could never pull off entertaining without his help, so this year it will be just us and our son’s family. I’ve been busy just taking care of him and really haven’t thought much about Thanksgiving.
    Maybe I’ll get going on this today.

  6. I LOVE this:

    “My parents were good role models. Our home did not have to be perfect before they invited people in. And they always included my sisters and me by having us help get ready, cook, and set the table—mistakes and all. We witnessed the benefits and happiness that living a hospitable life brought to our parents. Their happiness did not revolve around perfection. It was a matter of the heart. – The Reluctant Entertainer”

    … it speaks to my heart!

    Even on the days when I don’t think I’m as organized as I should be… I try to keep my focus on my family & friends. The memories of being together & sharing a meal are so important!

  7. This is the first time my husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving. It’s typically at my mom’s but she has a post-surgery weight restriction. Happy to say that our menu is set, food items have been delegated out to everyone, a time line is in place, we have the turkey, but still have to shop for everything else. The biggest chore we face is getting the house clean and with my husband out hunting the 3 weekends leading up to Thanksgiving, this will be somewhat daunting BUT we’ll get done what we get done because like we always say, “The Queen ain’t comin’!”

    One other challenge we face every time we entertain is keeping non-cooks out of the kitchen. My motto is “if you aren’t helping /cooking, please stay out of the kitchen.” We have a perfectly good island and kitchen table close enough to hear people talking but folks always manage to creep in and stand in the flow of ‘cooking traffic’. Does anyone else face this problem? How do you politely but firmly tell people they are in the way?

  8. Hi Sandy…your beans look so delicious!!!
    All of the lists are made and I stocked up on to-go-containers from Cash-n-Carry.
    Every year it seemed like a big deal to find enough containers for leftovers. NOT ANYMORE! I nominated myself to provide containers and bags for leftovers. No more looking high and low for the cottage cheese and Cool Whip containers and their LIDS! And best of all no more spilled turkey gravy on the way home… EEEK! :)

  9. I am not sure what we are doing for Thanksgiving this year. I don’t want to travel and want to cook in our kitchen, so it might be the two of us. I guess I better figure it out, huh? :)

  10. Those green beans look amazing! I have never heard of Wineco! Sounds like you are ready to go for Thanksgiving-

    sandy toe

  11. I just found an app on my IPod touch today that makes your shopping list from recipes you pick to make life MUCH easier.. i am thinking the 1.99 price tag is SOOOOO worth it.

  12. I am the list making queen! I use Excel for all my lists. I keep a folder for each holiday and within each folder is a planner/shopping list/menu for each year. For instance in my Thanksgiving folder I have all my lists dating back to 2001. I can scan through each one and see what I had the year(s) before. I also print each recipe I’m going to use and keep it in a folder marked “Thanksgiving” that way I always know where all the recipes I need are to be found. I also sort my list by store. It’s easy using the sort feature on Excel. I’ll list the ingredients and next to each ingredients I’ll write WM for Walmart or TJ for Trader Joes. All I do is sort by that column and my list is in order.

    I also print out a decorative menu for the fridge. I use it as a check list for me and it helps when the kids keep asking “what are we having?” I just point to the fridge. I also have a big framed chalkboard. I write out the menu before the guests arrive and stand the menu up on a plate holder, so I can move it to any place in the house I need to. My guests always know to check the board to see what’s cookin’.

  13. Here are 7 easy ways to spruce up your house for Thanksgiving!

    The simplest way to transform your home for Thanksgiving is to refresh its “accessories”.

    1. Replace your regular couch pillows with autumn-colored ones and display winter-themed coffee table books.

    2. Light candles that smell like Cinnamon, Evergreen trees or baking cookies.

    3. Switch out the towels and mats in the bathrooms with Thanksgiving-themed or fall-colored items.

    4. Get creative and make a centerpiece for your kitchen and/or dining room table using things from outside… Go here for more! http://www.the-organizing-boutique.com/organize-thanksgiving.html

  14. Menu planned? Check – keeping simple. Guests confirmed? Check. Now to just ready the DR/LR to look welcoming and accomodate the # of people!!!!

  15. Your ideas are always so helpful. For some reason, I cannot believe we are into November. Doesn’t feel like the holidays should be this close. But I really need to get on it…. Great ideas her to do that. Have a great day!!!

  16. What a great blog you have! And those green beans look so yummy, I actually want some for breakfast! Great tips!

  17. The menu is set, we are sticking with our families tried and true traditional dishes this year (everyone’s request to keep it SIMPLE). We will be hosting, so now I am making the decisions as to what we will prepare and what others will be asked to bring. I love the idea of having a folder for everything!

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