Thanksgiving is a week away, and somehow it managed to sneak up on me. 

As my household attempts to slow down our busy lives for a sustainable and joyful holiday season, it can be overwhelming to think of all the things that ‘need’ to be done in the next 6 weeks. Above all, avoiding stress is top of my list for goals for the season, but waiting until a week before Thanksgiving to start planning can be very stress-inducing! Here is the 6-step process I’m going through this week using our Thanksgiving Planning PDF to calm my nerves, plan a great meal, and get myself ready to enjoy the holiday with my family. 

Thanksgiving planner PDF thumbnail

1. Plan the big stuff

We’ll leave the detailed planning for later, but first you’ll need to create a general idea of how this event will go. 

  • Who will join you?
  • What are the must-have foods for your meal? 
  • What is your budget?
  • What time and day will you have your meal? (I know many families who celebrate a late fall meal on another day instead. Do what works for you!) 
  • Do you want to have decor, and if so, what will it be? 


The first couple of pages of our Thanksgiving Planning PDF will help guide you through these questions!


2. Invite guests and assign dishes

You don’t have to keep all of the work to yourself. In fact, the beauty of Thanksgiving is that so many people come together, each bringing their own skill set, to collaborate on a fantastic meal for everyone to enjoy. 

But here’s an important tip: Don’t assign a guest an item that will ‘make or break’ the meal. (e.g. napkins, sparkling cider, or the turkey). We all know from the last few years that anything can happen when it comes to making plans. If a guest has to back out at the last minute, will you be scrambling for the item that they were supposed to bring? 

For that reason, I take the pressure off of us both by assigning my guests side dishes and specialty items. Extra special desserts, a favorite recipe that only they know how to make just right, holiday decor, or a second version of a dish I’m already making. (One year, we had three versions of sweet potatoes, and each one was amazing in its own way!)


3. Prepare a cooking schedule

Knowing what you’re making is half the battle. Next, you’ll need to schedule out your day, planning enough time to make each dish. That is why page three of the Thanksgiving Planner has time slots from 7am to 5pm… plenty of room to write each step of your preparations. Other things to note in this section could be: when guests will arrive with dishes that need warming, when meat and cheese platters should go out, and when the table needs to be set. 

Filled-in Thanksgiving Dinner Planning PDF

4. Check your supplies

After all your preparations, it’s no fun to realize at the last minute that you are one plate short or that you don’t have enough serving spoons (ask me how I know!). A quick assessment ahead of time can alleviate that stressful situation. Check that you have enough dining space for each guest, and pull out extra tables and chairs if needed. Count your plates (dessert plates too!), cups, napkins, and flatware. Lastly, what ingredients will you need for your meal? 

Take note of anything that you’ll need to buy using the shopping lists on page 5 of the Thanksgiving Planning PDF. 


5. Shop

This one is easy- you’ve done all the prep work and have your lists, now schedule out some time in your Quilter’s Planner calendar and get shopping!

"Thanksgiving Shopping Trip" written on a Quilter's Planner calendar


6. Enjoy yourself! 

This day is set aside to enjoy the company of your friends and family. In spite of all your planning, things are bound to get missed. It’s ok! Try to take it in stride, have a laugh at yourself, and move on with your day. Remember that things don’t have to go perfectly for you to fully appreciate the joy of the day.


Need some encouragement to get going on your holiday planning? Join us in our Quilter’s Planner Facebook Group!