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Holiday Planning: Menus, Rooms, Activities

Thanksgiving table setting with family

Only ONE week until Thanksgiving, so let’s put a plan together!

Full Disclosure: This blog post is from several Facebook posts I did last year. I pulled them all together into one article to save us both time! Enjoy!

Food & Beverages:

Step 1: Plan the menu. Whether you are doing all the cooking or just a part of the big meal, the first step is to determine what you are cooking and then make your shopping list. Check your spices, and your non-food items like foil, large bags for brining and roasting (makes clean up a lot easier!). And get some “to go” containers at the dollar store for leftovers. They are great for sending home desserts! Inventory your non-perishables and make a shopping list of these items. Wait to buy your perishable items until just a few days before, but get the non-perishables purchased now. Watch for grocery ads on frozen turkeys. If you have the freezer space, you may want to buy early to have a better selection of sizes. Remember to allow time for a frozen turkey to defrost/thaw—it takes longer than you think!

What size Turkey? Here’s a guide:
# of Guests: 6-8, need 9-15 lb. turkey
10-12, need 10-18 lb. turkey
12-16, need 12-24 lb. turkey
And if you think you need more, consider getting a turkey breast. It may cost a little more (per pound), but you won’t have all the extra bones, and extra clean up. Plus it’s the best for turkey sandwiches!

More ideas for holiday meal planning and preparations… As much as we all love the turkey and dressing and cranberry sauce, there is always that point where you just want some chips, salsa, and Rotel dip!!! Maybe it’s during the Cowboy game, maybe it’s on Friday or Saturday when the college games are on, but we all get to the point that we don’t want another turkey sandwich and not ham either. So this year, think about your ENTIRE WEEKEND–what do you plan to do? What do you want to eat? Make your list of activities and then plan your menus around it. And think about any guests that may be coming into town. Do you need to plan around special diets? (I can help with those special diets!!!)

The more you prepare ahead of time, the less time you will waste in line at the grocery store for something you forgot and if you just want chips and Rotel dip, GO FOR IT! 3 ingredients–microwavable. AWESOME! (just not considered vegan or plant based)

Now we need to start thinking about beverages!! Make sure you have plenty of coffee and tea (hot teas–there are many great ones to choose from, and some will help ease your tummy if you eat too much!! Be sure to get the bigger bags for making iced tea–it is still a favorite in Texas–and my go-to for both hydrating and for the extra antioxidants found in both green and black tea). FYI-Coffee can be frozen, so be sure to pick up extra “bricks” of ground coffee or bags of beans and freeze them for up to 6 months! I have not tried freezing the “K-pods” but would love to hear from anyone that has.

So you are stocked up on tea & coffee…it is time to “stock the bar”. Here is a link to a really good article: How to Stock a Home Bar
I love the pictures! Cheers!

Some quantities to know:

Wine bottle (750 ml)= 5 servings (about 5 oz each), or 3 servings (about 8 oz each)

Liquor bottle (750 ml)= 15 servings (1.5 oz) or if using larger bottles (1.75L) =39 servings (1.5 oz)


Let’s get the guest room/convert the kids’ room/set up the game room for guests coming to spend some time with you this holiday season! Here are a few tips for a guest room (I’ll give other ideas for the kids’ room and game room). Have a “dress rehearsal” in the guest room–sleep there and see how your guests will feel. Is the bed comfortable? Do you have plenty of blankets? Does the fan make a weird clicking noise all night long? Once you know, then you can fix, or add. Some other nice touches to have in the guestroom: bottles of water, small vase of flowers, candle/matches (only if adults are staying, do not put in room with children), phone charger or easy access to a plug, a vessel for watches/jewelry/change, reading materials (books, magazines) and WiFi password. In the closet be sure there is space for their luggage and a place to hang up clothes with extra hangers. In the bath, be sure to have extra toothpaste, toothbrushes, disposable razor, cotton balls & swabs, tweezers, nail clipper/file and some ear plugs (your guest may not be on the same sleep schedule). If you need help decluttering, organizing and setting up your guest room–give me a call, we can still get it done in time for your mother in law’s white glove inspection!!!

Tips for changing a kids room into a guest room: # 1 tip–Fabreeze! Take the sheets off, wash them, add some extra softener to give them a long fresh smell, but before you put them back on the bed, Fabreeze It. Kids stink–and that means the mattress stinks. So while you are washing the sheets and cleaning up the rest of the room, give it some time to “air out”. Then follow the tips above for setting up a guest room.
If you are going to be using air mattresses in the game room, let the kids have a “dress rehearsal” in there. Put air in all of the mattresses, and have them sleep on them for a night. This way you will know if any of them leak air and end up flat in the morning. Check to make sure you have plenty of sheets in the right sizes for the air mattresses and plenty of pillows and blankets as well.
Sweet Dreams!

Table Setting:

Time to set the table! Are you using paper/plastic or going all out with china and crystal? Here are some tips for each:
Paper/Plastic: Heavy Duty is the only way to go on Thanksgiving. And get all sizes–large plates (even platters), small plates, bowls. Heavy Duty for the Knives, Forks, and Spoons, too. You will use more forks, than the others (remember all those pies!) so get extras. Be sure to have a Sharpie Pen for labeling the cups and for labeling the to-go containers.

Crystal & China: be sure to give it all a quick wash and dry–dust collects even in china cabinets. Check out EmilyPost.com for proper table settings.

For clean up: Have a place to scrape the plates and put into soapy water. Be sure that silverware goes directly into sink/soapy water, and not into the trash! And if you are drinking alcohol, wait to wash china and crystal. Better to have dirty dishes than broken dishes! (Personal experience!)


Here are some ideas to keep your guests entertained during their visit. Board Games: Pull out some of the classics like Monopoly, Yahtzee, and dominoes (Double 12). These are ones that lots of people can play; the rules are simple, and you can stop the game and come back if you need to. So clear off the table (leave the tablecloth on to protect) and have fun! Or go buy a new one –I heard there are over 1000 new board games released every year! Puzzles: If you have a spot where you can set up a puzzle and leave it for several days, this is another great way to enjoy time together and afterward you may have a fun new decoration. You can order custom size puzzle frames from PuzzleFrameFactory.com.
And don’t forget to enjoy some time playing outdoors–there are lots of great parks and walking trails that you can enjoy. And many communities have early Thanksgiving Day walks or 5Ks that help support local charities. So if you want to get everyone out of your way/out of the house for a while on Thanksgiving morning, send them to one of the local Turkey Trots!
And last suggestion–Movies. Either go to a movie or select one that is age appropriate for everyone in the group. (This might be the only time you have to sit and relax!)

In case you are wondering what movie to pull up–I have to suggest,…Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It is such a classic! And Miracle on 34th Street! I know it’s not on everyone’s list, but I would love to see/attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I have an ornament that I bought at Macy’s in NYC in October 2000. It shows the World Trade Centers as they were before 9-11-2001. I get emotional every year when I set it out at Christmas. And a couple of movies I had forgotten about but are T-day related: The Big Chill and Grumpy Old Men. Classics!


A suggestion or “note to self” on a couple of topics to avoid at Thanksgiving–POLITICS (save it for another time)–SEX, MONEY, and JOBS. This is not the time to ask or to tell–this is time to BE. Be grateful (for things you have and for the people around you!). Be present (put away your phone–and talk to and listen to everyone around the table. If you have loved ones that you want to connect to, that’s okay, But place a call, and then get back to those you are with). Be patient--we have all become too quick to judge, too quick to reply or respond. This is the time to slow down and listen. Where are you heading to anyway???? A Black Friday Sale? Really? You think the people you are going to meet there are better than the people around the table here???


In case you still have Turkey Day leftovers in your fridge on Monday morning…toss them. They sat out on Thanksgiving Day; you and others have handled them several times since, and the fridge may have either been left open or stuffed so full that it did not maintain a cold enough temp. Best to toss any leftovers and just enjoy the memories at this point. This leads to an idea/suggestion for what to do with an “old family heirloom”. If you have something that was given to you and you don’t use it, but you feel bad about throwing it out, try this idea. Take a picture of it, write a story about it (tell who owned it originally, tell your favorite memory, as many details as you can remember). Then you can keep the photo and the story and donate the item (if usable) or throw it out. You are keeping the best part (and it doesn’t take up space in your attic/basement, or require dusting!).

Happy and Healthy Holiday Wishes!

1 thought on “Holiday Planning: Menus, Rooms, Activities”

  1. Pingback: Holiday Entertaining and Planning - 2020 Edition | OOC, Navarre FL

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