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Planning a Happy Thanksgiving 2019 – 1 week to go!

This post has been edited from the original which was published on November 17, 2011.

It’s always hard to accomplish your Thanksgiving tasks when you don’t know how many people you’re having over or what your menu is!  The menu is done and I think I have the final count and we’re going to be 26 people this year, including my two daughters who will be coming home.  I am so excited to have all my kids in the kitchen this year prepping and cooking with me.  I had a stroke of genius seven years ago, which was to tack my Thanksgiving to-do list on the refrigerator and have everyone sign up for three tasks.  Even my husband helps out!

My last class is today, and then I am going to hit the prep hard!  I have done most of most grocery shopping other than a few items which need to buy purchased when I pick up my turkey.  I plan the days leading up to Thanksgiving pretty carefully so I don’t forget anything and also so that I have a list to cross things off (that makes me feel so accomplished!)   I think about regular meals and activities, too. Here’s what my schedule will look like from Sunday until we eat on Thursday at 4:00 pm (-ish). This shouldn’t make you feel exhausted, but merely show you what you can do ahead for your own Thanksgiving!  The Chalkboard Mag published a really great blogpost three years ago with tons of tips from lots of food experts (including me!)  I highly recommend giving it a quick read.

As if I hadn’t already told you, my Thanksgiving ebook is available for only $10!

 This PDF contains all my Thanksgiving recipes, tips and tricks, in one document!  You will have everything you need to plan and execute your best Thanksgiving ever, says me and everyone I know who has bought it.  Click here to access the Thanksgiving ebook.


Here’s my menu for Thursday and after that is my timeline so you can see how everything can get done.  This just to give you some idea to plan your menu.


Streusel coffee cake (I’ve been making this for 20 years, but it’s from an old, out-of-print book. It’s not healthy.  Not even a little.  Recipe is in my e-book.)

(My Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal would also be a great choice – you can prep it the day before and bake it in the morning.)


Butternut squash soup

Mini Cornbread Muffins













Apple Bourbon Cocktail (hubs is in charge of the bar and all beverages)

Crispy cauliflower (weird, I know, but my husband and kids MUST have it and I don’t have the bandwidth to make it for Thanksgiving dinner)

Zucchini cheese tart

Small cheese board


DINNER ( I think this is too much food, but no one will let me take anything off the menu!)

2 Roasted Turkeys and Gravy (16 pounds each) I will be spatchcocking them this year, which is a technique I taught in my in-person and online cooking classes last year.  It’s just the best, easiest method. I am buying them already brined from GROW in Manhattan Beach, so I will not be doing anything else to them prior to roasting.

Cranberry Sauce (x2)

Applesauce (x1)

Mashed yukon gold potatoes (8/9 pounds)

Sweet potato casserole (x 1 ) + Savory Sweet Potato Casserole (x1) from this month’s cooking class

Stuffing (mushroom and leek) (x2) I’ll do without mushrooms since GB casserole has mushrooms.

Persimmon and Brussels sprout salad from my ebook (x2)

Stovetop Brussels Sprouts (x3) from my cookbook

White Balsamic Braised Root Vegetables from last year’s cooking class (x 3) or Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple-Sherry Glaze from this month’s class

Green Bean Casserole (x2)













1 Perfect Apple Pie

1 Apple and Tart Cherry Pie with Crumb Topping

2 Pumpkin pies

1 Pecan pie

Grain-free Pumpkin Cake 

Homemade vanilla ice cream

Whipped Cream

Apple-Caramel Sauce

Fresh Fruit Platter (my M-I-L brings)


butternut squash soup and mini corn muffins



Grocery shop (I’m already done) for everything that hasn’t been purchased other than turkeys and herbs, lettuces, Brussels sprouts

Arrange tables & chairs

Make cranberry sauce and applesauce

Write placecards



Make salad vinaigrette

Make 2 qts. ice cream

Dry mix for sweet potato casserole with a note about adding butter

Make pastry dough for all pies (watch this how-to video)

Dinner: naan pizzas, salad with Everyday Salad dressing #1


Parent-Teacher Conferences at Mr. Picky’s school

Buy and arrange flowers (last year I made arrangements with white hydrangeas, flowering kale, roses, and snapdragons)

Set tables

Wash and dry greens

Shred cheese for tart, salad

Toast pumpkin seeds for salad

Dry bread cubes for stuffing

Chop onions for soup, stuffings, roasted veg tray

Defrost turkey stock and chicken stocks

Make apple caramel sauce

Dinner:  slow cooker chicken tacos (aka, the easiest dinner on the planet!)


Make butternut squash soup

Steam cauliflower; bread and refrigerate

Make sweet potato casserole
Clean mushrooms and slice for bean casserole

Make stuffings (I actually made and froze 1 already)

Prep Brussels sprouts
Prep zucchini

Blind bake tart crust

Prep vegetables for salad and roasting

Blanche green beans

Make pumpkin pies

Make pecan pie

Make pumpkin cake and frosting (store separately)

Set up coffee and tea service

Check powder room

Uncover turkeys (makes the skin crispier)

Leave butter, eggs and sour cream out for cake

Dinner:  tuna patties, kale salad with quinoa, avocado and whatever else I need to get rid of in my fridge! I have 4 great kale salads on my site that would be work – citrus dressing, lemon dressing, Harvest kale salad, and kale Caesar.

Before bed: make sure garage refrigerator door is closed! (Nine years ago, I left the door open to my extra fridge in the garage all night long. OMG. Nightmare! Needed to buy two new turkeys on Thanksgiving morning!)

Let's eat!


6 am Wake and take a 30-minute walk


7:15/7:30 Instagram LIVE

Make coffee cake

Make coffee

Make cornbread

Make apple pies – All pies must be out by 10:45AM

10:00 Take turkey out of refrigerator

Roast veggies for salad

Prep turkeys

Get dressed and do hair

Bake bread pudding in small oven

Make crispy onions for bean casserole (I always make extra because they get stolen while they’re sitting out)

Prep coffee machine for after dinner

12:00 roast vegetables

Reheat soup

Herb oil for tart

1:15 bake corn pudding in small oven

Remove sweet potato casserole, stuffings, salad dressing and Brussels sprouts from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temp

Prep gravy ingredients

Add melted butter to sweet potato topping

Assemble fruit platter and cheese board (my daughters do this for me)

2:00 Put turkeys in oven (spatchcocking makes the cook time much shorter!)

Peel potatoes; make mashed potatoes; keep in bowl over simmering water

Prep tart

2:15 Bake tart in small oven

2:30 make cauliflower and serve hot

3:00 sweet potato casserole in small oven

start green bean casserole

3:15 Take turkeys out to rest, oven to 350

Reheat stuffings at 450

Make gravy

3:30 remove foil and add topping to sweet potatoes

Add green bean casserole to oven

Consolidate roasted vegetables and reheat on one sheet pan

Sear Brussels sprouts

Light candles, water in glasses, butter, cranberry sauce, and applesauce out, assemble salad

3:45/4:00 Carve turkeys

After dinner: whip cream, coffee and tea, sparkling water

After everyone leaves, write notes for next year!

apple pies


Make turkey stock

Start holiday shopping!

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  1. That is a fantastic schedule, thank you.
    Are you making recipes as is or doubling/tripling according to the number of guests?

    • I adjust according to how many guests I have.

  2. Very good recipes

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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