Thanksgiving Dinner Hosting Plan and Menu

Thanksgiving is only a few days away and I just found out that I am hosting!  This was sprung on me at the last minute to pull together!  First things first- make my to-do list, including menu and timeline, as well as the schedule for setting the table, shopping, etc.

The To-Dos

  1. Make guest list
  2. Make menu
  3. Make shopping list (include cheap plastic containers to send home left-overs with guests)
  4. Plan seating arrangements (any extra tables or chairs needed?)
  5. Plan any games or activities for guests (isn’t there football on that day?)
  6. Plan any additional festive decorations

Okay, so there is the overall strategy.  Now on to the menu!

The Menu

Turkey (1.5 pounds of whole turkey per person- this takes into account the weight of the bones and stuff.  Each person doesn’t actually eat that much.)

Ham ( .5 pounds per person- for a boneless ham; .75 pounds per person for bone-in ham)

Stuffing (go off the per servings on the stuffing bread box)

Cranberry Sauce (use the per serving on the can as a guide as to how much)

Candied Yams (figure 3 servings per large yam)

Mashed potatoes ( 1  potato per guest +1 for the pot)


Green Bean Casserole or green veggies

Rolls (figure 1.5 per guest; as the guys will usually grab 2 and the gals 1 each)



Pumpkin Pie w/ whipped cream (for dessert, figure 8 servings per 9 inch pie)

Apple Pie

The Action Plan

  1. Week before:
    1. Get final guest count
    2. Create specific shopping list based on guest count
    3. Go shopping.
    4. Bring out any special dishes for the dinner and wipe them down if necessary.
    5. Put frozen turkey/ham in fridge to defrost.
  2. Sunday or Monday night before Thanksgiving
    1. Set up table for dinner- adding folding chairs, tables, ect.
    2. Press linens
    3. Dress tables with linens, napkins, centerpieces
    4. Fill Salt and Pepper shakers
    5. Find nice butter dishes
    6. Get the real silverware out and polish if necessary
  3. Tuesday night.
    1. Shop for any last minute items- including additional guests.
  4. Wednesday night.
    1. Set the table.
    2. Make the pies.
    3. Set dough in fridge to rise overnight.
    4. Put jam and butter in serving dishes in the fridge.
    5. Put cranberry sauce in serving dish (if making homemade version, make today)
    6. Prepare any appetizers (cut veggies for snaking, make veggie dip, make chip dip, etc.)
    7. Bake yams, cool completely and set in fridge overnight
  5. Thanksgiving day
    1.  Morning:
      1. Bake rolls (heat up in oven just before serving)
      2. Prepare Turkey for oven and get in oven (time for being done at 3pm).
    2. Noon:
      1. Serve appetizers for snaking
      2. Prepare candied yams for oven (place in fridge)
      3. Prepare green bean casserole for oven (place in fridge)
      4. Ham in oven (timed to be done at 3pm)
    3. 2:15- 2:30 pm
      1. Yams in oven
      2. Stuffing in oven
      3. Green bean casserole in oven
    4. 3 pm
      1. Take turkey/ ham out of oven.
      2. Start boiling potatoes (for mashed potatoes)
      3. Start putting butter, jam, etc. on table
      4. Make gravy
    5. 3:15 pm
      1. Take out yams, stuffing and green bean casserole out of oven, turn temperature up for rolls
      2. Rolls in oven
      3. Start carving turkey, ham for serving
      4. Get all the food on the table
    6. 3:30 pm
      1. Rolls out of oven and serve.
    7. 3:40 pm
      1. Sit down and eat
    8. 4:45
      1. Make the hubby and kids clean the kitchen.

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