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November 07, 2011

Plan your Thanksgiving like a Caterer | Thanksgiving Planning Check List

As newly weds, last year's Thanksgiving dinner was the first holiday that our two families shared together.  Though I had single-handedly catered other families' large holiday dinners with success, I found that hosting it in our own home, for our own family was completely different.  Not only did I have my own family's traditions to try to replicate, I had an entirely new family's traditions to consider.  Mike's sister always makes her amazing "butterhorns" for Thanksgiving, while my Mom is famous for her soft angel rolls... what to do!? 

In addition to everyone else's expectations, as an event designer and caterer, I also had my own specific visions for everything from how to time and serve the meal, to how the tables should be set.  I learned that I needed to pick and choose what traditions, requests and (let's face it!) demands would work best for our Thanksgiving, and what new traditions we could start as a new family.

What traditions will you keep this year, and what "new" traditions will you try?

As I did for all of my events, I came up with the "Day Of" Cooking Timeline below.  It allows the day (and oven) to run on auto pilot while I'm busy 'entertaining.'  It is important to make an oven schedule for Thanksgiving - especially if you are like me and have a single oven.

Download this form, here.

When I was catering, I offered full service event planning to my Clients.  Meaning, not only was I responsible for the food looking and tasting great, but that the tables, table settings and all of the other aspects of the party were fabulous, as well.  Keeping up with all of these details, in addition to all of the food can be overwhelming.  I created check lists like the one below to help me stay on top of all of the essentials and it freed me up to concentrate on the special details that can make events fun (and fun to plan). 

All of the worksheets are available to download, here!  I hope the help you have an easy and stress-free Thanksgiving!


  1. Anonymous10:22 PM

    I just recently discovered your blog, and I'm so glad I did! I think your ideas are awesome and so useful! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Fabulous worksheets, will definitely use this for the next event. Thank you

  3. kelly in georgia7:08 AM

    Jenny, I LOVE this! And it actually makes it look a little less overwhelming than all my handwritten notes in my notebook tellimg me to do these things - probably because it is sooooo organized. Thank you for sharing your ideas and plans!

  4. Anonymous9:39 AM

    I have always used similar lists for parties and big dinners but I love the way yours are laid out. Thank you so much for sharing, I really enjoy your blog.

  5. Kelly in Georgia5:28 PM

    My single oven has died, and the repairman said there is no reviving I am going to have to buy a new one...this weekend. Does your single oven have convection in it too? This old one did not. If yours does, do you use it in that mode a lot?

  6. I can't seem to download your worksheets. Are the links missing?

  7. Anonymous5:02 PM

    I cannot download the worksheets. Have the links been removed?

  8. Jenny1:30 PM

    Hi All - I'm not sure why the links for downloading aren't working... I'll try to get it fixed asap!


  9. Anonymous6:35 PM

    I cannot download the worksheets. Can you post links? Thanks


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