Y’all! It is finally November and I am doing my happy dance in the autumn leaves (but mostly acorns). Granted, I live in Florida and Autumn doesn’t ever really hit and stay until mid-November. It is finally time that I can bust out all things plaid, and fuzzy, and scarfy, and I am in hog heaven. Of course, this joy will only last for about 3 days before I immediately have a meltdown panic because November is our busiest month for functions. Most of which we host, so yea, I’m going to be a wreck.
This year we have a trip (work so it’s not all fun), birthday parties, weddings, an appreciation dinner, two hosted Thanksgivings (one being fairly large), plus something else that I’m leaving out somewhere. Ah, yes, plus two doctors appointments for good measure and extra panic. Although in all fairness, I don’t have to prepare for those, we just have to show up and pony up some cash.
So yea, T-minus 5 days and I may vanish off of the planet for a few weeks. But before I go, I wanted to try to help prevent holiday havoc by posting my handy-dandy guide. I’m working my butt off to get my graphics just right, so please pin this for later and check back. I’m trying to be as thorough as possible.
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Make a List – and Update it often
I live for lists and I have for the majority of my life. I NEED, am borderline compelled to write down everything. From listing groceries, to honey-do’s, to scheduling my day, I have to do it for my own sanity. Of course all of that is completely out the window as soon as I misplace the list. Or in the case of grocery shopping, leave the list sitting on the kitchen counter. Like my mother, it helps me tremendously to write things down, to see a list of whatever topic that commands my current focus.
Which brings me to my point here. If you do not have a decent planner, I suggest strongly that you get one. My personal preference is a planner (like this one) that has both a weekly and monthly option because I NEED to write everything down. I have all of our events catalogued in my planner and then I have a pretty notepad (like this one) that I use to keep my lists with me. Of course, if you wanted an all-in-one they do sell those too. I like to keep them separate because I don’t need the notepad as often and it frees up valuable real estate in my purse.
Currently, I have 6 checklists.
- To-Do List for the House – This is everything I need to/want to get done at home. Like painting the interior doors so they match.
- Master Food List – This is an organized grocery list for the two Thanksgivings and the appreciation dinner. Everything is listed and annotated for which event.
- Guest List – Self Explanatory
- Menus List – Completed dishes for all events.
- Recipes List – PLUS where I have them saved/pinned/written down. This includes what recipes I can make ahead to save time and stress.
- Timeline List – this lets me know when I need to start / complete any task for any given event. How long recipes have to cook, etc. I have everything timed out so when one dish comes out another can go in.
I know it seems like a lot, but this is genuinely what it takes to keep me organized during the most hectic month of the year. As I said before, take the time to write down your list(s) and update them as often as you need to. Trust me, these will be your lifelines!
Hopefully, you already have your menus planned and recipes saved. Take your master grocery list and start watching the sales. Almost every grocery store has sales before the major holidays. Unfortunately, nothing that I need is on sale this week although I’m positive that it will start next week. Remember, the goal here is to avoid the madhouse that occurs every year the day before Thanksgiving (and Christmas). Since I’m planning on hosting two events our list is huge. But there is wiggle room to stock up on extra staples (I’m looking at you canned goods and Christmas hams). If you can afford it, get a little bit extra for later, this saves bundles of time and stress when Christmas comes around.
Triple Check your Menu and Recipes
I apologize if this sounds a touch redundant. Check your recipes now and verify the servings! It does you little good if you’re trying a new recipe and end up with 6 rolls when you’re serving 20. Or end up with a casserole to feed 30 and only 3 people like it. It only takes a little bit of math to double or half recipes and I have to adjust at least one recipe every year. This is also a good time to verify ingredients in case you have anyone with food allergies or special dietary requirements. Every year I try to make some different vegan options for a family member. It’s always fun to try to find something vegan or strongly vegetarian that everyone else will eat too. It’s a nice gesture if you’re hosting to acknowledge dietary requirements especially if they should happen to be life threatening.
Aim for Organized Chaos
Even with my endless planning it is almost guaranteed that I will forget something. If it’s not green beans for the casserole it will be the entire casserole. Do not let yourself get so focused on one single task that you completely overlook others. Set out your items in order of when you need to use them for your recipes
I’m sure that there are far more organized women out there than me, but when I’m in the cooking zone I accept that there is going to be some degree of mess for a while. I am good about washing my dishes as I go along and this does help tremendously, especially when you have an open kitchen and can’t hide your dirty dishes. Throwing them in a dishwasher is also an acceptable short term solution if you’re coming down to the wire.
The night before your event go ahead and pull out all of your serving dishes and serving ware. If it’s been sitting in your cabinet for a year they probably need a wash or polish. Go ahead and set or mostly set your table, anything you can do before hand will cut down on the last minute details. Pretty sure that Hubs is going to be out hunting so it’s going to all fall back on me here.
Make a Plan for Leftovers
After Day 2 of turkey and all the fixins’ for lunch and dinner, turkey and all the fixins’ gets old. There are literally hundreds of recipes across Pinterest to take your leftovers and make them into something new. One of my personal favorites is the Thanksgiving sandwich. Take your turkey and pile on whatever sides you want and slap it between two (or three if you’re adventurous) slices of bread. That aside, I do have a list of new recipes to “make” using this year’s leftovers. Food waste eats at me so I have been trying very proactively to reduce it in our home.
Take Time to Decompress
This has got to be the most important part of all! The holidays are stressful for almost everyone regardless of if you’re hosting or if you’re travelling across the country to visit with family. It is imperative that you take time before/during/after to decompress from the chaos of it all. Seriously, stop for a few minutes and take a breather. Catch up on a book or watch the parade while you’ve got casseroles in the over. After the meal but before you start the daunting task of cleaning up, take a walk or have a cup of coffee with your favorite family member. Remember, you have to take care of yourself too!
For anyone who is more organized than me, what are some of your tips? Or are you just a pod person because I may want to get in on that. Fingers crossed and lots of luck that your holiday hosting goes off without a hitch! Remember, November is a time for not shaving your legs and for being thankful for all of your blessings!