The List

I’m crossing things off the list.  No, not the naughty list, although it is that time of year.  This is a different holiday list.

Since Jeff and I are hosting Thanksgiving for my family at our house, the list making began yesterday.  I can’t complain about the process of making the list – it was actually quite fun.  We each got a cup of coffee, snuggled under the covers with our Thanksgiving recipes and began THE LIST.

Thanksgiving 2015 List

What is The List……it’s our way of staying organized and not dreading holiday company and it has three major components.

First, the list of all the items we will serve for the meal. Some of the items are old favorites and some are new additions.  Some we will make and others have been assigned to other family members.  Here’s what the 2015 menu looks like:

  • Turkey (brined and cooked on the Big Green Egg)
  • Stuffing – Laura
  • Mashed Potatoes – Mimi
  • Corn Pie
  • Brussels Sprouts with Maple Bourbon Glaze
  • Cranberry Apple Sauce
  • Gravy
  • Sautéed Pears with Bacon & Mustard Dressing
  • Pumpkin Pie – Pop-Pop

It’s a carb-heavy menu I know – but you have to give the people what they want!!!!

Now for the second component of the list.  The daily tasks.  We write the tasks we will do each day – including calendar items from our “regular life” so that nothing is forgotten.  As we match Thanksgiving tasks with days, we work backwards, filling in things that can get done early where there is time available.  We also try to schedule some “me time” or “us time” on the list so we’re not completely burnt out by the holiday.

The following is the tasks section from The List:


  • confirm food assignments
  • buy small roller cover
  • make applesauce
  • 2nd coat of paint on bench
  • gym
  • call cuisinart
  • bathe Macy
  • state store
  • make chicken cordon bleu meatloaf
  • fix cords on bedroom television


  • hang hooks
  • wash sheets
  • clean upstairs
  • clean master bathroom
  • gym
  • grocery shop for all but perishables
  • make pizza dough for Barb’s party
  • make meatballs and sauce for Monday night dinner
  • bake sweet potatoes for lunches
  • make soup for tonight’s dinner


  • J&J work
  • Jeff men’s ministry in p.m.
  • buy charcoal
  • take beer to KS for party
  • finish painting bench
  • iron napkins


  • Jeff ear doctor
  • clean living room, kitchen, powder room
  • get pumpkin beer from Craig
  • corn out of freezer
  • chicken drippings and broth out of freezer
  • wax bench
  • pick up turkey
  • Barb’s party


  • finish cleaning
  • walk with Macy
  • brine turkey
  • make corn pie
  • prep Brussels sprouts
  • crisp bacon for pears
  • prep gravy ingredients
  • prep sautéed pear ingredients
  • make dressing for pears
  • get BGE ready (chips, charcoal, drip pan, etc.)
  • set table
  • set buffet table


  • 3:00 am – light BGE
  • 3:30 am – turkey on BGE
  • make gravy
  • make sautéed pears
  • last-minute straightening
  • fill water glasses
  • ENJOY company

Finally, the last component of The List is the groceries.  We make two grocery lists… we will use on Sunday when we purchase everything except the perishables and the other for those things that have to be purchased at the last minute.

To save time at the store – which we all know will be quite crowded no matter when we go this week – the list is sorted into categories.  I won’t share the entire list with you, but the categories are as follows:

  • Produce
  • Meats
  • Bakery
  • Dairy
  • Snacks
  • Baking
  • Dry & Prepared
  • Frozen
  • Liquor Store
  • Miscellaneous

I don’t always sort my grocery lists this way, but I’d say I do about 85% of the time and I miss it when I don’t have it sorted.  The days I don’t take the extra time to sort my lists are the ones I find myself wandering back and forth through the store because I’ve missed something in produce and don’t discover it until I’m in the frozen foods section.

If you’re new to hosting holidays, I’d strongly encourage you to find your version of The List.  Our way won’t work for everyone, but it is a great jumping off point.  Knowing what you need to do each day will keep you from panicking or being overloaded on the actual holiday.

A funny story from one of our early Thanksgivings – one that I’m sure is not unique to us, but from which I hope someone can learn.  I’m not sure it was the first time we were hosting Thanksgiving, but it may have been.  I didn’t realize Jeff had purchased a frozen turkey.  I didn’t discover that fact until Wednesday evening when I began thinking about what time I needed to put the bird into the oven.  Well, after many phone calls with my mom, I’m sure a few tears and some panic, Jeff and I were up most of the night changing the water in the bathtub to thaw the turkey (which was so large it didn’t fit in our kitchen sink).

I wish I could say that was the year that inspired The List; but we are slow learners.  It wasn’t until many more panicky holiday moments that we realized a list would save us stress, long nights and a more than one argument!  So from years of holiday experience, I present to you The List!

Thanksgiving: Part I

Ready of not, the holidays are upon us!

Now I don’t know what your family holidays are like; but when my family gets together, chaos ensues!  You think I’m kidding?  Ha….be careful….you may have to be invited to see for yourself.

This past Saturday, Jeff and I drove to Bethlehem with my mom and dad to have the first of two Thanksgiving dinners.  On Thanksgiving, my immediate family will have dinner at my mom and dad’s house; the dinner in Bethlehem was with extended – but no less important – family.

So anyway, the chaos….it began before we even got in the car.  Now mind you, we were going for a Thanksgiving meal, but my mom – ever the hostess – made sandwiches for Jeff and I to eat in the car because we had arrived straight from a ministry event at church and hadn’t had time for lunch.  In addition to making sandwiches, she was also making sure she had everything packed that was on her list of things to bring to my aunt’s house.  My aunt lives in a lovely neighborhood, in a beautiful home that has a more than well-equipped kitchen and plenty of furniture.  Why am I telling you this?  Because when I tell you some of the things my mom packed for a few hours and a single meal, you will surely wonder if my aunt lives in a tent.  She DOES NOT.

We were each assigned something to contribute to the meal.  My mom was to bring a cheese tray and I was to bring roasted veggies.  My checklist included the veggies, a serving bowl and a serving spoon – pretty straightforward, right?  My mom’s checklist included all the food items, a tray, paper leaves on which to serve the cheese, small cheese knives, several kitchen knives, several spoons, small bowls for noshes including olives and nuts, 3 baskets, ironed cloth napkins, scissors, a cutting board, handiwipes, a thermal carrier to keep the cheeses cool, paper towels, her First Holy Communion dress and two tables – yes tables.  No, my aunt did not ask her to bring tables.

Needless to say, the trunk was full.  Unfortunately, so was the CD player – full of opera, classical music and the best of Andrew Lloyd Webber.  I am not opposed to any of those types of music in moderation – but since the holidays are not a time my family practices moderation, we learned a little bit about “too much of a good thing.”  Add to the music a little too much heat and a little too much swaying in the back seat and you end up as I did – car sick….a great precursor to an enormous holiday meal!!!

I will be the first to admit, having everything needed to assemble the cheese tray – including a place to work without being in the way of the rest of the food prep – was terrific.  But the looks of incredulity on the faces of my aunt and cousin as we brought in bag after bag after bag after table were priceless!

Once we arrived, others were not far behind.  All total we had 15 people spanning four generations, 3 dogs (too many open doors because one dog escaped), 2 wheelchairs, several arguments, lots of alcohol, the blaring of the smoke alarm, enough food to feed the 5,000 , and lots of love!  I loved my time in the kitchen with my cousins, Mic and Richie!  I love the banter and sharing of recipes and cooking tips, the chance to catch up and to reminisce.  The chance to work side by side and laugh and watch the rest of the family interact.

The menu included:

  • Cheese & Nut Board
  • Crespelle (a.k.a. Scripelle)
  • Waldorf Salad
  • Turducken (a first for me)
  • Horseradish Crusted Tenderloin of Beef
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes
  • Mashed Rutabagas
  • 3 kinds of stuffing (including the one in the turducken)
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Roasted Vegetable Platter
  • Baked Corn Casserole
  • Gravy
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Homemade Pasta with Honey Bacon Alfredo
  • Stewed Apples
  • Pumpkin Roll
  • Apple Pie
  • Cranberry Bars
  • Mulled Wine

Everything was delicious, but we should have pared it down a bit!  Marge, my cousin Mic’s wife, made some wonderful desserts that few of us were able to eat until the next day because we were too full from the rest of the meal.

Take a look at some of the pics:

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In spite of the motion sickness, smoke alarms, and pandemonium, I am thankful.  Thankful for good food, for good times and for family – however crazy! So, yes, the holidays are upon us.  The chaos has begun.  Here’s to making it through.

Stay tuned for Thanksgiving: Part II….

What is on your Thanksgiving menu?