Countdown to Thanksgiving: Last year’s lessons learned

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been busy organizing and preparing for Thanksgiving. This year, we are once again hosting a few of BJ’s family members for the holiday and weekend.

Last year was my first go at hosting Thanksgiving dinner for everyone and I learned a couple of valuable lessons. That is why I am keeping it simple this year. Simple menu, simple decorations, just simple. And aside from finishing up some of our home decor projects, I’ve been preparing the menu, getting ingredients together and making my lists.

Last Year’s Thanksgiving Dinner Lessons Learned:

1. Having someone else prepare the entire meal is not always a good idea.
We ordered our dinner from one of those grocery store specials where you pick everything up a day or two ahead of time and then it’s just heat and serve. It seemed perfect, but in the end, it left something to be desired. The turkey, gravy and apple pie were fantastic, but the other sides were awful. The stuffing was creamy (eww) and the green beans were in a casserole (not good for a girl who’s trying to eat better). Not to mention that the mashed potatoes weren’t that great either.

2. Heating and Serving + Cleaning = Running out of time
We were so busy last year that the cleaning was put off until right before everyone arrived. Thanksgiving morning, BJ and I got up early to start working on the food and finish cleaning the rest of the house (sweeping, mopping, cleaning bathrooms). Needless to say, we were still cleaning when our guests arrived. (And we missed most of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 😦 )

3. Pumpkin pies smell bad when you spill them on the oven and they burn.
Yep. That happened. For some reason, I thought that the pumpkin pie filling would be a little thicker than it was. When I went to slide the pies into the oven, I spilled one all over the oven door. Our house smelled like burnt marshmallow creme. Not to mention all this happened the morning of Thanksgiving. I was so relieved that it wasn’t super cold outside and we were able to open some windows and let the kitchen air out.

So after learning a few lessons last year, I’ve already started preparing for this year.

Since we had such great success with the turkey, we decided to take it one step further and let someone else prepare and heat the turkey for us! We are ordering a smoked turkey breast from one of the local barbecue places (leftover smoked turkey sandwiches anyone? Yum!).

I’m also keeping it simple with the sides and preparing my own. Since we are not having a large group of people, we can reduce the amount of leftovers that do not get eaten (as well as our cost) by making our own.

Here is our menu:


Nothing too over the top. We are keeping it small and healthy. Also, someone else offered to make the pies and I graciously accepted their offer! No burnt pie smell! (insert happy dance)

Last year I didn’t have much time (I was working long hours) to decorate our table the way I wanted. But this year, since I’m getting a head start on my holiday preparations, I’m going to decorate our table for Thanksgiving. Like our menu, I’m going to keep it simple. I have some ideas in mind for how I would like it to look. Here are a few ideas I found on Pinterest:

If you want to see more of my Pinterest inspirations, visit my Pinterest boards at:

In addition to my Thanksgiving menu and table decorations, I’ve been putting together my Thanksgiving shopping list. That probably sounds overly organized, doesn’t it? But, remember my lessons learned? Another lesson I learned is, if you wait too close to Thanksgiving to buy cooking supplies, you will have to go from store to store to find all of your ingredients. Add that to the pumpkin pie fiasco from last year. So what better way to organize your list then with an App on your iPhone? Let’s just say, I love technology and I’m always looking for ways to incorporate its advances into my daily life. I found a really great App that lets you sort your list by category, email your list and the best part is that BJ and I each have the App on our phone and our own group name which allows us to share our grocery lists and update them from both of our phones. Very convenient.

Are you an iPhone User? Here is a link to the App on Apple’s Web site. Shopping List App. You can also download it straight to your phone. You want the full version for e-mailing, sharing and categorizing. If you happy with just adding a list to your phone, the free version would work for you.

Happy Thanksgiving planning everyone!


1 thought on “Countdown to Thanksgiving: Last year’s lessons learned

  1. Pingback: Projectpalooza! | Frame by Frame Style

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