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Thanksgiving Day Timeline Planner

It’s possible I’m not normal. Ok, it’s highly likely. But I like to have things in front of me, where I can see them. So, Thanksgiving is a big ol’ time planning nightmare if you don’t think about the choreography that goes on in the kitchen.

Thanksgiving - It's Easier Than You Think

So, the next tip is:

8. Make a kitchen timeline, and keep it in front of you.

First, a horror story, to demonstrate why such a thing is useful…

I had my family over for Thanksgiving early in my newlywed life. I was so excited to see them all, in my home for this big deal of a meal. Everyone squeezed in my tiny apartment kitchen, sides and dishes being prepared. The turkey was prepped and tucked into the oven, and we had some free time on our hands. We watched a movie, visited, teased, reminisced and quietly looked forward to the meal. We were running a little late, and I estimated we would be eating our glorious meal around 4pm. Ok, so it was REALLY a dinner (in the most American sense), but I was elated to have undertaken such a task, even if it would be a little late in the day.

Fast forward a couple hours…

Everyone is having a great time, and I cheerfully get up to do the obligatory check on the turkey. I walk to the oven, and it seemed odd that no lights were lit on the oven dashboard. Hmm, weird. I opened the oven to peek inside at the turkey. Instead of a blast of hot dry air smelling of roasting turkey, I got a blast of nothing. What the… ?!

Yep, the oven was NOT ON. In my anxious haste, trying to look like Betty Crocker, I had forgotten to double check that the oven was, in fact, preheated. Oh, and that it was ON when the turkey was in. I felt cold and hot at the same time. Mortified and embarrased. I whispered my confession to the family, and avoided eye contact. I quickly turned the oven on, and returned the bird to the HOT oven. Then, tried to have a good attitude about it, while repeating apologies to the family. Over, and over, and over.

Get the timing right for Thanksgiving day

Oh how I wished that was all …

A while later (hour?) my uncle asked to put a cheesecake in the oven (yes, I know you should make them ahead of time… remember, we are talking about planning here). The temperatures were the same, so we cozied the glass rectangular pan up to the gigantor thick metal turkey roasting pot (seriously, you could feed all the pilgrims with the contents, which I’m not exactly sure it hadn’t), and shut the oven door. We returned to our movie (I think it was a movie marathon at this point), and tried to keep a positive attitude, as it was starting to get dark. *enter long apologetic sigh here*

Then, came the crack of glass from inside the oven…

I jumped up to see what the heck the horrifying sound was. I opened the oven, and to my horror, the glass pan had broken into pieces, and the batter oozed through the oven shelf bars, and coated everything in a thick chocolate layer on its way to the oven floor. Yes, it was getting better every minute. So much for Thanksgiving Super Stardom.

We cleaned it all up (no easy feat in a screaming hot oven), and through some miracle, the turkey was cooked, and the meal was finished. I think we ate at 8pm that night, plates in our laps, shovelling mashed potatoes in our faces from sheer starvation. To this date, it was the most delicious meal ever. Perhaps because I thought we would never get to see it. We were quite thankful that evening for something to eat other than olives and crackers.

So, will planning ahead and making a kitchen timeline make your oven preheat, prevent exploding glass baking dishes and oozzing cheesecake batter? Maybe not, but it WILL help you stay on track, and not have to remember everything. Thus, the cheesecake might be baked ahead of time (day before), and the oven preheated because you’re not a frazzled mess. K?

If only someone would share how they do it…

Oh wait. I will! Here’s my very simple kitchen timeline grid for Thanksgiving. It’s a PDF, and you’re welcome to print it out and use it for your big day. I hope it helps you get dinner on the table before the sun goes down.

Think Thanksgiving is hard? Au contraire dahling. Start at the beginning of my tips on making Thanksgiving easier.



Sorry, but your horror story made me laugh! Reminds me of my own. Had company over (thankfully, not Thanksgiving!), hadn’t cooked meat very often, stuck a boneless turkey breast in the oven for dinner. Thought it would be done in 20 minutes. Failed to realize that it needed to cook for 20 minutes per pound. lol We had something else for dinner that night, and I’ve come a LONG way since then. 🙂

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