Holiday Planning, or, Nerding-Out Publicly

If spreadsheets and lists give you hives, this isn’t the post for you. Might I recommend you read this classic instead? We’ll just catch up tomorrow. Love ‘ya!

I’m going into hyper-orgainized mode. I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year, which I love, but it reveals the over-organized, over-researched nerd girl in me. This is how I get my arms around a challenging situation. I think people are surprised sometimes, to see this visible shift since most of the time, I come across as very laid-back.

I’d be a great project manager except project managers depend on other people to get the work done and that is just too much control out of my hands. *twitch*

Since this project last night prevented me from writing up a proper post, I thought I could at least share the tool I’m using to get all my ducks in a row.

I created a spreadsheet (or four) to capture the menus for the entire holiday weekend (I’ll have house guests so I have to plan for more than just Thanksgiving), the Thanksgiving Day menu, a timeline that will tell you what time you need to start preparing a dish so that it will done by your eat time, and a shopping list.


If this is something you would like too, I’m sharing it here with you. You will need to have Microsoft Excel because I don’t know how the open source version will work with the formulas I put in here. Someone try it out and let me know if it works. 


I left a few of my entries just so you have an example to follow. You can simply type over my entry with your own information. Unless it sounds good. I did put the links to my recipes on the final tab. Almost all of them are slow cooker recipes because I find that to be the easiest, most practical tool when I have house guests. It just gives me more time to play with everyone rather than be stuck in the kitchen and tied to the stove or oven waiting for things to be done. Also, I only have one oven so if I’m cooking a turkey in one, I need to cook the sides some other way.

Fair warning: many of these recipes are new to me so I haven’t tested them out yet. I’ve always had pretty good luck though.

The first tab is the Weekend Menu, this doesn’t do anything fancy other than give you a place to see what you are making at each mealtime. This is where I start so I can see the whole picture.


The second tab is the Thanksgiving meal menu. Again, this doesn’t do anything fancy. It just lets me plan that meal separately.


The third tab is the handy one (for me). The TimeLine figures some stuff out for you. Plug in the dish you have to make (I don’t put anything in I’m buying, like the pies) and:

  1. The time you want to serve the meal
  2. The time it takes to prep and cook the dish (enter it as hours:minutes). UPDATE: be sure to put a 0 for anything less than an hour. For example 0:30 for something that takes 30 minutes to cook.
  3. The Start Time column will automatically display the time you need to start making that dish

The empty lines default to 3:00 PM so just ignore those. I could get fancy and figure out how to hide those when nothing is entered in the other columns but I’m trying to prioritize my energy.


The shopping list doesn’t do anything fancy but it sure is easier to compile the amounts of the same item. For example, if sour cream is called for in three different recipes, it’s easier for me to change the number of tubs I’ll need to get here than scribbling things out on my paper shopping list. Plus, when I start crossing stuff off, I can hide those so I only see what I still need to get and don’t miss it.


The last tab is just the recipes I’m making during the weekend and the links to them. I’ve printed them out (and put them in plastic sleeves and put them in a folder <-nerd) but having them here is a great backup when things get cooking (pun intended!). Plus, you can see that several things need to be started at the same time so my folder can be used by one cook and my tablet linked to the recipe online by another cook.


So did I just freak everyone out with my nerdiness? I know this looks nuts but last time everything went so smoothly for me I never stressed out and the meal was actually done early and all at the same time. It was a little confusing actually. My Mom and I stood in the kitchen looking around trying to figure out what we MUST have forgotten.

If only I could figure out how to get all the dishes to clean themselves. Maybe I can make a schedule for the men-folk to do cleaning duty. Unfortunately, schedules like this are not like fields of dreams. I can make it, but they won’t necessarily come do dishes.

Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Holiday Planning, or, Nerding-Out Publicly

  1. That spreadsheet is the best! I’ve got one that’s kind of similar for weekly meal planning.

Talk to me!