Is your Thanksgiving by the book?

The First Thanksgiving Jean Louis Gerome Ferris

Did they have a plan or did they just wing it?

My favorite day is almost here.

I love the holidays, the best part being the fourth Thursday of November — the most anticipation-laden day of the year, with weeks of  music, food, family and celebration stretching before us!

Thanksgiving Day is a turkey-scented, gravy-coated, wine-fueled entry into the holiday season, and I enjoy each and every minute of it.

But I suspect it would not be nearly as festive if I were desparately scrambling to coordinate this meal-of-all-meals on the fly.  That’s where “the binder” comes in.

A few weeks before the big day I pull out a binder that is “mission control” for the meal – the place where I keep all things holiday cooking-related.  The binder gets updated with recipes, a printout of the menu and a schedule that outlines every step I must take to create a complete feast.

I LOVE putting the annual Thanksgiving plan together, chronicling the entire meal and its preparation.  I can’t resist adding new dishes each year, which means I also get to come up with a new schedule to go along with them.

I start by counting backward from the planned dinner hour, arriving at a start time for food prep as well as the exact moment each dish needs to enter and exit the oven, roaster, crock pot, etc.

On Thanksgiving, I operate on autopilot and simply follow my list of instructions, free to simultaneously enjoy the parade or dabble in holiday decorating, among other things.  Most importantly, the dishes all arrive at the table together, steaming hot.

Some might consider it overkill, but it works.  (And I know of at least one friend who spreadsheets her Thanksgiving meal in a similar manner!)

The 2011 Thanksgiving schedule
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