Survival Guide to Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for A Large Group

Are you cooking for a large group this Thanksgiving?  Tradition has made my home the gathering spot each year and I love it.  I typically cook for about 20-35 people each Thanksgiving and everyone says, “that must be a lot of work”.  And you know what, they’re right.  Over the years I’ve created a system of planning, shopping and preparation to help ease the workload for the big day.  Not only that, it also frees me up to spend more time with the people I care about.Thanksgiving Menu and display welcome guests as they arrive

Here’s my planning guide to help free up more of my time on Thanksgiving Day.  By doing just one or two things each day for a week leading up to the big day, Thanksgiving dinner is a piece of (pumpkin) pie.

Thanksgiving Planning Menu and Shopping List

I love cooking with herbs and this menu is packed full of them.  This year’s theme is also cranberry…and lot’s of them!  Spilsbury Thanksgiving Menu and Grocery Shopping List; save time by eliminating those last-minute trips to the grocery store for forgotten items!  You may notice that dessert is missing from my list.  I didn’t forget it; rather, whenever a guest asks me, “what can I bring?”, I always answer, “pie”.  Now, it’s gotten to where it’s a contest to see who will bring the most unusual pie.

Spilsbury Thanksgiving Menu

Prepare Ahead

Here are just a few things you can do ahead of time to prepare for Thanksgiving Dinner:

  1. Freeze cranberry ice ring for Sparkling Cranberry Punch
  2. Cook Perfect Cranberry Sauce (this can made a few days and stored for Thanksgiving)
  3. Prepare Mushroom White Wine Sauce and store to pour over steamed fresh green beans
  4. Prepare Herbed Sweet Potato Casserole; this too can be made ahead of time so you will only need to bake it on the big day
  5. Arrange tables and chairs; if your house allows, you will save so much time by planning your seating a day or two in advance
  6. Chop onions, celery and cranberries for stuffing a day or two in advance; store in air-tight container
  7. Decorating your table just a day in advance it will free up a big chunk of time on Thanksgiving
  8. Set out and arrange each serving dish the way you want it to be on Thanksgiving Day; use sticky notes or place cards to label what goes in each dish

Let’s Talk Turkey

Here is a link to a great one-page article that will tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about selecting, thawing and preparing your Thanksgiving Turkey: Sara Moulton’s Turkey Tips

The Organized Cook

Boost your confidence, ease dinner preparation stress and have more time to enjoy your family on Thanksgiving Day through organization and preparation.

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About Toni

Family meals are important. Iʼll show you easy ways to spend less time and money at the grocery store, less time in the kitchen and more time with your family.


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