Planning Your Holiday Meal

The holidays are fast approaching! To help you get ready I wanted to share some of my holiday meal planning tools.

I’m a list maker and I find it helps so much, especially with big things like a holiday dinner. I love to have people over, to cook holiday meals and have a house full of guests. (I also love to be alone after all that!) Having lists to rely on can help you enjoy entertaining also.

Here are some of my tips:

Keep a folder or binder of your favorite recipes that you use each season. As you find new recipes add them to the binder. Make notes on recipes such as any adjustments you made or ingredients you changed. After the dinner, make notes on what worked and what didn’t. Did you run out of any foods? Make too much of others?

A couple weeks before the holiday, schedule some time to sit down with your binder and make a master plan. Write down what you will be serving – also making note of what other people are bringing. I’ve got a printable Holiday Meal Planner if you’d like to use it.

As you are finalizing the recipes, immediately start filling out your Holiday Meal Shopping List. I like to organize my list in the format of how I shop the store. Put a star next to things that have to be bought a day or two ahead of time. All the rest of the items you can start shopping for early – this helps with time and money. Picking up things when they are on sale can save you money. Spreading out the extra expense over a couple weeks also helps with the budget. And spreading out the shopping makes for less time spent in the store during the holiday crunch time.

If you are having guests stay with you for the holidays, plan what other meals you may be providing and items you’ll need to let your guests help themselves. You can have people help themselves to coffee and cereal if you’re not planning on making breakfast and have sandwich fixings ready to go for people to do their own lunches. What snacks can you have on hand in the fridge or pantry for people to grab? Add those meal/snack ideas to the Holiday Meal Planner and write the ingredients on your Shopping List.

As the holiday gets closer you can fill out this Holiday Meal Timeline to organize what you can cook ahead of time and how to cook on the big day to get everything on the table at the same time. Write down the dishes that can be made ahead of time. And, in the timeline, add the time of your meal at the bottom and then work up the list writing in 15-30 minutes increments. Look through your recipes and write in when each thing needs to start cooking to be done on time.

What tips do you have for getting ready for a big holiday meal? I’d love to hear them!


Holiday Meal Planner – figure out what to cook.

Holiday Meal Shopping List – fill out your shopping list.

Holiday Meal Timeline – figure out the timeline of cooking your holiday meal.

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