If you read Part One, then you are now ready for planning your meal, to include prepping days in advance by getting your home (and more) ready.
Decide what time you want to begin dinner. You’ll want your food to all be ready at the same time so decide days before what time what will start cooking and be sure you take into account that your turkey will need 30 minutes to sit. For us, this means that our stuffing #2, green beans, and turkey will all go in at different times, but after the turkey sits, they will all be ready by 4:30 p.m.
We’ll pull our chilled cranberry sauce from the fridge and it will all really fall into place from there.
Now that you’ve got your alarms set and times written on your fridge you can follow the below timeline designed for busy families. Enlist your kiddos in the chores—all hands on deck!
Four Days Before
It’s time to do a military-style layout. We did this all over our kitchen counters by pulling out all our holiday gear and putting the name of each dish beside it. This way we’re not buying more than we need since some items will be using the same equipment, but on different days.
Pull out and clean off any extra tables and chairs you’re going to be using. This happened on a weekday for us while our kiddos were in school. Otherwise, they would have been going through our garage making a mess while we were trying very hard to avoid one.
You’re about to fill your fridge, so now is the day to clean it out, and make leftovers for next day’s lunches and tonight’s dinner. Be sure those pantries and cupboards are nice and organized, too.
Three Days Before
This fell on a Sunday for us, so you may need to break it up or move it over a day. With a minor adjustment to our regular schedule, we were able to get this done in two stores and with time to spare. Need space? Now’s a great day to purge, donate, and sell what you don’t use anymore.
Note to self: Plan a yard sale before Halloween.
Two Days Before
Make your cranberry sauce and if you’re super motivated, pre-mix and label your spices. Just don’t lose them!
Got guests coming over? Odds are you might show them around town on at least one or two of their days with you, so be sure to clean out, wash, and vacuum your vehicle(s), to include car seats. We always find a treasure trove of what-nots when we shake out the little one’s car seat. This one we do almost at the last minute because our large family lacks the ability to remember to leave the car neater than how they found it when exiting the vehicle.
If your kiddos are going to be home the next day, get them some books to read or do an activity. If that doesn’t work, now’s a great time for some holiday movies. Netflix, Red Box, your local library—take your pick, but do get a varied selection. We find that books and movies they haven’t had before work best at keeping them both distracted and mess-free.
The Day Before
Wake up early for this one and blast some good tunes. Surprise your kiddos with those books and movies you got them yesterday and let them hang out while you cook out. Wash and cut your potatoes (skin optional), make your deviled eggs, bake or slow cook your ham (if you haven’t got a dutch oven handy), and prepare your brine.
Then, clean your bathrooms, kitchen, and dining room. I find the little ones love to help with vacuuming and restocking the toilet paper. My four-year-old looks like Gus Gus trying to carry all that cheese at once.
The Day Of
Yay! It’s finally here! All that preparation is finally nearing its culmination. My mom has already expressed how excited she is to be flying in for this holiday and while my dad probably has no idea of all that’s involved, we will all have a super rad time eating good food together and that’s all I want.
Work your magic, breathe through the day, and make your foods using the cook times you’ve hung on your fridge, you smart saavy you!